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Asunción López-Varela Azcárate

This essay is a study of modernist chronicle, a hybrid genre that became particularly popular in the period between World War i and World War ii. A number of modernist writers embarked on this endeavour of “chronicling” or rewriting the historical record and writing themselves into public memory, among them Ford Madox Ford. These texts move between memoir, autobiography, fiction and chronicle and, thus, they blur the distinction between fact and fiction, real and imaginary events. This generic hybridism and ambiguity may be used to hide traumatic experiences, as in the case of Ford’s novel The Good Soldier.

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Dean Bowers

This paper engages the debate regarding Dowell’s iconic status as a representative of modernism. In his article “The Good Soldier and the War for British Modernism” Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy claims that John Dowell is a representation of modernism, or at least of one type of modernism that he claims Ford felt would not satisfactorily represent the modern condition and dilemma. By contrast, this paper argues that John Dowell is not a modernist at all. The narrative could be called modernist, in the sense that it is a record of Dowell’s thoughts as they come to him; it is a reflection of consciousness. However, Dowell claims that he is merely trying to report to a silent auditor; the character has no aspirations of creating a new literary form. The modernist intentions are those of Ford; he is re-constructing the consciousness of his character.

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Aimee L. Pozorski

Canonical readings of The Good Soldier interpret this new modernism through the novel’s unreliable narrator, its achronological view of time, its weary fascination with the sordid affairs of the wealthy, and its self-consciousness about the conventions of masculinity. Such attributes make Ford’s novel, in these readings, an exemplary modernist text – a text that looks back at the nineteenth century and its conventional plots as safely in the past. However, I propose that the novel is much more ambivalent as a modernist text than a surface reading reveals. I argue here that the novel’s repeated figure of infanticide connotes the simultaneous birth and death of modernism as a new and threatening literary form.

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Timothy Sutton

This essay discusses Ford’s frustration with the religious and political views of the English and how it influences his portrayal of the English in The Good Soldier. The essay examines Ford’s political writings and memoirs in which he explicitly distinguishes between English “Roman Catholics,” strict dogmatic moralists like Hilaire Belloc who viewed Catholicism in pseudo-Calvinistic terms, and “Tory-Papists” like himself, who embraced the influence of European culture on Catholic aesthetic sensibility and saw the Church as an inclusive spiritual family. The Good Soldier represents Ford’s attempt to explore what happens to a society that has no sense of Catholicism and that the narrator of The Good Soldier, Dowell, a culturally and spiritually obtuse American, gives voice to Ford’s inherited Catholic sympathies.

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Douglas Robinson

Aleksis Kivi (1834-1872) is Finland’s greatest writer. His great 1870 novel The Brothers Seven has been translated 59 times into 34 languages. Is he world literature, or not? In Aleksis Kivi and/as World Literature Douglas Robinson uses this question as a wedge for exploring the nature and nurture of world literature, and the contributions made by translators to it.

Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of major and minor literature, Robinson argues that translators have mainly “majoritized” Kivi—translated him respectfully—and so created images of literary tourism that ill suit recognition as world literature. Far better, he insists, is the impulse to minoritize—to find and celebrate the minor writer in Kivi, who “ sends the major language racing.”

The Completion of a Poem

Letters to Young Poets

Mu Yang

The Completion of a Poem is the first book-length translation of Yang Mu’s poetics. In eighteen letters addressed to young poets, Yang Mu discusses essential questions regarding the definition of poetry, a poet’s growth, the importance of nature and friendship, the choice of subject, the process of creation and publication, and relationships between poet and society, identity and history, and poetry and truth.

Using a comparative approach, Yang Mu draws on literary resources from Chinese and Western traditions to expound his views, and this helps to nurture in young poets a vision of world poetry that connects different but equally inspiring expressions of humanity. In style and in theme, this book is a companion piece to Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and Goethe’s Dichtung und Wahrheit.

"Yang Mu is not only one of the greatest living poets and essayists in the Chinese language, he is also an erudite scholar, deeply versed in both Chinese and Western poetic traditions from antiquity to our modern age. In his eighteen letters to young poets, which serve as his Ars Poetica, he emphasizes that the creation of true poetry requires that insight and knowledge are paired with personal integrity and high moral standing. Yang Mu’s letters are often illuminated by exquisite landscape essays of great lyrical intensity which show his facility to allow manifestations of the outer world to reveal inner states of mind.

This excellent translation by Lisa Wong deserves to be read by all who consider that poetry matters."
Göran Malmqvist, Swedish Academy

Mu Yang