This chapter examines how Annie Ernaux rewrites the textual boundary between youth and age in Mémoire de fille (2016). Throughout her life Ernaux has written and rewritten aspects of her life history, but in Mémoire de fille she excavates a period of her life that has only been referred to briefly in previous texts. I will consider how this new piece in the puzzle both completes and complicates the representation of the author’s life and epoch in Ernaux’s œuvre, focusing particularly on the textual relationship between youth and age. In Les Années, in part through the shift from ‘je’ to ‘elle’, Ernaux represents her ageing self as estranged from her younger selves in a continuing process of loss; Shirley Jordan has argued that the voice of the ageing narrator in this text is marked by a new ‘fragility, anxiety and fear’ (2011, 138). Here I will argue that in Mémoire de fille, the confrontation with memories of an abusive relationship leads to a new, and stronger voice of ageing, and through the construction of a ‘survivor narrative’ to a new iteration of Ernaux’s feminist politics.
This chapter investigates the complex value of cloth goods used to care for diseased bodies in sixteenth-century Nuremberg. Clothes provided physically adaptive barriers against the malodorous emanations of leprosy, plague, and syphilis victims. Authorities viewed the odiferous bodies of the sick not only as unseemly, but they believed that their foul smells violated city airs with disease-producing miasma. The solution of cloth materials, however, proved to be problematic because the fabrics became soiled with human odors. Therefore, the absorbent, transferable, and portable material properties of cloth meant that unsuspecting or malicious city inhabitants disseminated the miasmic odors of the diseased bodies as they used, washed, and traded contaminated fabrics within the city. Beleaguered city leaders designated city spaces and personnel to neutralize the threat of even the smallest piece of clothing or bandaging. This study reveals how Nuremberg’s leaders were in a continuous process of solving physical problems which emerged in the course of city life. They not only needed spaces and materials to care for the diseased, but they also required places and procedures to cleanse the materials used for that care. Ultimately, it was this reactive adaptation of city space that shaped the use of landscape and fashioned daily life in the city.
Under the staunchly Catholic Austrian Habsburgs, David Ungnad (d. 1603) served as both a high government official and a Lutheran lay leader. At a time when Lutheran aristocrats like Ungnad dominated the provincial estates, Emperor Maximilian II chose Ungnad as his ambassador to the Ottoman court (1573–78). In 1576, on orders from Vienna, he sent a long circular letter to the Austrian estates. Hoping to gain their approval of higher taxes for border defense, he explained the current circumstances that precluded other possible means of protecting the border. This essay explores what Ungnad said, as it were, between the lines, speaking as a Lutheran to a largely Lutheran audience. He argued that Maximilian was not to blame for his failure to win the elective crown of Poland-Lithuania, a multi-confessional state. As a warning to true Christians in the West, he pointed to the “collapse” of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire, where Church offices were sold to the highest bidder by Ottoman officials. In other words, the Habsburg body politic that afforded only limited autonomy to Lutherans was nonetheless worth fighting for. Ungnad was a true Lutheran politique, rarely discussed by contemporaries but of vital importance behind the scenes.
This essay is a contribution to a new (or renewed) focus of interest observable in various disciplines, including – over the last few years – classical philology: an interest in the historical dimension of an important reception effect which representations in literature and many other media can elicit, namely ‘aesthetic illusion’ (frequently also termed differently, e.g., ‘immersion’). Aesthetic illusion is particularly difficult to ascertain for remote periods and cultures, for which empirical methods are inapplicable and where reception testimonies are scarce. However, there is indirect evidence in aesthetic theory, in rhetoric, and above all in certain artefacts and literary texts. After a clarification of the concept and term ‘aesthetic illusion’ and of the cultural-historical preconditions for its emergence, this essay discusses some evidence for the existence of aesthetic illusion in ancient ‘theory’ and literary practice (in Homer, Sophocles, and Heliodorus), including instances of a playful use of this phenomenon (in Pseudo-Homer and Aristophanes). All of this indicates that aesthetic illusion is not a recent phenomenon of the past few centuries but can be traced back to ancient cultures.
Léopold Sédar Senghor, poète de la négritude et intellectuel engagé, se lance à la recherche d’une identité noire dans un contexte colonial, en faisant appel à l’Afrique mythique d’un âge d’or perdu. Jean-Paul Sartre analyse ce mouvement naissant en transférant un personnage de la mythologie gréco-romaine vers le continent africain. Cet article, basé sur une approche comparative, montre que le renvoi au mythe classique fait du poète de la négritude un Orphée noir en quête de ses racines africaines pour en arracher la négritude, comme Orphée descend dans les entrailles de la terre pour y retrouver sa femme Eurydice. Contrairement au mythe initial, le mythe senghorien est tourné vers la redécouverte d’un passé mais également vers un avenir qui se caractérise par l’affirmation des valeurs culturelles africaines. L’âge mythique de la négritude n’aura pas été une quête stérile mais plutôt une étape transitoire en réponse au problème particulier de la place de l’Homme noir dans le monde et à la question universelle de l’acceptation de la différence.