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Theory into Poetry

New Approaches to the Lyric

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Edited by Eva Müller-Zettelmann and Margarete Rubik

At the beginning of the 21st century, there is still no generally accepted comprehensive definition of the lyric or differentiated modern toolkit for its analysis. The reception of poetry is largely characterised either by an empathetic identification of critics with the lyric persona or by exclusive interest in formal patterning.
The present volume seeks to remedy this deficit. All the contributors ‘theorise’ the lyric to overcome the impasse of an impressionistic and narrowly formalistic critical debate on the genre. Their papers focus on a variety of different questions: the problem of establishing a framework for definition and classification; the search for dynamic and potent critical approaches; investigations of poetry's cultural performance and its fundamental relevance for the construction of group cohesion.
The essays collected in this volume offer a consciously polyphonic range of theories and interpretations, suggesting to the reader a variety of theoretical frameworks and practical illustrations of how a discussion of poetry may be firmly grounded in modern literary theory.

Yves Bonnefoy essayiste

Modernité et présence

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Daniel Acke

Yves Bonnefoy passe pour un des poètes français majeurs de l'après-guerre. Si sa poésie a suscité de nombreux commentaires, on s'est moins intéressé jusqu'à présent à son oeuvre critique et à sa contribution aux débats contemporains sur le destin de la modernité. L'étude de Daniel Acke montre que la mise en question du langage ou de la mimésis est au coeur des essais de Bonnefoy sur Baudelaire, Poussin, Giacometti et d'autres artistes; elle éclaire les implications esthétiques de la conception de l'auteur, ses présupposés philosophiques et ses rapports à la postmodernité.
Représentation indirecte du monde, le langage envahit l'ensemble des productions humaines, des différents systèmes de signes à l'action, en passant par la libido. Il incarne l'attitude prométhéenne de notre civilisation, visant la maîtrise du monde et d'autrui. L'art et la littérature exemplifient cette attitude réductrice. L'homme est privé de l'Un ou de la présence, qui assurait le contact immédiat entre les êtres et les choses. Seule l'existence individuelle marquée par la contingence peut assurer l'accès à la présence. Cette démarche suppose la rencontre avec autrui et l'intuition des correspondances profondes qui unissent les choses de la terre. Ainsi, l'être authentique est le résultat d'un échange symbolique, au sens étymologique du terme, en deçà de toute mimésis.
Aujourd'hui, cependant, la présence exige une approche patiente et indirecte, dont le langage poétique a malgré tout l'apanage. La dialectique de Bonnefoy lui permet d'acquiescer au constat postmoderne de la faillite de nos systèmes de signes, tout en continuant à adhérer à l'idée romantique d'un Sens réalisé par l'art.

Hendrik Smeeks

The Mighty Kingdom of Krinke Kesmes

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Edited by David Fausett

This is the first English edition of a novel that is little known outside Dutch literary circles, but is an interesting example of popular fiction and radical thought about science and society in its day - not only in the Netherlands, but throughout Western Europe. It formed a bridge between the rationalist seventeenth century and the Age of Enlightenment, and was also a lively story in itself. It was rather less than imaginary, moreover, being linked to seventeenth to seventeenth-century Dutch activities in Australia and the first real knowledge about the legendary southern continent. Among the novels based on such exploits, this was one of the most remarkable. The dominance of classics like Defoe's Robinson Crusoe has tended to obscure many such works, but they can be better appreciated today as a result of changing views about literary genres. Defoe, in particular, built on an earlier tradition in which Krinke Kesmes played a vital role.
The text is translated from the original edition, and the author's handwritten additions to it are included or discussed in the introduction. A glossary explaining obscure terms and a full bibliography are given along with the introduction, which outlines the background and significance of the work. This is by David Fausett, an authority on early travel fiction and, in particular, that relating to exploration in the austral regions.

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Jeff Love

The Overcoming of History in “War and Peace” marks a radical departure from the critical tradition dominated by Sir Isaiah Berlin’s view that the novel is deeply divided against itself, a majestically flawed contest of brilliant art and clumsy thought. To the contrary, Jeff Love argues that the apparently divided nature of the text, its multi-leveled negotiation between different kinds of representation, expresses the rich variety of the novel’s very deliberate striving to capture the fluidity of change and becoming in the fixed forms of language. The inevitable failure of this striving, revealing the irreducible conflict between infinite desire and finite capacity, is at once the source of new beginnings and the repetition of old ones, a wellspring of continually renewed promises to achieve a synoptic vision of the whole that the novel cannot fulfill. This repetitive struggle between essentially comic and tragic conceptions of human action, far from being a pervasive flaw in the texture of the novel, in fact constitutes its dynamic center and principal trope as well as the productive origin of the unusual features that distinguish it as an uncommonly bold narrative experiment.

