Volume 71, Issue 1 | March 2010

Author Title
Wang Ning World Literature and the Dynamic Function of Translation  
Although the term world literature encompasses texts composed in multiple languages, translation makes possible a body of literature from many linguistic and cultural backgrounds that circulates in international critical discourse and is broadly recognized as world literature. Thus the category of world literature presupposes authors and translators driven to contribute to the canon of world literature. Walter Benjamin observes that translation endows a literary work with "continued life" or "afterlife," without which many works of global significance remain "dead" or marginalized. Inspired by Benjamin's view of translation and by David Damrosch's emphasis on world literature as a distinctive type of literary production, this essay examines the issues that influence the potential of literary works to win acclaim in translation as world literature. Chinese literature provides a useful case study, since Chinese translators have been more focused historically on translating works into Chinese than on exporting Chinese literature into other languages and thus increasing its chances at an "afterlife."
Amy S. Wyngaard Defining Obscenity, Inventing Pornography: The Limits of Censorship in Rétif de la Bretonne  
Most critical accounts of the history of pornography note that the term is traceable to Nicolas-Edme Rétif de la Bretonne's Pornographe, which they dismiss in the same breath because of its nonpornographic status. Although Rétif wrote only one pornographic novel, L'Anti-Justine (1798), his contributions to the genre merit further analysis. This essay argues that Rétif played an important role in circumscribing the moral and legal limits of sexual representation in the eighteenth century and beyond. He did so not by producing blatantly obscene texts but by working to push the boundaries of decency and propriety while inviting censors and the public to hone their understanding of these concepts. In producing increasingly daring versions of Le paysan perverti (1775), Rétif repeatedly forced authorities to redraw the line between the passable and the prohibited. In this way he helped shape the category of the illicit at its borders, contributing more to the development of pornography than simply its name.
Tamara S. Wagner "Very Saleable Articles, Indeed": Margaret Oliphant's Repackaging of Sensational Finance  
Examining the impact of mid-Victorian sensationalism on the shaping of the nineteenth-century novel, this essay calls renewed attention to the intricacies of genre formation. Taking as its point of departure the notorious "sensational sixties," it tracks the increasingly self-reflexive adaptations of the sensation genre's most popular paradigms in the following decades. Oliphant's At His Gates (1872) capitalized on the quickly established alignment between finance and sensation not so much to condemn commercial pressures as to turn them to good effect as the shapers of new literary motifs. Featuring a moderately successful painter who produces his one truly outstanding piece, ironically, when driven to despair by a financial swindle, At His Gates was not merely Oliphant's most fully realized fictional engagement with sensational narratives of Victorian economic crises. Reflecting its author's own dilemma in the struggles of a speculating painter, the novel addressed and exploited key intertextual exchanges at the Victorian book market.
Andrew Parker The Poetry of the Future; or, Periodizing the Nineteenth Century  
The question of poetry's future was asked with surprising frequency across various Western literary languages during the nineteenth century. In Walt Whitman's little-known essay "The Poetry of the Future" (1881), in Arthur Rimbaud's celebrated "Voyant" letter to Paul Demeny (1871), and in a famous passage near the beginning of Karl Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1851–52), a future poetry was greeted as an original poetry. In each of these instances, however, breaking with the past entailed imitating it, which suggests that poetry's future looks much like its past, the way forward indistinguishable from the way back.
Author Title
Sam Fallon Meredith Anne Skura, Tudor Autobiography: Listening for Inwardness
David Simpson Andrew Elfenbein, Romanticism and the Rise of English
Murakishi Esei Anrew H. Miller, The Burdens of Perfection: On Ethics and Reading in Nineteenth-Century British Literature
Vincent P. Pecora J. Jeffrey Franklin, The Lotus and the Lion: Buddhism and the British Empire
Linda Hutcheon Herbert Grabes, Making Strange: Beauty, Sublimity, and the (Post)modern "Third Aesthetic"

Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 | University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430