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From Caxton to Beckett

Essays presented to W.H. Toppen on the occasion of his 70th birthday


Edited by J.B.H. Alblas and Richard Todd

The Matter of Kings' Lives

The Design of Past and Present in the early fourteenth-century verse chronicles by Pierre de Langtoft and Robert Mannyng


Thea Summerfield

The rhymed chronicles by Pierre de Langtoft and Robert Mannyng, written between c.1305 and 1338, form a unique pair in the history of English literature and historiography. Both were written in the North of England, both deal with the history of the kings of England from Brutus to the death of Edward I in July 1307. Yet the differences between them are significant. Langtoft wrote in Anglo-Norman with a specific purpose and a specific audience in mind. Robert Mannyng translated a large part of Langtoft's work into English for a very different kind of audience. Although he stayed close to his source-text in many places, his deviations offer insights into the way the English clergy and the public they addressed viewed themselves, their history and their future.
The Matter of Kings' Lives is of interest to social and political historians, especially those interested in the reign of Edward I and Anglo-Scottish relations, and to literary historians who may find that these works have more to offer than has hitherto been realized.

"For Was I Not Born Here?"

Identity and Culture in the Work of Yvonne du Fresne


Anne Holden Rønning

This study centres on the fiction of the New Zealand writer Yvonne du Fresne, the descendant of Danish and Danish-Huguenot families who emigrated to New Zealand in the late-nineteenth century and settled in the Manawatu area. It explores how memories of the past haunt generations of immigrants, and how issues of language, politics, and social norms live on through generations, affecting the formation of new identities and homes. Is it only, as with Astrid in Motherland, that by returning to our roots we can finally feel that we are at home in more than one country?
As Lauris Edmond writes, du Fresne’s work is a tapestry of the past and present, storying immigrant life. Flitting in and out of the past is shown to be one way of coming to terms with the present and of understanding the importance of home, as is evident in The Book of Ester and Frédérique, both centering on the manifold, complex European cultural traditions that were often overlooked in settler countries. Another is to be an inquisitive spy on the land like the child narrator, Astrid Westergaard, in du Fresne’s magnificent stories, many of them originally radio broadcasts, which depict life in a small Danish community in the Manawatu in the 1930s, often in a humorous and ironic manner.
Through her portrayal of fictional Scandinavian immigrants, du Fresne throws light on a relatively neglected area in New Zealand studies. Reading her writing against its reception shows how it raises issues of cultural colonization, stereotyping, and difference; the consequences of migration and exile taken up are, however, equally relevant in our global society of today, and expressive of transculturation in the globalized present.


Edited by Sam Slote and Wim van Mierlo

Joyce's methods of composition have only recently begun to be examined in a rigorous fashion. Already the work done on the genesis of Joyce's texts has fostered both new insights and new questions regarding the overall status of his oeuvre. The conference Genitricksling Joyce, held at Antwerp in 1997, testified to the variety and vitality of genetic investigations into Joyce's work. We have tried to recreate this vitality in the present volume with a double purpose, or double trick. First, the essays collected in Genitricksling Joyce are not only indicative of the growing body of genetic scholarship, they also signify methodological and theoretical changes among its practitioners towards a more open form of discussion and understanding. Second, we hope that these essays will clearly demonstrate the relevance of genetic criticism to current critical and cultural concerns in Joyce studies.

In Black and Gold

Contiguous Traditions in Post-War British and Irish Poetry


Edited by C.C. Barfoot

In Black and Gold indicates that opposed styles of poetry reveal subterranean correspondences that occasionally meet and run together. Austerity or tomfoolery are two of the many valid responses to the human condition that create the contiguous traditions that cannot help touching and reacting to each other. The poetry discussed in this book deals with the relation of individuals to strange or to familiar landscapes, and what this means to their own sense of displacement or rootedness; with the use of history as an escape from or as a challenge to an apparently failing present; and with the role of nationalism either as a refuge for angry frustration, or as a weapon against the affronting world, or as an ambivalent loyalty that needs to be scoured, or as all three. Here we find poetry as a means of discovering true or false allegiances and valid or invalid public and private identities; poetry as a medium for exploring the uses of the demotic in confronting the breakdowns and injustices of modern democracy; poetry as play in the midst of private and public woe; poetry as a spiritual quest, as a spiritual scourging, as a wrestling with spiritual absences; and poetry as an intermittent and sporadic commemoration of the triumphs and delights of epiphanic encounters with the physical world.

Back to the Present: Forward to the Past, Volume II

Irish Writing and History since 1798


Edited by Patricia A. Lynch, Joachim Fischer and Brian Coates

The island of Ireland, north and south, has produced a great diversity of writing in both English and Irish for hundreds of years, often using the memories embodied in its competing views of history as a fruitful source of literary inspiration. Placing Irish literature in an international context, these two volumes explore the connection between Irish history and literature, in particular the Rebellion of 1798, in a more comprehensive, diverse and multi-faceted way than has often been the case in the past. The fifty-three authors bring their national and personal viewpoints as well as their critical judgements to bear on Irish literature in these stimulating articles. The contributions also deal with topics such as Gothic literature, ideology, and identity, as well as gender issues, connections with the other arts, regional Irish literature, in particular that of the city of Limerick, translations, the works of Joyce, and comparisons with the literature of other nations. The contributors are all members of IASIL (International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures). Back to the Present: Forward to the Past. Irish Writing and History since 1798 will be of interest to both literary scholars and professional historians, but also to the general student of Irish writing and Irish culture.


