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Interbellum Literature

Writing in a Season of Nihilism

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Cor Hermans

In Interbellum Literature historian Cor Hermans presents a panorama of modernist writing in the ominous period 1918-1940. The book offers, in full scope, an engaging synthesis of the most stimulating ideas and tendencies in the novels and plays of a wide circle of writers from France (Proust, Gide, Camus, Céline, Tzara, Aragon, Simone Weil), England and Ireland (Virginia Woolf, Orwell, Joyce, Beckett), the USA (Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur Miller, O’Neill, Hemingway), Austria-Hungary (Musil, Broch, Kafka, Zweig, Roth), and Germany (Hesse, Jünger, Böll, Thomas Mann). Caught between world wars, they nevertheless succeeded in creating some of the best literature ever. They created a philosophy as well, rejecting bourgeois ‘mechanical’ society, designing escape routes from the nihilism of the times.

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John Neubauer

This work, completed by Neubauer on the very eve of his death in 2015, complements both his benchmark The Emancipation of Music from Language (Yale UP, 1986) and his History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe (John Benjamins, 2004-10). It thematizes Romantic interest in oral speech, its poetical usage in music and musical discourse, and its political usage in the national-communitarian cult of the vernacular community. Subtly and with great erudition, Neubauer traces in different genres and fields the many transnational cross-currents around Romantic cultural criticism and writings on music and language, offering not only fresh analytical insights but also a rich account of the interaction between Romantic aesthetics and cultural nationalism.

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Marijan Dović and Jón Karl Helgason

In National Poets, Cultural Saints Marijan Dović and Jón Karl Helgason explore the ways in which certain artists, writers, and poets in Europe have become major figures of cultural memory, emulating the symbolic role formerly played by state rulers and religious saints. The authors develop the concept of cultural sainthood in the context of nationalism as a form of invisible religion, identify major shifts in canonization practices from antiquity to the nationally-motivated commemoration of the nineteenth century, and explore the afterlives of two national poets, Slovenia's France Prešeren and Iceland's Jónas Hallgrímsson. The book presents a useful analytical model of canonization for further studies on cultural sainthood and opens up fruitful perspectives for the understanding of national movements.

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Edited by Sander Brouwer

Questions of collective identity and nationhood dominate the memory debate in both the high and popular cultures of postsocialist Russia, Poland and Ukraine. Often the ‘Soviet’ and ‘Russian’ identity are reconstructed as identical; others remember the Soviet regime as an anonymous supranational ‘Empire’, in which both Russian and non-Russian national cultures were destroyed. At the heart of this ‘empire talk’ is a series of questions pivoting on the opposition between constructed ‘ethnic’ and ‘imperial’ identities. Did ethnic Russians constitute the core group who implemented the Soviet Terror, e.g. the mass murders of the Poles in Katyn and the Ukrainians in the Holodomor? Or were Russians themselves victims of a faceless totalitarianism? The papers in this volume explore the divergent and conflicting ways in which the Soviet regime is remembered and re-imagined in contemporary Russian, Polish and Ukrainian cinema and media.