|Nicholas Paige||The Storyteller and the Book: Scenes of Narrative Production in the Early French Novel |
How might a seemingly immemorial literary topos be modified under the pressure of specific historical circumstances? This article examines the fate of the storyteller or devisant motif in some later seventeenth-century French novels, and argues that the figure's varied permutations register the efforts of writers and readers to reckon with the impact that an increasingly abstract or anonymous relation with print was having on literary practices long underwritten by a coterie-based model for narrative exchange.
|Elisa Tamarkin||Revolution and Nostalgia: American Elegies for British Empire |
The essay begins by discussing new historiographical practices in the nineteenth-century U.S. that challenged progressive accounts of the Revolutionary War. Departing from romantic narratives that saw the Revolution as the expression of national destiny, the archival projects remembered the period for the particular character of the colonial moment that was lost when Independence was won. The essay then examines how histories-and the fictions and iconographies they helped shape-return to scenes of the war that witness the deferential exchange of civilities and affections between enemies. The recovery of such anecdotes reflects both a popular fascination with British imperial culture, and an investment in the style of sociability it reproduced overseas. In recalling the experience of the British occupation, and all the celebrations, fetes and processions of His Majesty's representatives abroad, these accounts preserve the luster of the empire even as its own anachronism disables it. The investment in the culture of the Revolution suggests the appeal of an emerging aesthetic that indulges in elegiac longings for the grand forms of the British empire, and even for "dependence" within it. The archive allowed Americans to inhabit again a colonial space, one they perceived as much more devoted to imperial pleasures, pageantry, and play than to the truths of domination and war. Revolutionary histories of the nineteenth century have a pedagogical commitment to this fantasy of Britain's example, especially as it becomes a way of working through aspects of America's own imperialist ambitions.
|Matthew Potolsky||Decadence, Nationalism, and the Logic of Canon Formation |
The image of the decadent hero retreating into the private world of his or her books and collections is a familiar emblem of late nineteenth-century political quietism, but this essay argues that it is precisely through their accounts of such retreats that decadent writers engage with the cultural politics of their age. The myriad collection described in decadent texts mirror in their structure and sociological function the literary and artistic canons compiled for nationalist purposes by scholars, editors, and schoolmasters throughout the nineteenth century. Yet whereas national canons posit an organic unity between a people and its literary classics, decadent collections are idiosyncratic assemblages that draw from every corner of the globe, and often bring together artists, works, and objects that have little more in common than their opposition to some norm. In their manifest constructedness, decadent collections foreground the logic of canon formation. They demonstrate how canons are made and what cultural and political functions they serve, thereby challenge the assumption that the nation and its vernacular classics are joined in any natural or inevitable way. The essay pursues this argument through readings of the collections and canons elaborated in Walter Pater's The Renaissance (1873), Joris-Karl Huysmans' A Rebours (1884), and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891).
|Jian Xu||Body, Earth, and Migration: The Poetics of Suffering in Zhang Wei's September Fable |
This article studies the central motif of human suffering in Zhang Wei's novel. It examines how, different from many other works representing human suffering, A September Fable treats the hardships of an uprooted, hand-to-mouth existence as an inevitable experience of Chinese peasant life regulated by the eternal cycles of change and renewal. The novel poeticizes poverty and suffering and challenges literary representation that habitually assigns suffering a negative value. How should we evaluate such a work? Since China's traumatic entry into modernity, the modern intellectuals have seen suffering in terms of social oppression and cultural deprivation, which justifies radical social change. What sociohistorical condition has brought back a concept of suffering that is arguably traditional at a time the drive to modernize has become all the stronger? The article explores the cultural need of contemporary Chinese literature to invent an "ideologeme" in order to combat the universalistic discourse of globalization propagated now as modernization and progress. Naturalized suffering is one such ideologeme that reverses the meaning of a politico-rhetorical category historically in the service of a nationalist drive for modernity.
|William Waters||Soliciting Darkness: Pindar, Obscurity, and the Classical Tradition by John T. Hamilton|
|Annabel Patterson||Wayward Contracts: The Crisis of Political Obligation in England, 1640-1674 by Victoria Kahn|
|Deirdre Shauna Lynch||Lyric Generations: Poetry and the Novel in the Long Eighteenth Century by G. Gabrielle Starr|
|Patrick Caddeau||Before the Nation: Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community in Early Modern Japan by Susan L. Burns|
|Rita Felski||Women, Compulsion, Modernity: The Moment of American Naturalism by Jennifer Fleissner|
|James Tweedie||Derek Jarman and Lyric Film: The Mirror and the Sea by Steven Dillon|
Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 |
University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430