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Éloge de l’idiotie

Pour une nouvelle rhétorique chez Breton, Faulkner, Beckett et Cortázar


Marie Berne

Le terme idiotie est créé au début du 19e siècle pour remplacer celui d’ idiotisme qui désignait à la fois l’absence de culture et la stupidité au sens médical. Pourtant l’origine grecque introduit une nuance : idios signifie ce qui est spécial, propre ou original. De là, dire que l’idiot, de Dostoïevski notamment, appartient à la catégorie des mélancoliques, êtres exceptionnels et artistes selon Aristote dans le Problème XXX, encourage une nouvelle définition du terme.
Cet Éloge de l’idiotie observe pour la première fois de près le phénomène de l’idiotie romanesque en Occident à travers le 20e siècle. À la différence du 19e, le personnage idiot ne transmet pas seulement un thème mais bien une nouvelle façon de s’exprimer et d’écrire. Mettant en dialogue les termes idiotie et rhétorique, cette étude offre un examen méticuleux de quatre textes choisis et réunis de façon inédite: Nadja de Breton, Le Bruit et la Fureur de Faulkner, L’Innommable de Beckett et Marelle de Cortázar.
Nadja, Benjy, l’Innommable et la Maga manifestent une ignorance et une singularité qui font d’eux ces idiots persécutés du fait de leur perception « anormale » de la réalité. Tout s’inverse lorsque leurs propos étranges se mêlent à la langue originale de chacun des livres. Proche de l’écrivain, l’idiot est à son tour métaphore de la rhétorique à l’œuvre, la figure idéale pour remettre en question toute prétendue intelligence ou raison au profit de l’éloge d’une forme de naïveté, une bienheureuse éthique de l’idiotie.

'Relations Stop Nowhere'

The Common Literary Foundations of German and American Literature 1830-1917


Hugh Ridley

This book attempts for the first time a comparative literary history of Germany and the USA in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Its material does not come from the familiar overlaps of individual German and American writers, but from the work of the literary historians of the two countries after 1815, when American intellectuals took Germany as a model for their project to create an American national literature. The first part of the book examines fundamental structural affinities between the two literary histories and the common problems these caused, especially in questions of canon, realism, aesthetics and in the marginalization of popular and women’s writing. In the second part, significant figures whose work straddle the two literatures – from Sealsfield and Melville, Whitman and Thomas Mann to Nietzsche, Emerson and Bellow – are discussed in detail, and the arguments of the first part are shown in their relevance to understanding major writers. This book is not merely comparative in scope: it shows that only international comparison can explain the course of American literary history in the nineteenth and twentieth century. As recent developments in American Studies explore the multi-cultural and ‘hybrid’ nature of the American tradition, this book offers evidence of the dependencies which linked American and German national literary history.

The Secret Country

Decoding Jayne Anne Phillips’ Cryptic Fiction


Sarah Robertson

The Secret Country is the first monograph on the work of the contemporary American novelist Jayne Anne Phillips. Through detailed and innovative textual analysis this study considers the southern aspects of Phillips’ writing. Robertson demonstrates the importance of Phillips’ place within the southern literary canon by identifying the echoes of William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter and Edgar Allan Poe that permeate her work.
Phillips’ complex attachments to a regional past are explored through both psychoanalytical and historical materialist approaches, revealing not only the writer’s distinctly southern preoccupations, but also her reflections on contemporary American society. Tracing the family dynamics in Phillips’ work from the turn of the twentieth century to the present, this book examines the effects of increased modernization and capitalization on everyday interactions, and questions the nature of the author’s backward glance to the past. This volume is of interest for a wide audience, particularly students and scholars of contemporary southern and American literature.

Diaspora and Multiculturalism

Common Traditions and New Developments


Edited by Monika Fludernik

In postcolonial theory we have now reached a new stage in the succession of key concepts. After the celebrations of hybridity in the work of Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak, it is now the concept of diaspora that has sparked animated debates among postcolonial critics. This collection intervenes in the current discussion about the 'new' diaspora by placing the rise of diaspora within the politics of multiculturalism and its supercession by a politics of difference and cultural-rights theory. The essays present recent developments in Jewish negotiations of diasporic tradition and experience, discussing the reinterpretation of concepts of the 'old' diaspora in late twentieth- century British and American Jewish literature. The second part of the volume comprises theoretical and critical essays on the South Asian diaspora and on multicultural settings between Australia, Africa, the Caribbean and North America. The South Asian and Caribbean diasporas are compared to the Jewish prototype and contrasted with the Turkish diaspora in Germany. All essays deal with literary reflections on, and thematizations of, the diasporic predicament.

