Horlacher, Stefan, ed. Configuring Masculinity in Theory and Literary Practice. DQR Studies in Literature 58. Boston: Brill Rodopi, 2015. viii + 318 pages. ISBN 978-90-04-29899-6. Hb. $106.
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.
Rácz, István. Philip Larkin’s Poetics: Theory and Practice of an English Post-War Poet. Leiden and Boston: Brill Rodopi. 2016. 235 pages. ISBN 978-90-04-31106-0. Hb. €76.00.
Limpár, Ildikó, ed. Displacing the Anxieties of Our World: Spaces of Imagination. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars, 2017. 229 pages. ISBN 9781443817028. Hb. £52.99
What do we read in horror stories? To answer such an elusive question, research both historic and theoretical in nature is necessary. A comparison of proto-horror fiction by highly canonized nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century American authors (Poe, Bierce, James, Harvey, and Gilman) as well as Lovecraftian poetics reveals the presen...ce of a theoretical thread that sutures these seemingly disparate literatures together. Classic American short stories show a strikingly similar memetic conformation to weird fiction when examined from the framework offered by Sigmund Freud’s seminal essay “Das Unheimliche” [The Uncanny] (1919). Identifying the memetic transmutations that the uncanny goes through in various close readings offers a taxonomy of six tropes—allegorizations of singularities, doubles, and triads—that are already implicit in the Freudian text. Such categorization applied to the weird genre unravels poetics that, as the article argues, stem from an innately subversive impulse in American literature. (PH)
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 unfo...ld 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)
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)
Golden Age detective fiction by women offers insights into the competing gender ideologies of the 1930s and early 1940s. The female protagonist these novels delineate is called “the female gentleman” by Melissa Schaub, who describes her as the detective’s equal based on her intellectual abilities and independence. Although the female gent...leman seems a revolutionary figure as she is forward-looking in gender politics, her strong belief in class hierarchy, her Victorian morals and relationship with the gentleman detective relocate her in the heritage of the English pastoral. This essay focuses on the female gentleman as a bridge figure whose marriage to the detective not only restores him to his masculinity but also portrays the woman embedded in the pastoral idyll of the English landscape. Her decision to accept traditional femininity reinforces the female gentleman’s role in the recreation of the stability and security of pre-war England. (RZs)
Halperin, Laura. Intersections of Harm: Narratives of Latina Deviance and Defiance. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2015. xii + 238 pages. ISBN 978-0-8135-7036-5. Pbk. $29.95.
Bentley, Nick, Nick Hubble, and Leigh Wilson, eds. The 2000s: A Decade of Contemporary British Fiction. The Decades Series 4. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015. 297 pages. ISBN 9781441112156. Pbk. £85.
Davies, Helen. Neo-Victorian Freakery: The Cultural Afterlife of the Victorian Freak Show. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 239 pages. ISBN 978-1-137-40255-4. Hb. $90.
Butler, Judith, Zeynep Gambetti, and Leticia Sabsay, eds. Vulnerability in Resistance. Durham: Duke UP, 2016. x + 336. ISBN 978-0-8223-6290-6. Pbk. $26.95.
Steinhoff, Heike. Transforming Bodies: Makeovers and Monstrosities in American Culture. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. ix + 267 pages. ISBN 978-1-137-49378-1. Hb. €85.59.
Drawing on Michel de Certeau’s insights on spatial practices the essay analyzes two works by Canadian writer Anthony De Sa, Barnacle Love (2008) and its follow-up, Kicking the Sky (2013), and maps the spatial biography of their protagonist and narrator, Antonio Rebelo, from childhood to early adulthood. De Sa’s works are s...et in Toronto, presented as a city in transition. Both narratives interrelate the protagonist’s story with the spatial setting of Toronto’s Little Portugal and with the cultural issue of emigration. They also delve into the complex urban social reality formed by subalternity, hard work, sexual exploitation, spectral memory, and family affects. De Sa’s interpretation of Toronto as the background of Antonio’s spatial biography constructs a complex interaction with the cityscape and its different emotionally conflicting spaces. To greater or lesser degrees in Barnacle Love and Kicking the Sky De Sa’s storytelling questions the concept of Toronto the Good and the actual city of Toronto becomes a rhetorical space—the backdrop for a coming-of-age narration that empowers Antonio Rebelo with invention and agency and launches him toward adult life. (SCB)
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.
This essay develops an alternative notion of Black flânerie, one that foregrounds the flâneur’s auditory experiences and practices in the city, explaining how sound patterns work as indexes of historical traumas such as slavery, colonialism, and indigenous dispossession. More specifically, it investigates how sound and space are connected a...nd what these connections may reveal about acoustical and historical conditions of urban sites. Analyses advance readings of spaces as shadowed by sonic traces, echoes, afterlives, and memories, which point to the sedimentation of sound in geographic as well as psychic structures and ruptures and hence show how different soundscapes suggest different forms of relationality: alienation, rupture, intersection, connection, and transformation. Finally, it demonstrates how sound imagery—including music, dialects, noise, voices, and silence—functions to signal fantastic spaces and places, fantastic or speculative linkages in particular, and produces a version of the non-White fantastic. (DKM)
Ever since Disco Pigs hit the headlines at the Edinburgh Festival in 1996, Enda Walsh has achieved major success at home, on the Irish stage, and worldwide. This essay acknowledges that the body of his work to date, comprising nineteen plays plus collaborations in musicals and operas, still represents work in progress and that it is no...t feasible yet to provide anything like a definitive assessment or interpretation. It is argued, nevertheless, that the work may be situated within the Irish dramatic tradition and contemporary modes of performance. While Walsh seeks always to entertain through meta-theatre, his plays owe much not only to Beckett but also to youth theatre, especially to the style of Passion Machine, to story-telling techniques, and to clowning, farce, and rock music. Certain serious themes recur, such as alienation, private versus public space, and death, which place Walsh in a category beyond “just play.” As scriptwriter for David Bowie’s last show, Lazarus, staged in New York in December 2015, he may be moving towards a synthesizing of ideas, style, and theme, thus moving collaboration to a new level. (CM)
The problem of sexual violence, including rape, domestic assault, sexual harassment, and molestation has recently become a topical issue both in public discourse and popular culture. The unspoken individual traumas have found their way to the world of TV series, such as HBO’s mini-series Big Little Lies. The essay explores the unique ways in...which the television series treats sexuality and personal traumas. It argues that while by no means can it be regarded as a soap opera, Big Little Lies occasionally uses and rewrites the genre-specific codes of this traditionally low-prestige television genre intended for women to alter the representation of individual traumas in popular culture. The use of flashbacks and involuntary repetition as narrative elements along with the retrospective framework of a criminal investigation make the serial form much suited to examine individual traumas. The television series attempts the almost impossible: to speak of the trauma’s unspeakability, and simultaneously it seeks to maintain its high viewership. (ZsOR)