Volume 82, Issue 3 | September 2021

Author Title
Timothy Anderson There’s Something about Murray: Victorian Literary Societies and Alfred Forman’s Translation of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen  
Alfred Forman’s translations of Richard Wagner’s operas are often derided for their weird diction and minute imitation of German poetic devices. Forman has seemed to represent a zealous and uncritical approach to Wagner that was typical of the early London Wagner Society. But London’s literary societies were important preprofessional gatherings for the appreciation and research of vernacular literature at a time when universities restricted who could study and what could be studied. Forman contributed to other London societies and organized for them dramatic readings of Wagner’s poetry featuring Forman’s wife, Alma Murray. In making Wagner legible and audible for these societies, Forman aligned Wagner with contemporary radical poets and promoted the Ring as a political allegory. Forman’s translations, far from cranky or cultish, show how Victorian society culture affected translation practices, renewed study of poetic alliteration, and inaugurated the political interpretation of Wagner’s works.
Sam Alexander Population Thinking and Narrative Networks: Dickens, Joyce, and The Wire  
Recent approaches to literary character treat fictional population as a defining element of narrative form but continue to read novels at the level of individual characters. This essay uses the tools of narrative network analysis to bridge the gap between microlevel readings and the interpretation of the novel’s character-system as a population. Network analyses of three highly populous works—Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, James Joyce’s Ulysses, and David Simon’s HBO series The Wire—yield measures of social density and character centrality that show how Joyce adapted a Dickensian network plot that emerged amid the population explosion of nineteenth-century Britain to an Irish context marked by demographic decline. This adaptation of Dickens’s plot structure prepared it for a similar use in The Wire. Both Joyce and Simon use a large fictional network to periodically decenter their protagonists and undermine the typological assumptions of much realist fiction. The essay suggests that, rather than read these developments as evidence of a formal rupture between modernism and realism, we view Bleak House, Ulysses, and The Wire as playing a role in an understudied tradition of “population thinking” in the novel.
Michael Lackey The Autonomy of Art and the Legitimization of Biofiction: An Aesthetic Turning Point in Twentieth-Century Literature  
Biofiction is literature that names its protagonist after a historical figure, and since the 1990s it has become one of the most dominant literary forms. This is surprising because many prominent scholars, critics, and writers have criticized and even condemned it. This essay hypothesizes that postmodern theories of truth and concomitant transformations in reader sensibilities partly account for the legitimization and now dominance of biofiction. The essay analyzes a 1968 literary debate among Ralph Ellison, William Styron, and Robert Penn Warren, which on the surface concerned the uses of history in literature. But because it happened just one year after the publication of Styron’s controversial novel about Nat Turner, the debate ended up focusing primarily on the nature and value of biofiction. By analyzing the discussion in relation to contemporary formulations about and theorizations of biofiction, this essay illustrates why the forum represents a turning point in literary history, resulting in the decline of a traditional type of literary symbol and the rise of a more anchored and empirical symbol—that is, the type of symbol found in biofiction.
Author Title
Stephen Hinds Derek Attridge, The Experience of Poetry: From Homer’s Listeners to Shakespeare’s Readers
William A. Oram Catherine Nicholson, Reading and Not Reading “The Faerie Queene”: Spenser and the Making of Literary Criticism
Katharine Ann Jensen Pamela L. Cheek, Heroines and Local Girls: The Transnational Emergence of Women’s Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century
Timothy Attanucci Jason Groves, The Geological Unconscious: German Literature and the Mineral Imaginary
Author Title
Barbara Fuchs Literary History Writ Large; or, The Multilingual MLQ
Jed Esty The Life after Texts, the Life within Them
Katherine Bode The Difference an Editor Makes
Lauren M. E. Goodlad Marshall Brown, Editor Extraordinaire
Ronald Levao and Susan J. Wolfson An Appreciation of Marshall Brown
Jonathan Arac MLQ and Marshall Brown among Their Peers

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