Black Male Fiction and the Legacy of Caliban
With The Tempest’s Caliban, Shakespeare created an archetype in the modern era depicting black men as slaves and savages who threaten civilization. As contemporary black male fiction writers have tried to free their subjects and themselves from this legacy to tell a story of liberation, they often unconsciously retell the story, making their heroes into modern-day Calibans.
Coleman analyzes the modern and postmodern novels of John Edgar Wideman, Clarence Major, Charles Johnson, William Melvin Kelley, Trey Ellis, David Bradley, and Wesley Brown. He traces the Caliban legacy to early literary influences, primarily Ralph Ellison, and then deftly demonstrates its contemporary ...Read More
The Spirit of Carnival: Magical Realism and the Grotesque
The world of literature responds to the “spirit of carnival” in ways that are both social and cultural, mythological and archetypal. Literature provides a mirror in which carnival is reflected and refracted through the multifarious perspectives of verbal art. In his original, wide-ranging book, David K. Danow catches the various reflections in that mirror, from the bright, life-affirming magical side of carnival, as revealed in the literature of Latin American writers, to its dark, grotesque, death-embracing aspect as illustrated in numerous novels depicting the dire experience of the Second World War.
The remarkable meshing of these two diametrically opposed yet ...Read More
Satire: A Critical Reintroduction
Here is the ideal introduction to satire for the student and, for the experienced scholar, an occasion to reconsider the uses, problems, and pleasures of satire in light of contemporary theory. Satire is a staple of the literary classroom. Dustin Griffin moves away from the prevailing moral-didactic approach established thirty some years ago to a more open view and reintegrates the Menippean tradition with the tradition of formal verse satire. Exploring texts from Aristophanes to the moderns, with special emphasis on the eighteenth century, Griffin uses a dozen figures—Horace, Juvenal, Persius, Lucian, More, Rabelais, Donne, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Blake, and ...Read More
Prospects Of Power: Tragedy, Satire, the Essay, and the Theory of Genre
Genre—the articulation of "kind"—is one of the oldest and most continuous subjects of theoretical and critical commentary. Yet from Romanticism to postmodernism, the concept of genre has been punched with so many holes that today it hardly seems graspable, let alone viable. By combining theory with dialectical literary histories of three significantly different genres—tragedy, satire, and the essay—John Snyder reconstructs genre as the figural deployment of symbolic power.
One purpose of this approach is to reconcile the recent dismantling of representational and classificatory genres with the incipient notion in post-Althusser Marxism that genre is the crucial mediation between history and ...Read More
Mark of the Beast: Death and Degradation in the Literature of the Great War
The First World War is a watershed in the intellectual and spiritual history of the modern world. On the one hand, it brought an end to a sense of optimism and decency bred by the prosperity of nineteenth-century Europe. On the other, it brought forth a sense of futility and alienation that has since pervaded European thought. That cataclysmic experience is richly reflected in the work of writers and artists from both sides of the conflict, and this study provides a detailed analysis of two basic themes—death and degradation—that mark the literature about the war.
From their accounts most men ...Read More
Perspectives on Contemporary Literature: Literature and the Historical Process
In all parts of the world and in every age, many of the greatest works of literature have been shaped or inspired by the swirl of historical events. The wars, holocausts, and mushroom clouds of our own era haunt the pages of many twentieth-century writers; events of the past, even the remote past, also inspire many authors, though their work is contemporary in every way. And if we agree with the poet Czeslaw Milosz that “historicity may reveal itself in a detail of architecture, in the shaping of a landscape,” we come to recognize that our understanding of a given ...Read More
Perspectives on Contemporary Literature: Literature and the Other Arts
Today’s music, painting, and film share with literature in the development of a new aesthetic, even as these other arts influence (and are influenced by) literary themes and structures. And at the same time the music and art of the past continue to re-echo in twentieth-century letters.
The thirteen essays gathered here open a fine and varied view of the ways in which contemporary literature interacts with the other arts. Surrealism in French painting and literature, collage theory and the cutups of William Burroughs, texts of Butor as shaped by works of Duchamp—this volume offers a rich harvest of perceptive ...Read More
Reading Deconstruction, Deconstructive Reading
Deconstruction—a mode of close reading associated with the contemporary philosopher Jacques Derrida and other members of the "Yale School"—is the current critical rage, and is likely to remain so for some time. Reading Deconstruction / Deconstructive Reading offers a unique, informed, and badly needed introduction to this important movement, written by one of its most sensitive and lucid practitioners. More than an introduction, this book makes a significant addition to the current debate in critical theory.
G. Douglas Atkins first analyzes and explains deconstruction theory and practice. Focusing on such major critics and theorists as Derrida, J. Hillis Miller, and ...Read More
Kings and Captains: Variations on a Heroic Theme
Charles Moorman reexamines several major works of the western heroic tradition: The Iliad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, The Song of Roland, The Nibelungenlied, the Norse sagas, and the Arthurian cycle. Disregarding the usual limited definitions which have controlled the study of heroic literature, he draws together these disparate works by proposing a theme common to them all: the opposition of two major figures whom he names king and captain.
The figure of the king arises from the community with its need for responsible government, while the captain, derived from myth, is a highly individualistic, irresponsible heroic figure. The tension which Moorman ...Read More
Hateful Contraries: Studies in Literature and Criticism
These ten essays, written over a period from 1950 to 1962, are bound together by their common concern with questions of the meaning of criticism and the larger meaning of literature itself. These difficult questions W.K. Wimsatt treats with characteristic wit and penetration, ranging easily from a broad consideration of principles to incisive comment on individual writers and works.
The first part of the book is devoted to a discussion of literary theory. Wimsatt reviews the development of critical dialectic from the German romanticism of Schelling and the Schlegels to the mythopeic bravura of Northrop Frye. Himself a classical ironist, ...Read More
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