|Marc Bizer||From Lyric to Epic and Back: Joachim Du Bellay's Epic Regrets |
It had been the dream of the sixteenth-century Pléiade poets to glorify their country and literature by composing a "long French poem," a term that designated a genre resembling epic but that also included romance. In the 1550s, not only Pierre de Ronsard, who had received an official commission to write the Franciade, but also Joachim Du Bellay were exploring epic as a change from love poetry. Having formally renounced Petrarchist lyric, Du Bellay drew on his experience in the French diplomatic service in Rome to compose his most famous sonnet collection, the Regrets. Although a servant of the monarchy, Du Bellay contests monarchical authority and Ronsardian poetics through a particular reading of Homer: his self-portrayal contrasts with prudent Odysseus, whom Du Bellay's teachers had proposed as a model to the French king and whom the poet claimed ironically to surpass in a pointless epic adventure. At the same time, Du Bellay taunts Ronsard for being a poet in favor with the French court and thus one whose own aventure was an official success. Du Bellay's agon with Ronsard carves out, in effect, areas of empire-undermining and empire-glorifying epic epic.
|Jaime Hanneken||Going Mundial: What It Really Means to Desire Paris |
This essay analyzes Mundial Magazine, a little-known Parisian periodical edited by Rubén Darío, in the context of current debates over the large-scale narrative of literary modernity that Pascale Casanova puts forth in The World Republic of Letters. These debates tend to be framed as a choice between symbolic economy (Casanova's "universal" literary capital) and political economy (the focus of many Latin Americanist scholars on hegemonic constructions of modernity). Yet the unique circumstances of Mundial—published in Paris by Spanish America's most famous poet, composed almost exclusively of contributions from Hispanic authors and artists, and exported to its readers—suggest a Spanish American literary landscape built on an allegorical appropriation of Paris. By physically and discursively situating Paris as the nodal point for literature and art made in and destined for the Hispanic world, Mundial harnessed its prestige as a cultural capital and as a modern publishing center to promote a global, pan-Hispanic culture. Understanding the aesthetic, technological, and commercial transactions undertaken by periodicals like Mundial can lead to a more nuanced account of the uses of the universal in modern Spanish American letters.
|Theodore Martin||The Privilege of Contemporary Life: Periodization in the Bret Easton Ellis Decades |
Is there a literary genre uniquely suited to grasping the history of the present? This essay proposes the "decade novel" and explores how the genre is elaborated in the work of Bret Easton Ellis. As a form of compressed history, the decade is the preeminently "stereotypical" or degraded version of periodization; perhaps for this reason, it is also the perfect narrative mode for the present's historical self-consciousness. Ellis's novels American Psycho and Glamorama expose the contradictory link between the ephemeral details of consumer life and the essence of a single, self-contained decade. They thus demonstrate the incompatibility between the immediate experience of the present and the retrospective gaze of periodization. They also suggest a way to resolve it. The formal continuity between American Psycho and Glamorama, which shows them to be variations of the same allegory of late capitalism, provides an alternative to the false closure of the decade. Read together, the two novels describe not a presentist eternity but a sense of the present as an ideologically continuous moment in the longue durée of capitalist modernity.
|Liran Razinsky||Not the Witness We Wished For: Testimony in Jonathan Littell's Kindly Ones |
This essay examines Jonathan Littell's novel The Kindly Ones (Les bienveillantes) as a project of bearing witness. It turns a critical eye on the role played by the poetics of excess and transgression, on the novel's historical aspects (dates, events, and other details), and on the interplay among them; it inquires as well into the literary construction of testimonial authority.
|Melanie Micir||Middletown, Middle-Class, Middlebrow|
|Herbert Lindenberger||John T. Hamilton, Music, Madness, and the Unworking of Language|
|Nicholas Halmi||Adam Potkay, The Story of Joy: From the Bible to Late Romanticism|
|Charles Rzepka||Nicholas Halmi, The Genealogy of the Romantic Symbol|
|Klaus Hofmann||Erik Gray, Milton and the Victorians|
|John T. Hamilton||Benjamin Bennett, The Dark Side of Literacy: Literature and Learning Not to Read|
Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 |
University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430