Theodor Fontane and the European Context

Literature, Culture and Society in Prussia and Europe


Edited by Patricia Howe and Helen Chambers

On the centenary of Fontane’s death and at the turn of the century these essays take a new look at this supreme chronicler of Prussia and of the Germany that emerges after 1871. Written by scholars from different countries and disciplines, they focus on novels and theatre reviews from the perspectives of philosophy, sociology, comparative literature and translation theory, and in the contexts of topography and painting. Connections and crosscurrents emerge to reveal new aspects of Fontane’s poetics and to produce contrasting but complementary readings of his novels. He appears in the company of predecessors and contemporaries, such as Scott, Thackeray, Saar, Ibsen, Turgenev, but also in that of writers he has rarely, if ever, been seen beside, such as E.T.A. Hoffmann, Stendhal, Trollope, Henry James and Edith Wharton, Beckett and Faulkner. The historical novel and the social position of women are each a recurring focus of interest. Fontane emerges as receptive to other voices, as a precursor of developments in modern narrative, and confirmed as the novelist who brings the nineteenth-century German novel closest to the broad traditions of European realism.

From World To World: An Armamentarium

For the Study Of Poetic Discourse In Translation


Cees Koster

In this book one of the old traditions of translation studies is revived: the tradition of the comparative study of translation and original. The aim of the author is to develop an armamentarium, a set of analytical instruments and a procedure, for the systematic study of poetic discourse in translation. The armamentarium provides the means to describe the ‘translational interpretation’, that is: the interpretation of the original as it emerges from the translation and may be constructed in the course of a comparison between the two texts.
The practical result of this study is based on a solid theoretical foundation. This study most of all reflects on the possibilities of translation comparison and description per se. It is one of the few books in which an in-depth study is undertaken into the principles of translation comparison itself, into its limits and possibilities, and into its central concepts (‘shift’, ‘unit of comparison’ etcetera). Before presenting his own proposal for a comparative procedure, the author critically evaluates several existing methods, particularly those of Toury, Van Leuven-Zwart and the German transfer-oriented approach.
The theoretical considerations in this book are amply illustrated by analyses of translated works of poets as Rutger Kopland and Robert Lowell. The book also contains an extensive case study into the translations, by the German poet Paul Celan, of a selection of William Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Lyrik "made in USA"

Vermittlung und Rezeption in der Bundesrepublik


Agnes C. Mueller

This is the first book to analyze fully the West German mediation and reception of American poetry following World War II. Contrary to expectations, it shows that, despite some serious and thoughtful attempts by German authors at mediating contemporary US-poetry to a West German audience shortly after the war, a broad reception was only successful in the late 1960s, concurrent with the student protests and the discovery in Germany of the beat generation. This development is surprising when compared to Germany's much earlier and enthusiastic reception of American prose, film, and mass culture.
The study explores some of the cultural, political, and literary reasons for the delay in poetry mediation and reception - especially in the reception of William Carlos Williams's poems. It describes how poets such as Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and especially Frank O'Hara, Ted Berrigan, Anne Waldman, and John Giorno had and continue to have a significant impact on contemporary German writers and audiences following successful mediation in anthologies by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1960), Walter Höllerer (1961), and especially Rolf Dieter Brinkmann (1968).
The book will be of interest to Germanists in both Germany and the US because it is the first study of an important but neglected aspect of German literary history between 1945 and 1989. Additionally, the author conducted interviews with significant figures of Germany's contemporary literary scene (Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Peter Hamm and Michael Krüger) which are transcribed and attached in the Appendix. This study will be equally important for scholars and students of Comparative Literature, since it not only deals with two national literatures, but is especially concerned with cross-literary and cross-cultural relations. Finally, the book should also be well received by scholars of American Studies both in Europe and in the US, since it adds significantly to our understanding of the USA in its global context.

