Abstracts v.67 | 2006

Volume 67, Issue 1
Author Title
David Quint The Tragedy of Nobility on the Seventeenth-Century Stage

A dominant strain of Renaissance and Neoclassical tragedy depicts the collision of noble subject and king, and explores that subject's various relationships of self-assertion and deference, opposition and dependence. Topical allusions suggest the connection of these tragic dramas to a real experience of aristocratic crisis. Racine's Phèdre, Corneille's Suréna, Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, Daniel's Philotas, Chapman's The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron, and Tirso de Molina's El Burlador reshape the individual extinction whose prospect may be basic to tragedy into the loss, in changing historical and political circumstances, of a particular high noble identity. In the demise of noble greatness, the plays depict history both conditioning and foreclosing upon the very possibility of the genre of tragedy.

David Harris Sacks Richard Hakluyt's Navigations in Time: History, Epic, and Empire

Richard Hakluyt's Principal Navigations of the England Nation (1st ed. 1589; 2nd ed. 3 vols., 1598-1600), a massive collection of document and texts by different authors and from different periods, is notoriously a work of ambiguous genre. Writing in 1852, J. A. Froude called it the "prose epic of the modern English nation." More recent commentators have seen it as conforming to the new model of travel literature exemplified by Giambattista Ramusio in his monumental Delle navigationi e viaggi (Venice, 1550-59). But John Foxe, famously the author of the Acts and Monuments of England's martyrs stands prominently among the English models Hakluyt himself identified. Foxe identified his work as an ecclesiastical history, an historiographical genre treating the providential history of the Church and of the civilization of which it was a part through the careful recovery of primary sources. This present essay argues that Hakluyt's debt to this form led him to compose a book of the kind Francis Bacon would designate as "history of cosmography," a "History manifoldly mixt," but one that also showed "the accomplishment" of divine prophecies and the "excellent correspondence…between God's revealed will, and his secret will."

Marina Brownlee Intricate Alliances: Some Spanish Formulations of Language and Empire

The specificity of history, and its appropriation for political expression is strikingly apparent in post 1492-Spain. The definitive Muslim surrender of Granada to the Catholic monarchs after nearly eight centuries of occupation provides a thought-provoking wealth of responses to the possibilities of genre and history, of language and empire-from the hegemonic to the politically dissident. At times explicit, other times subtle articulations are formulated, addressing the inevitable issues of cultural hybridity to which empire gives rise. This essay considers two intriguing mid-sixteenth century-examples of racial and ethnic pressures, diverse responses to empire, in the "Kaida de Granada" and the Abencerraje. The first of these two responses, an aljamiado lament by the Mancebo de Arévalo, dramatizes the cultural dissolution that resulted from the expulsion of Spain´s Moors. The second text, an anonymous composition presumed to be written by a Jew who also underwent forced conversion, presents the interaction of Moors and Christians not as trauma, but in a subtly disturbing utopian manner, one which could satisfy Christian reader as well as the dispossessed Moor and Jew. By their radically appraisals, these two texts offer testimony to the strikingly divergent possibilities for cultural hybridity and its representation.

Timothy Hampton The Diplomatic Moment: Representing Negotiation in Early Modern Europe

This article analyzes the representation of diplomatic negotiation in a variety of Sixteenth-Century texts by such authors as Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Montaigne, and Rabelais. It argues that the scene of diplomatic encounter offers a site for thinking about the relationship between political representation and aesthetic representation in Renaissance culture. And it suggests that the constraints of genre provide strategies for both controlling the instability of the diplomatic moment and giving it meaning.

Heather James The Poet's Toys: Marlowe, Erotic Elegy, and the Liberty of Speech
Roger Chartier Genre between Literature and History
top Volume 67, Issue 2
Author Title
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.

top Volume 67, Issue 3
Author Title
Andrea Frisch French Tragedy and the Civil Wars

The seventeenth-century French neoclassical commitments to audience pleasure and to an aesthetic distance between audience and tragic stage arose in the context of a political discourse that emphasized the gains to be had from forgetting one of the most unpleasant periods in French history. France's wars of religion colored the experience of her poets and playwrights and, alongside more strictly literary influences such as Aristotle, Euripides, Seneca and Tasso, informed their views of tragedy. This piece argues that royal legislation commanding the French to obliterate memories of the wars played a critical role in the emergence of the neoclassical aesthetics of distance in the wake of the very different models of reception proposed by sixteenth-century humanism. In sharp contrast to the drama of the latter part of the sixteenth century, the tragedies of Corneille and his contemporaries shun the rhetoric of exemplarity that explicitly targets specific historical individuals and situations. At the same time that it serves the end of audience pleasure, this abstraction of history and historical difference also constitutes the foundation of the myth of French universalism.

