„Egy kultúra, két kultúra, sok kultúra” – olvashatjuk e kötet egyik írásának élén. Bár a tanulmány szerzője a kanadai konföderációról értekezik, a címben jelzett dinamikus osztódás akár a teljes angol nyelvű kultúrára is érthető. Máris helyesbítenünk kell tehát: nem beszélhetünk ma már egyetlen angol nyelvű kultúráról, csakis az ilyen kultúrák sokféleségéről. Válogatásunk – amelynek írói között a magyarországi anglisztika jól ismert és elismert képviselői éppúgy helyet kaptak, mint a tehetséges pályakezdők – ebből a sokszínűségből kínál ízelítőt a legújabb irodalom- és kultúratudományi kutatások fényében.
This article discusses some contexts and internal features of John Dryden’s translation of Virgil’s Aeneid in order to show why and how this work can be viewed within the tradition of English epic poetry. It takes issue with the view that Dryden would have suffered from an anxiety of Milton’s influence and that his translation would be a sign of the incapacity of producing original epic poetry after Paradise Lost. It is suggested that “translation” should be seen in a wider sense of a creative and critical relation to the past that is nonetheless upheld in the context of the epic’s function of legitimating national foundations. Through discussions of Dryden’s views on epic poetry, his relation to Milton, his interpretation of Virgil, and his cultural position and aims in the 1690s, the article seeks to show why we have good reasons to think of Dryden’s English Aeneid as a vital example of the epic genre, and that it can profitably be read within its tradition.
The present article was written as a chapter of a literary historical project which aims to present an overview of English Literature to Hungarian readers. Hence its introductory nature: apart from the works of Dylan Thomas, Welsh writing in English has been hardly translated into Hungarian and is little known. After clarifying the somewhat convoluted term, the article provides a survey of the literary historical periods in Welsh writing in English since its emergence in front of the backdrop of industrialisation and aggressively imperial English language politics at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Then it proceeds to highlight five characteristics of that literature from a postcolonial perspective. Through selective micro-analyses of largely contemporary prose works, the article focuses on such aspects of Welsh writing in English as its concern with language itself (code-switching) and with rewriting Welsh history. In relation to the latter, it discusses the early presence of experimental tendencies and women writers, and the literature’s emphatic and recently “institutionalised” reassessment of the Welsh mythical heritage.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, this paper surveys the various visions of society Canada has lived through until recently. Monocultural, bicultural, multicultural models of political identity alternated to clash over the constitution, thereby making it impossible for Aboriginal peoples and Québécois to deliver nationalist arguments through the wall of liberal egalitarianism. The failure of the Meech Lake Accord pushed the country towards a federal and identity crisis inasmuch as it failed to reconcile the interests of national minorities with the interest of the nation as a whole within one legal framework. Continuing clashes over the constitution in the Canada-round at Charlottetown 1991-92, culminating in a failed referendum on the proposed constitutional amendment known as the Charlottetown Accord, show that inherent cleavages in the body politic have survived, so multiculturalism has only been a partial solution to a population management problem.
Opponents to tribal sovereignty define the notion as a case study of “Indians” wanting to have the cake and eat it too, while for those in favor of self-determination the question is not whether to have the cake and/or eat it, but the sole right of baking the cake. The metaphorical sovereignty cake is comprised of executive, legislative, and judicial layers which further include economic, cultural, and political measures taken by Indian peoples towards the realization of self-determination. The essay aims at exploring how the social, cognitive-perceptual, and emotional modes of humor within and outside Indian Country have been utilized to overcome the discrepancies rooted in the conflicting definitions of sovereignty. The analysis also addresses the issue of perspectives: humor arising from the paradoxical understandings of Indigenous and mainstream views of checks and balances, federal responsibilities, and treaty rights. The events cited demonstrate how American Indian communities employ humor to serve as an in/outgrouping mechanism and a way of social control to maintain community integrity.
Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty are often seen as forming a philosophical kinship, on account of their shared skepticism about the metaphysical tradition and the hegemony of positivist reason. It is all the more confounding, therefore, that in Rorty’s readings of Derrida, we find a frequently recurring argument to the effect that Derrida had best withdraw from the critique of the metaphysical tradition. Metaphysical problems, Rorty explains, are obsolete, no longer relevant to the purposes of expedient inquiry, thus they ought to be circumvented rather than overcome. The statement is rather perplexing insofar as Rorty himself seems to be engaged in such critique throughout his oeuvre. In my paper, I attempt to explicate Rorty’s apparently contradictory statement on rhetorical rather than conceptual grounds. I argue that the contradiction gets resolved once we assume that introducing the notion of circumvention is a rhetorical ploy on Rorty’s part, which serves to dissociate Derrida from his (Rorty’s) own critical project, and thereby appropriate his position.
