Drinking to excess has been a striking problem for industrial and post-industrial
societies – who is responsible when a ‘free’ individual opts for a slow suicide?
The causes of such drinking have often been blamed on heredity, moral weakness,
‘disease’ (addiction), hedonism, and Romantic illusion. Yet there is another
reason which may be more fundamental and which has been overlooked or dismissed,
and it is that the drinker may act with sincere philosophical intent. The
Existential Drinker looks at the convergence of a new kind of excessive,
habitual drinking, beginning in the nineteenth century, and a new way of
thinking about the self which in the twentieth century comes to be labelled
‘Existential’. A substantial introduction covers questions of self, will,
consciousness, authenticity, and ethics in relation to drinking, while
introducing aspects of Existential thought pertinent to the discussion. The
Existential-drinker canon is anchored in Jack London’s ‘alcoholic memoir’ John
Barleycorn (1913), where London claims he can get at the truth of existence only
through the insights afforded by excessive and repeated alcohol use. The book
then covers drinker-texts such as Jean Rhys’s interwar novels, Malcolm Lowry’s
Under the Volcano, Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend and John O’Brien’s Leaving
Las Vegas, along with less well-known works such as Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s
Notes, Venedikt Yerofeev’s Moscow–Petushki, and A. L. Kennedy’s Paradise. The
book will appeal to anybody with an interest in drinking and literature, as well
as those with more specialised concerns in drinking studies, Existentialism,
twentieth-century literature, and medical humanities.
Suicide and the Gothic is the first protracted study of how the act of
self-destruction recurs and functions within one of the most enduring and
popular forms of fiction. Comprising eleven original essays and an authoritative
introduction, this collection explores how the act of suicide has been
portrayed, interrogated and pathologised from the eighteenth century to the
present. The featured fictions include both the enduringly canonical and the
less studied, and the geographical compass of the work embraces not merely
British, European and American authors but also the highly pertinent issue of
self-destruction in modern Japanese culture. Featuring detailed interventions
into the understanding of texts as temporally distant as Thomas
Percy’s Reliques and Patricia Highsmith’s crime fictions, and movements as
diverse as Wertherism, Romanticism and fin-de-siècle decadence, Suicide and the
Gothic provides a comprehensive and compelling overview of this recurrent crisis
– a crisis that has personal, familial, religious, legal and medical
implications – in fiction and culture. Suicide and the Gothic will prove a
central – and provocative – resource for those engaged in the study of the genre
from the eighteenth century onwards, but will also support scholars working in
complementary literary fields from Romanticism to crime fiction and theoretical
disciplines from the medical humanities to Queer Studies, as well as the broader
fields of American and European studies. Its contents are as relevant to the
undergraduate reader as they are to the advanced postgraduate and the faculty
member: suicide is a crucial subject in culture as well as criticism.
to encourage a broader understanding of her work and to make possible a reassessment of her position in early twentieth-centuryliterature and culture.
The turn to fiction and the short story
Hall is not generally known for her short fiction, and she published only one collection of short stories in her lifetime, a volume entitled Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself
(1934). Yet, numerous short stories are among Hall’s unpublished works, and her
very career as a writer of fiction began with her turn to short fiction in the second
half of 1914. At this time, Hall was 34
This chapter explores the absurdist tendencies in twentieth-century literature, noting that prose fiction had its own proto-absurdist moments, which can be seen in the works of Peter Conrad and Henry James. It then examines avant-garde theory and some related concepts, including futurism and surrealism, concluding with a discussion on the move towards ‘absurdism’.
This book presents a wide range of previously unpublished works by Radclyffe Hall. These new materials significantly broaden and complicate critical views of Hall’s writings. They demonstrate the stylistic and thematic range of her work and cover diverse topics, including outsiderism, gender, sexuality, race, class, religion, the supernatural, and World War I. Together, these texts shed a new light on unrecognised or misunderstood aspects of Hall’s intellectual world. The volume also contains a substantial 20,000-word introduction, which situates Hall’s unpublished writings in the broader context of her life and work. Overall, the book invites a critical reassessment of Hall’s place in early twentieth-century literature and culture and offers rich possibilities for teaching and future research. It is of interest to scholars and undergraduate and postgraduate students in the fields of English literature, modernism, women’s writing, and gender and sexuality studies, and to general readers.