Material Difference

Modernism and the Allegories of Discourse

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William D. Melaney

Material Difference: Modernism and the Allegories of Discourse argues that deconstruction can be employed in conjunction with the historically-oriented approach to cultural experience that is favored by Critical Theory. The two discourses that inform this comparative study situate Modernism between evolving traditions that begin with Hegel and Nietzsche, leading on to Adorno’s commitment to philosophical aesthetics and Derrida’s concern for writing ( écriture). Interrelated discussions of eight major authors, working in four different languages, are presented to show how allegorical Modernism foreshadows the possibility of cultural history. Joyce, Kafka, Malraux, Rilke, and Stevens are among the authors discussed in this book. The notion of material difference allows literature to be redefined in semiotic terms and demonstrates how the allegorical imagination mediates between art and time.

Literature along the Lines of Flight

D.H. Lawrence’s Later Novels and Critical Theory

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Hidenaga Arai

This book presents new readings of D.H. Lawrence’s later novels from the perspective of established critical theory and contemporary thought: a specific critical theory or critical perspective is selected and applied to each novel in order to present particular interpretations of each. Although remaining faithful to one’s personal desires without being unduly concerned with the outside world is considered a Lawrentian virtue, I would like to show another Lawrence who was sensitive enough to the outside world and to the social discourses of his time to employ elements of them in his novels, although subtly, and with critical shifts and displacements. Lawrence is a writer who continually draws lines of flight to escape from capitalist societies that ascribe essential value and power to money.

Difference Unbound

The Rise of Pluralism in Literature and Criticism. 2nd Edition

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Stamos Metzidakis

This is the first book to examine the precise relationship between pluralism and the production of Western literature and criticism from the eighteenth century to the present. It underscores the historical rather than exclusively epistemological reasons behind what is here called “the rise of literary pluralism.” This rise entails, on the one hand, the modern day phenomenon of an ever-increasing number of readings of both canonical and contemporary works of verbal art; and, on the other, our ever-growing body of literature written with an eye towards different types of characters, situations, forms and styles. Reviewing a wide range of authors and thinkers—from German, French and English Romantics to Anglo-American and European poststructuralist theorists—it shows how and why the current literary emphasis on difference derives from an unquestioned allegiance to the notion of cultural pluralism. While never denying the value of the latter, it seeks instead to analyze the oftentimes unquestioned implications of this historically-situated belief within the specific realm of literary studies.

Subject Matters

Subject and Self in French Literature from Descartes to the present

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Edited by Paul Gifford and Johnnie Gration

What can we currently make of ‘the subject'? Under the sway of structuralism and poststructuralism, critical thinking took a distinctly negative turn, effectively disqualifying any form of subjectivity as a reference point in discussions of textual or literary meaning. Since the mid-1970s, however, throughout the human sciences, human agency has been restored as both a methodological principle and an ethical value: a phenomenon broadly designated as ‘the return of the subject'. Yet the returning subject bears the traces of its problematization...
The present collection of essays explores the ways in which the subject now ‘matters', both in principle and in the variety of critical approaches in authorizes. Essays, which are both literary and theoretical in character, cover authors, texts and issues in French literature from Descartes to the present. A wide range of types of writing is examined, from established forms such as the novel to relatively marginal and generically unsystematized discursive practices such as automatic writing and the ‘récit de rêve'.
Though it shuns ‘closure' in a matter which remains ultimately elusive, this book offers some account of the types of answer which remain open and of those we have learned to leave behind.

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Jan IJ. van der Meer

The present book for the first time links the thoughts of modern Western sociologists of literature with an overall description of the literary activities, attitudes, and views in late eighteenth-century Poland. Inspired by the studies of Bourdieu on literary fields and, more particular, S.J. Schmidt's study of the history of the rise and development of the social system 'literature' in Germany in the eighteenth-century (cf. Schmidt 1989), the author tries to establish whether Poland witnessed the rise of a more complex and (relatively) autonomous literary field or, as Schmidt calls it, a functionally differentiated literary system in the age of the reign of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski (1764-1795).
Functionally differentiated literary systems - systems in which an increased number of literary agents and institutions produce, sell, buy, and criticize literary works according to capitalist principles - are the literary systems of today. As most scholars believe, their origins are to be found in most European nations in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Did such a modern literary system, albeit with certain limitations, rise in Poland in the years of the rule of Stanislaw A. Poniatowski? - this is the question the author of the present volume will attempt to answer. This volume is of interest to theoreticians and empirical researchers approaching literature from a sociological point of view, historians, and, of course, slavists interested in eighteenth-century literary developments in Poland.

New Essays in Deixis

Discourse, Narrative, Literature

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Edited by Keith Green

This volume presents some new work on deixis and, in particular, deixis in narrative and literature. Deixis has long held fascination for both philosophers and linguists alike, and increasingly it is seen as a fundamental element of discourse in works of a more literary-linguistic or stylistic nature. The aim of this book has been to gather and present material on deixis which is often referred to but has hitherto not received the space it warrants. The collection will be of interest to anyone working in linguistics and literary studies. There are essays on deictic processing, non-egocentricity, deictic worlds and the deictic categories. The more literary material focuses on modernist aesthetics, the poetic deictic persona, pronouns and narrative voice, and the problematic deixis of Keats's Odes.