Revolutions & Watersheds

Transatlantic Dialogues, 1775-1815


Edited by W.M. Verhoeven and Beth Dolan Kautz

The years between 1775 and 1815 constitute a crucial episode in the evolutionary history of Europe and America. Between the start of the American Revolution, with the first armed clashes between British regulars and American militiamen at Concord and Lexington, and the closing act of the French Revolution, with the eclipse of Napoleon's dreams of pan-European glory on the battlefield of Waterloo, America and Europe witnessed the rise and fall of radicalism, which left virtually no aspect of public and private life untouched. While the American colonies managed to wrench themselves away from their colonial parent, and while France careered down the stormy rapids of its own Revolution, Great Britain went through the turbulent process of redefining itself vis-à-vis both these emerging nations, and the world at large. But the period 1775 to 1815 offers more than the two ideological Revolutions that determined the face of modern America and Europe: feeding into and emanating from these Revolutions there were major watersheds in virtually all areas of cultural, intellectual and political life - varying from the rise of Romanticism to the birth of abolitionism, and from the beginnings of modern feminism to the creation of modern nationhood and its enduring cultural stereotypes.
In this collection of interdisciplinary essays, historians and literary critics from both sides of the Atlantic analyze a broad spectrum of the watersheds and faultlines that arose in this formative era of Euro-American relations. Individually, the essays trace one or more of the transatlantic patterns of intellectual, cultural or scientific cross-pollination between the Old and the New World, between pre- and post-Revolutionary modes and mores. Collectively, the essays argue that the many revolutions that produced the national ideologies, identities and ideas of state of present-day America and Europe did not merely play a role in national debates, but that they very much belonged to an intricate network of transnational and, more particularly, transatlantic dialogues.

Postcolonialism & Autobiography

Michelle Cliff, David Dabydeen, Opal Palmer Adisa


Edited by Alfred Hornung and Ernstpeter Ruhe

The two volumes on Postcolonialism and Autobiography examine the affinity of postcolonial writing to the genre of autobiography. The contributions of specialists from Northern Africa, Europe and the United States focus on two areas in which the interrelation of postcolonialism and autobiography is very prominent and fertile: the Maghreb and the Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean. The colonial background of these regions provides the stimulus for writers to launch a program for emancipation in an effort to constitute a decolonized subject in autobiographical practice. While the French volume addresses issues of the autobiographical genre in the postcolonial conditions of the Maghreb and the Caribbean with reference to France, the English volume analyzes the autobiographical writings of David Dabydeen (Guyana), Michelle Cliff, Opal Palmer Adisa, George Lamming, Wilson Harris (Jamaica), and Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua) who have maintained their cultural Caribbean origin while living in England or the United States. Critics such as William Boelhower, Leigh Gilmore, Sidonie Smith, and Gayatri Spivak reveal the many layers of different cultures (Indian, African, European, American) that are covered over by the colonial powers. The homeland, exile, the experience of migration and hybridity condition the postcolonial existence of writers and critics. The incorporation of excerpts from the writers' works is meant to show the great variety and riches of a hybrid imagination and to engage in an interactive dialogue with critics.


Peter Davidson

Ezra Pound and Roman Poetry is an examination of a crucial phase in the development of Pound as translator and, therefore, of creative translation in the twentieth century. The book provides a survey of Pound's attempt to appropriate the poetry of Classical Rome, by tracing the histories of the poet's involvement with Horace, Virgil, Catullus, Ovid and Propertius, in order to express his own marginal position within London during the First World War. No extensive critical discussion is attempted, but attention is given to Pound's critical writings on the Latin poets as well as his translations from their work. Dr Davidson also treats other aspects of Pound's problematic relation to the Classical Tradition: the use and abuse of dictionaries; Laforgue and Baudelaire as a third term haunting Pound's translations; the difficult monolith of English classicism; the invention of an oppositional romanitas. It is hoped that this work may encourage others to produce the comprehensive survey which Pound's sustained and Protean relationship to the classical languages would appear to demand. Pound's readings of Latin poetry are inevitably readings also of English poetry, in the context of England, and particularly London, in the first two decades of the twentieth century.