|Kristina Mendicino||Milton, the Gunpowder Plot, and the Mythography of Terror |
Both In Quintum Novembris, Milton's early heroic poem or "epyllion," and Paradise Lost participate in a "mythography of terror" – a factitious discourse that arose in response to the terrorism of the Gunpowder Plot. The early poem is unambiguously jingoistic in its adoption of the mythography, reconstructing the events of the Plot as a Satanic conspiracy foiled as a sign of England's providential destiny. The later poem is neither unambiguous nor jingoistic, and it adopts elements of that mythography in fragments. But both poems take terrorist violence not only as an example of what evil can do in the world but as a model of what evil is. Terrorism in both poems is a symptom of the other. And so is evil. This essay documents the many writings that arose in response to the Gunpowder Plot, shows how In Quintum Novembris differed in some respects from the tradition while copying it in others, and explains how and why Paradise Lost was still preoccupied with motifs developed in the early poem. It also explains how the idea of terrorism can be applied to literature from a period that predates the coinage of the term and the self-conscious development of the idea. Terrorism is not a new phenomenon and it is not a new challenge for the literary imagination.
|Ian Ross||"Avery Knowing American": The Inca Garcilaso de la Vegaand Swift's A Modest Proposal |
A Modest Proposal (1729) has been variously regarded as a black joke; a masterly exercise in irony; and a satire on contemporary economic theory and practice. Latterly, criticism has examined the relationship between the Proposal and late-renaissance accounts of cannibalism, yet has overlooked a major source for Swift’s pamphlet: the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s Comentarios reales (1609), in Sir Paul Rycaut’s translation, Royal Commentaries (1688). Royal Commentaries offers a detailed account of the systematic breeding of children for food and gastronomic pleasure among non-Inca Amerindians – a form of anthropophagy that is neither ritual nor survival cannibalism. Tracing the textual history of this account from Garcilaso’s own sources to Royal Commentaries, the first part of the essay indicates how Swift might have come to know the account and to argue that he drew on it in A Modest Proposal. The second part examines the implications knowledge of the source holds for a reading of the Proposal, notably in suggesting parallels between the mestizo Garcilaso and the Anglo-Irish Swift. A Modest Proposal then appears not simply as a satire on contemporary economic projectors but as a sustained and savage meditation on the uneasy distinction between barbarism and civilization.
|Susan Manning||Henry Mackenzie's Report on Ossian: Cultural Authority in Transition |
The Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland appointed in 1795 to inquire into the “Nature and Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian” finally published its report in 1805 under the editorship of Henry Mackenzie. Mackenzie’s retrospective synopsis engaged the authenticity debate surrounding the poems specifically with rhetorical and methodological concerns widely canvassed across central fields of Scottish Enlightenment inquiry; it was a late product of the extraordinary discursive homogeneity of the Edinburgh Enlightenment, in which legal, medical, historical, political, and literary expression enjoyed a series of overlapping and mutually permeable discursive frameworks. The cultural authority of the Report resided primarily in Mackenzie’s capacity to re-connect the questions that had animated the original debate with the rhetorical and aesthetic concerns of Adam Smith, David Hume, Hugh Blair, John Home, and Adam Ferguson – some of them instigators and supporters of Macpherson’s project, and themselves Mackenzie’s colleagues and associates. In this respect, the essay argues, the Report was itself part of the cultural afterlife of the conditions that fostered the production of Ossian, and may tell us more about these. But 1805 was the year not only of the Report and of Malcolm Laing’s skeptical two-volume annotated Ossian edition, but also of The Lay of the Last Minstrel, Walter Scott’s debut as an author of modern antique poetry, and – if we believe his subsequent testimony – of the first seven chapters of Waverley; or, ’Tis Fifty Years Since (dedicated to Mackenzie on its publication in 1814, when “Fifty” became “Sixty”). So the further purpose of this essay is twofold: to assess the extent to which the Report is simply a relic of the cultural terrain it looks back on, a belated coda or epilogue to the Ossian affair; or, alternatively, how far it embodies developments in these concerns that contribute to our understanding of Scottish culture in the early years of the nineteenth century, and clarifies continuities between the readily dichotomised periodizations of “Enlightenment” and “Romantic” Scotland. In addressing these questions, the essay makes a claim for the significance of this neglected document to the literary history of cultural authority in transition.
|José María Rodríguez García||Valencia's Verlaine: The Social History of a Colombian Verse |
"Je ne crois pas en Dieu" [I do not believe in God] is a resonant statement both in the literary and the political history of Colombia and in the life and career of Paul Verlaine. The poem where this half-line takes place, "L'Angoisse" (from Poèmes saturniens ), is one of the texts that mark the French lyricist's transition from poète du Parnasse to poète maudit. The present essay sets out to trace the various appropriations and manipulations to which Verlaine's words were subjected from the years 1904 (when Guillermo Valencia translated them as "No creo en Jove") and 1914 (when he opted for "¡No creo en Dios!") to the restoration of the first rendering in 1952, when the much-revised and censored edition of Valencia's complete poems and translations was published.
|Julie Candler Hayes||Dice, Cards, Wheels: A Different History of French Culture by Thomas M. Kavanagh|
|Benjamin Bennett||A New History of German Literature edited by David E. Wellbery|
|Andrew Miller||How Novels Think: The Limits of Individualism from 1719-1900 by Nancy Armstrong and The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel by Catherine Gallagher|
|Brian Reed||Distant Reading: Performance, Readership, and Consumption in Contemporary Poetry by Peter Middleton|
Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 |
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