Volume 70, Issue 2 | June 2009

Author Title
Noel Jackson Rhyme and Reason: Erasmus Darwin's Romanticism  
The poetics of Erasmus Darwin's Botanic Garden, its status as an aesthetic as opposed to a purely scientific artifact, and the formal logic of the genre its author popularized have received scant historical attention. Yet in its time Darwin's contribution to the genre of "philosophical poetry" was thought dangerously radical not solely because of its content but because of the compound logic of its form. Effecting a more perfect union of scientific reason and the poetic imagination, Darwin's philosophical poetry conjoins as poetry the aesthetic and political aims of his work in a purposeful way that, while unmistakable to the conservative critics who attacked him, has largely escaped contemporary critical notice. Today Darwin's poetry may be viewed as a touchstone for debates over the legitimacy of perfectibilist schemes of political improvement during the period of the French Revolution.
John T. Hamilton Musicon Location: Rhyme, Resonance, and Romanticism in Eichendorff's Marmorbild   
Literary history's persistent attempts to locate the work of Joseph von Eichendorff within German Romanticism aim at a stabilization that contradicts the very dynamism associated with this movement. A study of Eichendorff's exemplary novella Das Marmorbild (The Marble Statue) reveals the shortcomings of any interpretive desire to fix the text, not simply because the story delights in Romantic instability but because it posits phenomena of music and their effects as forces that frustrate every effort to localize. What Eichendorff presents to the reader is itself a "marble statue"—a Bild or image that both seduces and invites, inspires and imprisons, by means of epistemological and moral ambivalences that resonate far beyond the text's localizable source.
Heather Fielding “The Project of His Consciousness": James and Narrative Technology  
Henry James often criticizes mass culture for having instrumentalized the novel by conditioning readers to reduce the text to its ending. Yet he also suggests that popular visual technologies—cinema and its predecessor, the magic lantern—are uniquely able to compensate for mass culture's end-driven tendencies by taking the viewing process out of the viewer's hands. While readers can read novels as they please, visual technologies function independently of the spectator. From them, James thought, twentieth-century novelists might derive formal strategies to solve the problem of instrumentalization. James's theories of technology and modernism recast familiar debates about the relationship among the early-twentieth-century novel, mass culture, and commodification. He neither posits the novel as a work of art that is exempt from economic pressures nor embraces the commodity as a model for a new aesthetic. Instead, he critically revises mass culture, using technology to nullify the hazards of commodification.
Joyce Wexler The German Detour from Ulysses to Magic Realism  
In 1929 Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz was not only compared to Ulysses but also hailed as a prime example of the postwar movement called magic realism. This junction led directly to landmark magic realist texts by Günter Grass, Gabriel García Márquez, and Salman Rushdie, who adopted Joyce's strategies because they faced the same problem he did: how to represent the unimaginable violence of their times. Joyce taught them how to bear witness to contemporary events while impugning their own testimony. In Ulysses and its successors, an ironic combination of symbolism and realism locates multiple secular meanings in specific historical events. Secular excess replaces divine plenitude. The absence of a consistent authorial voice prevents readers from determining a hierarchy of significance. Exaggerated correlations between individual lives and public events aggrandize the former and domesticate the latter. Terrible events are described comically, and everyday matters are treated as portents. The echoes of Ulysses in magic realism amplify its irony and dispel the primitivist tendency to interpret the fantasy in later texts as evidence of indigenous belief in supernatural forces.
Author Title
Gerald L. Bruns Russell A. Berman's Fiction Sets You Free: Literature, Liberty, and Western Culture
Fiona Somerset Catherine Sanok's Her Life Historical: Exemplarity and Female Saints' Lives in Late Medieval England
Juliet Shields Laura Doyle's Freedom's Empire: Race and the Rise of the Novel in Atlantic Modernity
Robert L. Caserio Mark Wollaeger's Modernism, Media, and Propaganda: British Narrative from 1900 to 1945
Paul Giles Elisa Tamarkin's Anglophilia: Deference, Devotion, and Antebellum America
Kathleen Woodward Priscilla Wald's Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative

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