Louisa Shea "May the Cynic Dolmancé Serve as your Guide": Sade and the Cynic Tradition

This paper sketches an answer to the question, what does Cynicism signify in Sade's work? More specifically, what does Sade mean when he invites his readers, in the Philosophie dans le Boudoir, to take example on "the cynic Dolmancé"? The last two decades have seen a revival of scholarly interest in the philosophical import of Cynicism and my paper positions Sade within the literary and philosophical legacy of ancient Cynicism, in particular the reception of Cynicism in writings of the philosophes. I argue that Sade stands at a crucial juncture in the growing split between Cynicism in its ancient and modern meanings. He revives key aspects of ancient Cynicism that the philosophes had deliberately written out of the concept (most importantly, Cynic shamelessness and a commitment to animal nature) and thereby reinvigorates Cynicism for modernity even as he lays the foundations for our modern definition of cynicism as disillusioned self-interest.

Patricia Juliana Smith "The Queen of the Wasteland": The Endgames of Modernism in Angela Carter's The Magic Toyshop

Angela Carter's second novel, The Magic Toyshop (1967), has heretofore been read primarily as a feminist fairy tale reworking the Bluebeard theme. This essay demonstrates that there is more to this work than meets the eye, and that barely concealed beneath the narrative surface is a highly allusory critique and reconfiguration of Modernist texts that had been extolled by Carter's Leavisite professors in the early 1960s. By setting this novel in its historical and intellectual context and examining the function of allusions to and tropes from T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, and W. B. Yeats's "Leda and the Swan," it is possible to discern not only Carter's subversion of the "Great Tradition" but also her debt to it, even as she refutes the androcentric and elitist perspectives of these canonical works.

Michael Szalay The White Oriental

The Cold War politics in Richard Condon's 1959 novel The Manchurian Candidate both obscure and allegorize the Beat hipster's trend-setting relation to the changing market protocols of literary modernism. This critically neglected but vastly influential political novel is, in this regard, a conscious rewriting of both Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Kerouac's Dharma Bums. But Beat culture is not only a hidden subject within The Manchurian Candidate--it's also constitutive of how Condon understands his own reconciliation of trenchant critique and shameless pandering, of literary distinction and mass-market savvy. Condon's renderings of Asian influence work less to demonize an external threat than to transform the terms of political conflict into a salable drama of avant-garde insiders competing over cultural styles.

top Volume 67, Issue 4
Author Title
César Domínguez The South European Orient: A Comparative Reflection on Space in Literary History

Whereas the role of space in literary narrative has been frequently studied, its functions in literary historiography have attracted scant attention. Focusing on 19th century French literary histories from a comparatist perspective, this essay examines how literary historiography attributes a literature's identity, like a hero in a novel, largely to the production and consumption of space. The essay is intended as a contribution to the developing field of literary geography. Many historical studies in the nineteenth century portrayed Spain as the "Orient" of Europe and the south of Spain as the "Orient" of Spain. Similar patterns can be found in accounts of the literatures of the Italian and Balkan Peninsulas. Literary histories have traditionally been based on the supposed authenticity of national literary borders; their contradictions and shortcomings are revealed by the transnational thinking and geocultural perspective of modern comparative literature. The essay concludes with a summary of my main remarks on the global pattern encompassing these local literary areas.

Gillen D'Arcy Wood The Female Penseroso: Anna Seward, Sociable Poetry, and the Handelian Consensus

This article examines the dispute between Anna Seward and William Cowper over the 1784 Handel Commemoration in Westminster Abbey as a symptom of their allegiance to two distinct cultures of poetry. In broader terms, representing Seward's poetics as "Handelian," that is, modeled on the sociable rituals of music culture, and adhering specifically to the nationalist consensus surrounding Handel's oratorios, clarifies her contempt for Cowper, whose proto-romantic narrative of "retreat" and satiric "misanthropy" constructs a newly fashionably anti-social persona. What Seward calls Cowper's "egotism" likewise belongs to the cultural politics of the new periodicals, which deliberately set themselves against the Augustan traditions of sociable (and, implicitly, effeminized) art, and displayed contempt for Seward's literary-musical salons at Batheaston and Lichfield.

Tilottama Rajan "The Prose of the World": Romanticism, the Nineteenth Century, and the Reorganization of Knowledge
Peter Zusi Toward a Genealogy of Modernism: Herder, Nietzsche, History

J. G. Herder and Friedrich Nietzsche are commonly associated with the foundation of historicism and modernism, respectively, as major discourses within European culture. Thus they appear as fundamentally opposed thinkers: for modernism explicitly rejected the "turn to the past" that historicism understood as vital. Nonetheless, there are surprisingly extensive parallels between Herder and Nietzsche. The present article explores how both use vitalist rhetoric to critique decadence and "formalist" thought. It argues that such parallels reveal more than just an under-acknowledged affinity between two otherwise very different thinkers. For historicism emerges not as the "opposite" of modernism, but rather as its prevenient stage: Herder's historicist critique of formalism lays conceptual foundations for much of Nietzsche's modernist critique of historicism.

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