André Verbart

The present study examines the relationship of Milton's Adam and Eve, their different identities, and their different roles, and explicates the link between the nature of their relationship and the dramatic developments of the biblical story. The story is considered in the light of Milton's ethics as explicated and implicated in Paradise Lost, which are crucially different from the present-day ethics which we naturally tend to superimpose or take for granted. He makes use of two particular means of investigation. Firstly, the author provides a technical analysis of Milton's style, with an emphasis on verbal (often latinate) ambiguity and on a feature hitherto hardly described in Milton criticism, namely syntactical ambiguity, all yielding extra information. Secondly, on the basis of newly found verbal parallels between Milton's Christian epic and Vergil's Roman epic the Aeneid the author provides an analysis of the intended contrast between Milton's Adam and Eve and Vergil's Dido and Aeneas; on Milton's request, so to speak, the romance of Adam and Eve is put in the epic and Vergilian context. The author's observations on Milton's strategic use of the Aeneid as an antithetic frame of reference for his own Paradise Lost also leads to an investigation into a poem which in its turn uses Milton's Paradise Lost as an antithetic frame of reference, namely Wordsworth's Prelude.

The Crafting of Chaos

Narrative Structure in Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel and The Diviners


Hildegard Kuester

In this study of the Canadian novelist Margaret Laurence, recent narratological models provide the theoretical framework for a textual analysis that aims at complementing previous thematic critiques. The chief focus is on The Stone Angel and The Diviners, which the conclusion then presents in the context of the other novels in Laurence's Manawaka cycle. Consideration of the published works is rounded off with genetic comparison of the novelist's typescript drafts and an evaluation of the manuscript notes kept in the archives of McMaster and York Universities.
The central structural principle of The Stone Angel is its dovetailing of past and present scenes. Temporal arrangement, reflecting the frequency and duration of Hagar's memories, reveals the hold of memory over the central character and her attempts to suppress her fear of mortality. Hagar-as-narrator manipulates character-presentation and description to her own advantage. In a basically oppositional structure, her need for control is reflected in the neat ordering of the narrative. The verbal texture of the novel serves to establish a value system that insists on the superiority of imported culture over Western Canadian forms.
The Diviners shares a number of narrative similarities with The Stone Angel, but the latter's formal rigidity has yielded, by the time Laurence writes her last novel, to the concept of multiplicity - characters, time planes, perspectives and narrative voices (including metafictional commentaries). Textual coherence is secured via narrative strategies (including typography, generational paradigms, repetition, parallelism, intertextuality, and tropological patterning) that render the novel readable and present experience as ordered in a time of cultural flux and personal crisis.

Alasdair Gray

The Fiction of Communion


Gavin Miller

Alasdair Gray’s writing, and in particular his great novel Lanark: A Life in Four Books (1981), is often read as a paradigm of postmodern practice. This study challenges that view by presenting an analysis that is at once more conventional and more strongly radical. By reading Gray in his cultural and intellectual context, and by placing him within the tradition of a Scottish history of ideas that has been largely neglected in contemporary critical writing, Gavin Miller re-opens contact between this highly individualistic artist and those Scottish and European philosophers and psychologists who helped shape his literary vision of personal and national identity. Scottish social anthropology and psychiatry (including the work of W. Robertson Smith, J.G. Frazer and R.D. Laing) can be seen as formative influences on Gray’s anti-essentialist vision of Scotland as a mosaic of communities, and of our social need for recognition, acknowledgement and the common life.

"My Rebellious and Imperfect Eye"

Observing Geoffrey Grigson


Edited by C.C. Barfoot and R.M. Healey

“My Rebellious and Imperfect Eye”: Observing Geoffrey Grigson acknowledges and celebrates Geoffrey Grigson (1905-1985) as an all-round man, as a distinctive lyrical poet, as the exact observer of nature and of men, in the past and in the present, as a pioneering literary critic and art critic, as an unrivalled anthologist, as a ground-breaking editor, as a broadcaster, as a botanist - the list could be extended. In an unsurpassed number of diverse areas of artistic and natural culture, Grigson passionately communicated all he experienced and felt to as wide an audience as possible. Therefore, as the centenary of his birth comes in view, it seems singularly appropriate to celebrate Geoffrey Grigson's unique contribution to the twentieth-century cultural scene. In a writing career spanning nearly sixty years, he was unmatched by any of his contemporaries for a range which reaches from the edges of journalism into and beyond the academic world.
In prose and verse, the nineteen contributors to this volume, amongst them some of the most distinguished names in contemporary English letters, would hardly claim to have covered every aspect of Grigson's genius, but they do manage to touch upon most of the territory he illuminated. The volume contains a full bibliography of Grigson's work and a number of his drawings.