The essay starts out from a close-reading analysis of Lewis Carroll‘s Victorian fairytale fantasies about Alice,s adventures in Wonderland with the aim to explore the complex poetical and political potentials of nonsense as a literary genre and a mode of artistic expression questioning the reliability of representational strategies across a variety of media. Nonsense is decoded as a meaningful yet gradually defamiliarized act of symbolization that makes the implied reader lose confidence in conventional interpretive apparati and urges inventive linguistic creativity and ludic co-authorship. As Lecercle points out, nonsense elicits a self-reflective awareness concerning the ambiguity of common sense and the (mal)functioning of our sense-making methods through revealing the inherent poetic-metaphorical, associative-imaginative surplus, as well as the authoritative ideological charge and socio-historical residue of “ordinary” representation. In a Kristevian sense, the transverbal corporeal facet of the nonsense animates the physicality of the represented-representing bodies and revivifies the materiality of signifying activity‘s lived experience, as incarnated rhythms and sounds stress the sensorial stimulation of the human voice. To understand how “we imagine the unimaginable” I interface ordinary nonsense, logical nonsense (Dunn, McDonald) and ethical nonsense as complementary categories.
As has frequently been remarked in poetry criticism, an elegy always suggests that the poet’s own death is inconceivable. What I add is that in many cases the lost person’s death is also inconceivable or, at least, unspeakable; therefore, the poet has to turn to something speakable, meaning repeatable: a form, a motif, etc. This means that there is always something in the poem that admittedly does not belong to the author’s subjectivity. In my study I offer a survey of three British poets’ elegies from the second half of the 20th century: sequences by Douglas Dunn, Peter Porter and Thom Gunn; the former two writing to commemorate their dead wives, and Gunn writing in memory of his lost friends. As I argue, all the three poets follow in the wake of classic examples to repeat and reiterate something that belongs to tradition: Dunn is inspired by the classic dramatic monologue and gaps in medieval ballads, Porter by Henry King’s poem, and Gunn by romantic poetry. All the three can be read as self-elegies: Dunn’s poems through the motif of the wedding rings, Porter’s through the motif of the dead wife waiting for him, and Gunn’s through the image of the dream where the two friends are united. Probably all elegies can be read as self-elegies, signifying that we speak about someone else’s death because we are unable to speak of our own.
Rules of randomness, understanding the incomprehensible and foresight of the unforeseeable are pervading concerns in McCarthy’s 2006 novel set in the border area between the US and Mexico. The essay applies some of the key concepts of chaos theory to address issues of randomness, order, and unpredictability in No Country for Old Men. It analyses the novel’s set of key characters, Moss, Chigurh and Sheriff Bell, as the manifestation of Poincaré’s three body problem. By focusing on relevant settings as Poincaré sections and maps, on characters representing rigidly deterministic vs. chaotic universes, as well as on the transformation of systems overtaken by turbulence into entirely new systems, the essay argues that the novel opens a window on the dynamic and holistic order governing the universe and our existence. Also, it points out that McCarthy’s insights regarding the complex implications of decision making and the power of the unexpected may help the reader evaluate the moral implications of such historical crises as WWII, the Vietnam War, and 9/11.
Investigating the literary representation of urban spaces and identities, my paper untangles the complex psychological and emotional relationship between the heroine and her beloved and hated cities in Sunetra Gupta’s The Glassblower’s Breath (1993). Drawing on Gernot Böhme’s (1993) theory of the atmospheric qualities of space, Steve Pile’s psychogeographical approach to reading cities, Walter Benjamin’s concept of phantasmagoria and various interpretations of fascination, the paper explores the creation of atmospheres in the novel and the role of fascination in the perception of London and Gupta’s female protagonist as phantasmagorias. I argue that – as urban imaginaries – the emotional fabric and atmosphere of the cities portrayed are as much created by their spaces and places, their inhabitants and visitors, as are manifested and formulated in emotional states of being, whether real or fictional, phantasmagoric or imaginary.
In Angela Carter’s neo-Victorian novel Nights at the Circus we get to know London at the end of the 19th century. The protagonist of the story is Fevvers, a blonde winged aerialiste, whose life and identity are inseparable from London. In the beginning of the novel she tells the story of her life to a reporter, Walser, and starts the narrative by stating that she is a Londoner, the “Cockney Venus”. Fevvers’ life is connected to the capital city in many ways, and although the characters travel throughout most of the story, London plays an important role in the whole novel. Fevvers in her life embodies many important urban and non-urban female characters in the Victorian era showing how they function in the city: the prostitute, the angel in the house, the madwoman in the attic, the New Woman, the shopgirl, the flâneuse, and the object of the male gaze. In my paper I show how Fevvers embodies and questions the traditional female roles, how her identity changes throughout the novel and how London plays a key role in the formation of Fevvers’ identity as the only solid identifying point for her.
In Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (2001) and Carol Birch’s Jamrach’s Menagerie (2011), the violation of a taboo is not simply the centre or the climax of the story, but rather, the entire story is told exactly because of an incomprehensible and indigestible event. Both novels are contemporary representatives of nautical fiction, telling an ordeal at sea with the protagonist eventually resorting to cannibalism. The two main characters consume a best friend and a brother respectively, but as a result of their transgressive act, the representational ethics of taking a dead man’s place in order to survive organises the narrative pattern of both books. I aim to explore how the thematic element of cannibalism affects the narrative structures of these texts. Cannibalism creates a fictitious, out-of-time, liminal space around itself during the tensest scenes: the chapters recounting the tragic incident mark where the whole narrative blooms from, bearing a resemblance to the navel metaphor Sigmund Freud uses to describe the point of origin in every dream.