Volume 82, Issue 4 | December 2021

Author Title
Kiernan M. Murphy What Was Tragedy during the Haitian Revolution?  
Contemporary actors and, later, historians and critics have long compared the Haitian Revolution to a tragic play. But the model of tragedy they invoke has changed over time. Today the best-known example comes from The Black Jacobins (1963), in which C. L. R. James narrates the events of the Revolution through the lens of a Hegelian definition of tragedy. David Scott has championed James’s “tragic mode of history” for political reasons, arguing that it is better suited to address the challenges of the postcolonial present. But a tragic mode of history can be of use for the postcolonial present only if it is firmly grounded in the world-changing events that it is supposed to illuminate. It should build on what tragedy was in the milieu of Toussaint Louverture and the slave rebels. To lay the groundwork for this critical shift, this essay traces how tragic performances and history intersected during the Revolution and shows how radicalized versions of Voltaire’s Roman-themed tragedies and Afro-Caribbean mythology and rituals played a prominent part in the fight for equality.
Colton Valentine Domesticating Decadence: Joris-Karl Huysmans, Pierre Louÿs, and Their Invisible English Translators  
Decadence eludes definition, but critics tend to concur on the movement’s transgressive and uncommercial status in the British literary field. This essay questions those associations by exploring a current of archetypal decadent French novels translated by and marketed to a mainstream Anglophone audience: Joris-Karl Huysmans’s En Route (1895, trans. 1896) and La cathédrale (1898, trans. 1898) and Pierre Louÿs’s Aphrodite: Mœurs antiques (1896, trans. 1900 and 1906) and La femme et le pantin (1898, trans. 1908). By reading letters, memoirs, and prefaces alongside periodical reviews and a publisher’s archive, the essay sheds light on the novels’ invisible translators and reveals the fiscal and legal viability of “domesticated decadence.” Doing so models how translation studies and book-historical methods can revise deep-set tenets of literary history. These “poisonous” epitomes of the fin de siècle in fact circulated freely across the Channel, reaching more than the happy few.
Shaj Matthew The Multiple Simultaneous Temporalities of Global Modernity: Pamuk, Tanp?nar, Proust  
This essay proposes the theory of multiple simultaneous temporalities as a constitutive feature of global modernism. It spotlights varieties of heterogeneous time—outside but alongside the homogeneous empty time of clocks and calendars—in modernist literature. These overlapping temporalities replace the linear succession of past, present, and future with a principle of nonteleology. The multiple simultaneous temporalities of these works analogize the multiple simultaneous temporalities of global modernity. Thus the temporalization of difference that separates developed nations from developing ones is refuted by the pluralization of temporality. The simultaneity of these temporalities denies, a priori, the ideology of progress. The essay makes this point through a series of interlaced epiphanies about time, across time, staging an East-West comparison that reflects the creole nature of global modernity. It does so via readings of interconnected novels by Orhan Pamuk, Ahmet Hamdi Tanp?nar, and Marcel Proust.
Liam Lanigan Toward a Realism of the World-System: John Lanchester’s Capital and the Global City  
This essay explores how John Lanchester’s Capital adapts classical realism to represent the contemporary global city; it pays particular attention to how London’s position in the world-system disrupts Lukácsian totality. Because the novel attends to the complexity and extensiveness of the world-system, it depicts the city not as a representative totality but as embedded in the global circuits of capital, shaped by the influences of inward migration and global finance. In this the novel has affinities with many fictions of the global periphery, for instance portraying the city as at once socially fragmented and structurally connected. Furthermore, the novel departs from classical realism in its closure; though the 2008 financial crisis is omitted from the novel, it overshadows the entire plot, and its absence emphasizes the lack of finality in the story of this phase of capitalism itself. In demonstrating the temporal and spatial unknowability of contemporary capital, Lanchester’s novel both affirms the capacity of realism to trace deep systemic connections and reveals the fragility of its construction of a social totality, positing a realism attendant to its own perspectival limits within the world-system.
Author Title
Nathaniel Likert Coming To: Consciousness and Natality in Early Modern England
Michael B. Prince Unfelt: The Language of Affect in the British Enlightenment
William Galperin The Calamity Form: On Poetry and Social Life
Robyn Warhol Serial Forms: The Unfinished Project of Modernity, 1815–1848
John Whittier Treat Weak Planet: Literature and Assisted Survival

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