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Author: Joshua Richards
In T. S. Eliot’s Ascetic Ideal, Joshua Richards charts an intellectual history of T. S. Eliot’s interaction with asceticism. This history is drawn from Eliot’s own education in the topic with the texts he read integrated into detailed textual analysis. Eliot’s early encounters with the ascetic ideal began a lifetime of interplay and reflection upon self-denial, purgation, and self-surrender. In 1909, he began a study of mysticism, likely, in George Santayana’s seminar, and thereafter showed the influence of this education. Yet, his interaction with the ascetic ideal and his background in mysticism was not a simple thing; still, his early cynicism was slowly transformed to an embrace.
Author: Leo Courbot
With Fred D'Aguiar and Caribbean Literature: Metaphor, Myth, Memory, Leo Courbot offers the first research monograph entirely dedicated to a comprehensive reading of the verse and prose works of Fred D'Aguiar, prized American author of Anglo-Guyanese origin. “Postcolonial” criticism, when related to the history of the African diaspora, regularly inscribes itself in the wake of Sartrean philosophy. However, Fred D'Aguiar's both typical and untypical Caribbean background, in addition to the singularity of his diction, call for a different approach, which Leo Courbot convincingly carries out by reading literature in the light of Jacques Derrida and Édouard Glissant's less conventional sense of the intrinsically metaphorical and cross-cultural nature of language.
In Literature and Truth Richard Lansdown continues a discussion concerning the truth-bearing status of imaginative literature that pre-dates Plato. The book opens with a general survey of contemporary approaches in philosophical aesthetics, and a discussion of the contribution to the question made by British philosopher R. G. Collingwood in particular, in his Speculum Mentis. It then offers six case-studies from the Romantic era to the contemporary one as to how imaginative authors have variously dealt with bodies of discursive thought such as Stoicism, Christianity, evolution, humanism, and socialism. It concludes with a reading going in the other direction, in which the diary of Bronislaw Malinowski is seen in terms of the anthropologist’s reading habits during his legendary Trobriander fieldwork.
Landscapes of Tomorrow
An innovative volume of interdisciplinary essays on the significant British writer J. G. Ballard (1930-2009), exploring the physical, cultural and intertextual landscapes in several key novels with a central focus on The Atrocity Exhibition (1970), one of the most challenging texts in contemporary literature. Contributors include established critics of Ballard alongside newcomers. Different spatial concepts underpin the essays, from the landscapes of Ballard’s youth in Shanghai and his life in suburban London, to nuclear testing spaces and outer space exploration. Figurative locations typical of Ballard’s work are explored, including the beach, the motorway, the high-rise and the shopping mall. Textual spaces are explored through Ballard’s affiliation with modernist literary forms, including surrealist prose writing and collage, and poetic romanticism.
Author: Hugh Ridley
This book analyses Darwin’s influence on art and the effect of his science on experiences of beauty. The first chapter discusses Darwin’s great forerunner, Alexander von Humboldt, and his contribution to thinking about the relationship between science and beauty. The second examines the public reception of Darwin in Germany, focusing on the German Naturalists and the important scientific controversies which Darwin’s idea provoked. It shows the political use of science (Häckel and Virchow) and foreshadows present-day debates between Darwinism and Creationism, science and an idealized view of nature.
Against this background the book shows the effect of Darwin on three important fields: the perception of landscape in major writers (Zola, Lawrence, Jacobsen, Benn and Brecht) before 1920; the portrayal of wild life, as revealed in bird-painting; and the understanding of the relationship between the human body and character.
The book brings together for the first time Darwin’s The Expression of Emotion with the work of major European novelists (Eliot, Gutzkow and Freytag), focusing on the place of the older understandings contained in physiognomy, which Darwin challenged, on the portrayal of ethnicity, and on debates about acting, including for the young Brecht.
Essays and Testimonies Around Excision and Circumcision
Series:  Matatu, Volume: 37
Editor: Chantal Zabus
Often labelled ‘rituals’ or ‘customs’, male circumcision and female excision are also irreversible amputations of human genitalia, with disastrous and at times life-long consequences for both males and females. However, scholars and activists alike have been diffident about making a case for symmetry between these two practices. Fearful Symmetries investigates the sociological, medical, legal, and religious justifications for male circumcision and female excision while it points to various symmetries and asymmetries in their discursive representation in cultural anthropology, law, medicine, and literature.
Experts have been convened in the above fields – SAMI ALDEEB ABU-SAHLIEH, DOMINIQUE ARNAUD, LAURENCE COX, ROBERT DARBY, ANNE–MARIE DAUPHIN–TINTURIER, TOBE LEVIN, MICHAEL SINGLETON, J. STEVEN SVOBODA – along with first-person testimonies from J.K. BRAYTON, SAFAA FATHY, KOFFI KWAHULÉ, and ALEX WANJALA. The volume covers various genres such as sacred writings, literary and philosophical texts, websites, songs, experiential vignettes, cartoons, and film as well as a vast geographical spectrum – from Algeria, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Kenya, and Somalia to the then Congo and contemporary Northern Zambia; from Syria to Australia and the United States.
In addressing many variants of excision and circumcision as well as other practices such as the elongation of the labia, and various forms of circumcision in Jewish, Islamic, and African contexts, Fearful Symmetries provides an unprecedented, panoptical view of both practices.