Deterritorialization and reterritorialization are transgressive techniques in literature that characterize subversive literature. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari suggest that questions about marginal literature or other forms of peripheral literatures must all be covered within the designation and definition of minor literature, not only if they are written in the language of the mainstream. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick, or Lonesome no More (1976) is a set of deterritorializations and reterritorializations made possible through creative assemblage, a technique that allows a continuous flow of meaning, that is, meaning is not fixed, as language moves from one territory to another, constructing new assemblages and acquiring new meanings. Meaning changes each time a new assemblage is composed. Through the re-construction of family, love, and human relationships, the novel defies the alienating practices of the American society as presented in Vonnegut’s novel. (MM and WHRM)
The three scholarly monographs published between 2017 and 2020 by Laura White, Laura Tosi and Peter Hunt, and Kiera Vaclavik, are recent contributions to Lewis Carroll scholarship. They belong to what Michael Heyman calls “the sense school” of nonsense literary criticism in so far as they attribute a specific agenda, a systematic structure, a decipherable message, and a homogenised reading to the Alice tales (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass). Each re-explores a well-known children’s classic from fresh new perspectives by relying on interdisciplinary methodologies, mingling the literary historical approach with insights of critical fashion studies, evolutionary biology, and comparative cross-cultural analysis (translation studies), respectively. Like adaptations, these critical theoretical interpretations of the Alice books are in a constant dialogue with one another within a Genettian transtextual network of multimodal narratives.
Bahun, Sanja. Modernism and Melancholia: Writing as Countermourning. Oxford: OUP, 2014. 236 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-997795-6. Hb. $45.00.
Goldstone, Andrew. Fictions of Autonomy: Modernism from Wilde to de Man. Oxford: OUP, 2013. 204 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-986112-5. Hb. $73.00.
Maxwell, Catherine. Scents and Sensibility: Perfume in Victorian Literary Culture. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2017. xviii + 361 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-870175-0. Hb. £30.00.
Craig, George, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn, and Lois More Overbeck, eds. The Letters of Samuel Beckett. Volume IV: 1966-1989. Cambridge: CUP, 2016. cvii + 838 pages. ISBN 978-0-521-867962. £ 30.
This essay explores Northeast Scotland-born Morna Pearson’s first full-length play, The Artist Man and the Mother Woman (2012), a grotesque portrait of a tortured relationship of a middle-aged artist-teacher and his troubled mother. As Pearson’s dark comedy gradually turns into a violent tale of horror, new semantic dimensions unfold from beneath the initial surface of light entertainment, among them the exploration of the nature of artistic creativity. The sources of this creativity lie in belated sexual awakening and the powers this process unleashes. The essay argues that due to the representation of the liminal artist figure both as a creator and as a creation, Pearson’s Künstlerdrama studies the creation of art and the creation of the artist as intertwined processes which are difficult to distinguish. (AB)
Roudané, Matthew. Edward Albee: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2017. 200 pages. ISBN 978-0-521-72695-5. Pbk. £14.99.
Seaside resorts frequently served as locations of murder mysteries in Golden Age detection fiction, since these destinations could provide a diverse clientele, confined to manageably small groups essential to classic detective stories. The fictional seaside town of Wilvercombe serves as the location of Dorothy L. Sayers’s detective novel Have His Carcase (1932), in which Lord Peter Wimsey and detective-story writer Harriet Vane investigate the case of a man found dead on the beach. The location of the body turns out to be a source of confusion: while the detectives expect a traditional locked-room mystery to unfold (albeit in an open-air setting), the death cannot be resolved until the detectives realize that they are working in the wrong genre: instead of a clue-puzzle mystery, they are trapped in a Ruritanian romance, with outlandish tales of intrigue, unlikely members of the Russian aristocracy, and exaggerated and oppressive performances of heterosexual romance. (BH)
Baker, John, Marion Leclair, and Allan Ingram, eds. Writing and Constructing the Self in Great Britain in the Long Eighteenth Century. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2019. xiii + 288 pages. ISBN 978-1-5261-2336-7. Hb. £80.00.