This chapter focuses on the early intersections of Byatt's fiction with both modern debates on the novel and the continuing relationship of mid-twentieth-century literature with the Romantic legacy. It provides readings of The Shadow of the Sun and The Game, which indicate Byatt's life long project of ‘critical storytelling’. It is a practice of storytelling that does not separate the literary from the critical imagination, but instead aims at a deliberate and thoughtful combination of the two ways of seeing and describing the world.
This chapter considers the decline of representations of the Existential
drinker figure, partly a consequence of Existentialism’s fading from view as
its ideas became assimilated, diluted, or discredited, and its major
proponents faded away. It also notes an increasing antagonism towards the
writer-drinker, once a staple of twentieth-century literature. The change in
the philosophical, literary, and cultural landscape is seen in a number of
texts where the protagonist is a committed drinker: Ivan Gold’s Sams in a
Dry Season (1990), John O’Brien’s Better (2009, published posthumously), and
Patrick de Witt’s Ablutions (2009). The acceptance of a neo-liberal world
devoid not just of meaning but the search for meaning often characterises
the nihilistic and hedonistic impulses of these novels.
At a time when monolingualist claims for the importance of ‘speaking English’ to the national order continue louder than ever, even as language diversity is increasingly part of contemporary British life, literature becomes a space to consider the terms of linguistic belonging. Bad English examines writers including Tom Leonard, James Kelman, Suhayl Saadi, Raman Mundair, Daljit Nagra, Xiaolu Guo, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, and Caroline Bergvall, who engage multilingually, experimentally, playfully, and ambivalently with English’s power. Considering their invented vernaculars and mixed idioms, their dramatised scenes of languaging – languages learned or lost, acts of translation, scenes of speaking, the exposure and racialised visibility of accent – it argues for a growing field of contemporary literature in Britain pre-eminently concerned with language’s power dynamics, its aesthetic potentialities, and its prosthetic strangeness. Drawing on insights from applied linguistics and translation studies as well as literary scholarship, Bad English explores contemporary arguments about language in Britain – in debates about citizenship or education, in the media or on Twitter, in Home Office policy and asylum legislation – as well as the ways they are taken up in literature. It uncovers both an antagonistic and a productive interplay between language politics and literary form, tracing writers’ articulation of linguistic alienation and ambivalence, as well as the productivity and making-new of radical language practices. Doing so, it refutes the view that language difference and language politics are somehow irrelevant to contemporary Britain and instead argues for their constitutive centrality to the work of novelists and poets whose inside/outside relationship to English in its institutionalised forms is the generative force of their writing.
critical offering, a contextualising study of the
Romantics entitled Unruly Times: Wordsworth and Coleridge in Their
Time (1970). Chapter 2 of the present study explores the early
intersections of Byatt’s fiction with both contemporary debates on
the novel and the continuing, if difficult, relationship of
mid-twentieth-centuryliterature with the Romantic legacy. What emerges
from our readings of
with Postmodernism’, Twentieth-CenturyLiterature , 75:3–4 (Fall/Winter 2011), pp. 391–422 (392); Andrew Hoberek, ‘Introduction: After Postmodernism’, Twentieth-CenturyLiterature , 53:3 (Fall, 2007), pp. 233–247 (233).
87 Robert McLaughlin, ‘Post-Postmodern Discontent: Contemporary Fiction and the Social World’, symplokē, 12:1/2 (2004), pp. 53–68 (55, 58); Ian Williams, ‘(New) Sincerity in David Foster Wallace’s “Octet”’, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction , 56:3 (2015), pp. 299–314 (301).
88 Amy Hungerford, ‘On the Period Formerly Known as