In this interview, conducted during the fourteenth ESSE Conference at Brno in the Czech Republic, Scottish academic and writer Tom Hubbard speaks about his recent work of poetry and fiction, such as The Flechitorium (2017) and Slavonic Dances (2017). He also discusses the stimulating forces behind and the stumbling blocks on the long road towards Scottish independence. He fears and is anxious about the consequences of Brexit on the multifaceted exchange in the arts and literature that Scots have been keen to maintain with other nations throughout the centuries. At the center of his discussion lies his view of Scotland’s place in a nexus of international exchange that would be, ideally, based on mutual and informed interest in each other’s cultural achievement—in literature, music, and the visual and performing arts. (AD)
J. M. Synge’s artistic contribution to the revival of the Irish theatre remains an undeniable fact. However, his consistently developed and dramatized views on the condition of Irish society, on the social and economic problems facing the newly formed state, are issues which seem to have been sidelined by critical emphasis placed on artistic and theatrical issues of his writing. This essay traces the line of Synge’s social thinking and imagery to show its continued effort to critically review the conservative, patriarchal system of values that Irish society had developed in the first decades of the twentieth century. The main part of the article concentrates on presenting the figures of dramatic protagonists who oppose the conservative social order and who simultaneously develop their independent ethical and social consciousness. The article argues that by presenting strong, Nietzschean, individuals who are vehemently rejected by their communities Synge formulates his own critical views of the Victorian and patriarchal normativity of the Irish state. (ML)
To understand the cultural predecessors to the dehumanizing metaphors found in current populist rhetoric, it is beneficial to revisit some of the literary uses of such metaphors in the context of migration, xenophobia, and the notion of sanctuary. By rereading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1830), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) in light of these paradigms, the article explores the links between the monster and the city as sanctuary: while Mary Shelley’s novel shows us the classical scenario of the undesirable being banned from human community, Stoker’s vampire breaks into the sanctuary of both city and nation state, reflecting time-worn fears of invasion and contamination by the racial Other. Hugo demonstrates a third common form of undesirability within the sanctuary, calling into mind Foucault’s concept of inclusion within the city/nation state while also being excluded from it. This article bridges between these texts and prominent scenarios in the treatment of migrants today. (PA)
This article offers an interdisciplinary approach to some of the most iconic pieces of Chicana Art using Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera. Parallels between the textual and visual representations of identity politics and social commitment in Chicana feminist art and Anzaldúa’s work, respectively, will be established through the concepts of “Borderlands” and “New Mestiza” as interpretation keys. The article begins by addressing representations of geographical borders as a unifying theme; then, it establishes a correlation between the concepts “Borderlands” and “New Mestiza,” and the reformulation of female identity represented in Chicana visual art. Finally, it will explore the purpose of the social commitment of the author/artists and how it is represented in their literary/artistic productions. The visual art of the selected Chicana visual artists, including Ester Hernández, Yolanda M. López, Alma López, Santa Barraza, and Judith Baca, accurately portray the experience of Chicana women theorized in Borderlands/La Frontera. (PAL)
The paper examines two drama adaptations of Tolstoy’s novellas, Nancy Harris’s The Kreutzer Sonata (2009) and Peter Reid’s Desire (2014), both recent additions to contemporary Irish theatre’s abundant number of adaptations as well as male monologue plays. The exploration of the adaptation strategies assesses how Harris and Reid engage with these nineteenth-century works so that the old narratives are endowed with new relevance. While Harris’s play, which often rises to a poetic quality, innovates with the use of on-stage live music, it remains set in Russia in the past, which makes it a powerful period piece with anachronistic treatment of the central theme of sexual jealousy. In contrast, Reid’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s novella with a similar theme actualizes and relocates the original, transferring it to Ireland in the present time, and through the changes introduced in the plot and character, the playwright creates a credible psychological landscape for twenty-first-century audiences. (ZsCs)
Economides, Louise. The Ecology of Wonder in Romantic and Postmodern Literature. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. vii + 214 pages. ISBN 978-1-137-47750-7. E-book. $84.99.
Kay Redfield Jamison has spent her career as a clinical psychologist studying and writing about those afflicted with manic depression, especially artists and writers. She has been especially attentive to poets and now has completed Setting the River on Fire, her extensive study of Robert Lowell, in whose life and poetry madness went hand in hand with creativity, invention and artistic genius. The result is a fascinating text at the crossroads of clinical writing, biography and literary criticism, illuminating both Lowell’s poetry and his life-long struggle with mental disorder. The most important question of the book is this: does manic depression help or hinder writing poetry? His illness was no doubt one of the most important subject matters in Lowell’s life work. The parallel demonstrated between Lowell and other “mad” poets extends the subject matter of this book so that it becomes not only Lowell’s illness, but also the relationship between mental disorder and writing poetry in general. Mania, like all mental disorders, is a synecdoche of the human psyche in general; its representation in poetry raises the problem of the mask as well as that of confession. A confessional poem, in Lowell’s view, is a text which contains (“confesses”) the subject’s psyche in its complexity and ambiguity. Mania is both a part of this psyche and a target of confession. As his poetry testifies, paradoxically, Lowell managed to be confessional while wearing the mask of the other. His illness partly explains why his life work is particularly open to readings that view it as an organic whole.
While deWitt’s writing enjoys commercial and critical success, it has inspired very little academic scrutiny. This is perhaps due to deWitt’s avoidance of Canadian settings and themes in favor of motifs from American popular culture or European folktales. Just as The Sisters Brothers (2011) relied on deWitt’s ironic use of the Western formula, so Undermajordomo Minor (2015) constitutes a playful attempt at rejuvenating several tired genres. In the story of young Lucy Minor’s acquisition of a dubious post at the eerie Castle Von Aux there are unmistakable elements of the Gothic romance, the fable, and the Bildungsroman, all spiced up with a quirky cinematic aesthetic. Equally strong are the echoes of Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, Kafka’s The Castle, and Bernhard’s Gargoyles, themselves richly interconnected. Through these diverse allusions and a curious blurring of geographical and historical boundaries, deWitt creates transgeneric fiction, which may be understood as transnational in the sense assumed by Kit Dobson or Peter Morgan.