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Showing papers in "Partial Answers in 2017"


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Thomas Pynchon’s interest in music is audibly reflected in the rich intertextual environments of his works such as Gravity’s Rainbow , a novel which includes numerous allusions to musical pieces, descriptions of performances, and song lyrics. The latter stand out from prose narrative as they introduce new diegetic dimensions to the novel by offering playful commentary on its plot and characters. The present study examines the novel’s acoustic background, pointing to the formal structure of songs and its role in locating singing human voices in opposition to noises emitted by technological devices such as V2 rockets. A classification scheme shows how Pynchon’s formal experimentation juxtaposes written and oral variants of language, thus connecting songs to one of the novel’s thematic centers — problematics of order. This function of songs is examined in an episode of Vaslav Tchitcherine’s mission of promoting literacy among oral tribes of Kazakhstan, that serves as a commentary on the conventional character of writing systems and their ability to transform the poetic quality of language into a systematic structure.

27 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Audionarratology is enmeshed in the current trend toward media-consciousness in narratological debates. This article connect audionarratological concerns with the (trans- or inter)medial extensions of narratology offered by scholars such as Marie-Laure Ryan and Werner Wolf. It focuses on Richard Powers’s earliest musical novel, The Gold Bug Variations (1991), and his to-date latest novel Orfeo (2014), zooming in on their musical macrostructures, the musical forms and techniques that inform the narrative arrangement of the texts. Having positioned the narrative analysis of macrostructural musical elements within the research scope of a media-conscious audionarratology and having explored The Gold Bug Variations and Orfeo for such musical macrostructures, I reflect on the functions of imitating music in this way.

7 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This essay explores the philosophical foundations of the concept of literary humanism: the idea, roughly, that works of literary fiction offer a distinct form of epistemic insight into social and cultural reality. We develop our account by way of a critique of Richard Gaskin's recent defense of literary humanism, according to which literary works achieve their cognitive significance by referring to linguistically structured propositions that provide the link to truth and reality. Against this, we urge a broadly Wittgensteinian model of literary humanism that rejects the metaphysics of the proposition and in its place casts literature as having special ability to reveal the irreducibly cultural grounds of meaning. We conclude with a reading of W. B. Yeats' "A Prayer for my Daughter," which illustrates the claim central to a Wittgensteinian model of literary humanism: in certain works of literature we gain insight into the nature of those sense-bestowing cultural practices in virtue of which we make our world meaningful.

7 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky's texts of the 1920s offer compelling examples of the tensions endemic to aesthetic modernism and inherent in Jewish nationalist discourse during the interwar period. This essay discusses Jabotinsky's Atlas (1925), his unproduced film script A Galilean Romance (1924–1926), and his anthemic poem "Two Banks Has the Jordan" (1929). While the ideological value of the works examined is self-evident, the artistic features of Jabotinsky's work have received scant attention. This essay reveals Jabotinsky's indebtedness to themes and techniques identified with early European literary modernisms and their associated socio-political contexts. The article concludes that scholars can profitably locate Jabotinsky's creative output of the 1920s within the nexus of early aesthetic modernism and collectivist nationalism.

7 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: In line with the strong emphasis on visuality in the wake of the “visual turn” in literary and cultural studies, graphic novel adaptations of literary texts have recently been the objects of scholarly study and narratological theory building. Much less attention, if any, has been accorded to radio play adaptations of novels like Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy . An analysis of radio play adaptations acquires a special significance in the case of this highly enigmatic work, which makes a seriously playful use of postmodern narrative strategies. It is perhaps above all this feature which made the adaptation of the novel’s first instalment, City of Glass , into a graphic novel by Paul Karasik and David Mazucchelli so successful. While the graphic novel visualizes characteristic features of its mother text, this paper explores the different modes of narrative sound in three German radio play adaptations of Auster’s novel. Alfred Behrens’ Stadt aus Glas , Katharina Bihler’s Schlagschatten , and Norbert Schaeffer’s Hinter verschlossenen Turen employ narrative devices like voices in both German and English, the evocation of city soundscapes, the narrative uses of music as well as issues of the simultaneity and/or difference of story and discourse time. The narrative auralization of Auster’s novels in the radio plays under discussion can be shown to foreground non-visual aspects of the pre-texts and to add further dimensions for interpretation that underline the usefulness of audionarratological analysis for adaptation studies.

6 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This introduction reflects on the links between sound, voices, music, and literature. It also delineates the main tenets of audionarratology, a branch of postclassical narratology which focuses on the interfaces between sound and narrative. The forum explores presentations of sounds, silence, and music in fiction and explores voices and soundscapes in audio drama.

5 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Alasdair Gray’s novel Lanark: A Life in Four Books (1981) eludes generic categorization by crossing the boundaries between dystopian fiction, fantasy novel, life writing, and fiction marked by magic realism. In postmodern fashion, it plays with spatiotemporal frameworks and narrative order, shifts narrative voices, and perspectives and uses a multiplicity of presentational modes including dialogue and scholarly text commentary with encyclopedic annotations. In its “Epilogue,” the novel features metalepsis when it introduces the author, who talks to his protagonist about his work. The question arises how the novel’s radio play adaptation, first broadcast by the BBC on 1 November 2014, translates this playfulness into its own semiotic system. This paper particularly focuses on the narratological category of “voice” and explores what happens when narrators’ and characters’ voices are actualized in radio drama, how the radio play uses voice-over narration, voice qualities and the doubling of parts to create a recognizable as well as surprising aural storyworld. It also analyzes how sound techniques and music are employed to create narrative structures. Because of their medial instantaneousness and evanescence, radio plays arguably have to rely on disambiguation to make themselves accessible to a listening audience. However, as this paper shows, they also have a range of radiophonic techniques at their disposal to create narrativity on their own terms.

4 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This paper discusses the reinvention of the humanist ideas and values in the Soviet post-World War II and post-Stalinist culture (the 1950s and the1960s) with the help of Renaissance plots and images in Soviet semi-official art, the main examples being Pavel Antokolsky's poem Hieronymus Bosch (1957), the Strugatsky brothers' novel Hard to Be a God (1963), and Grigory Kozintsev's films based on Shakespeare's Hamlet (1964) and King Lear (1970), as well as David Samoilov's poem Bertold Schwarz: A Monologue , set in the late Middle Ages. The paper isolates an aesthetic movement that developed in the Soviet culture of those decades; I propose to call this movement "posttraumatic humanism." It was based on the new aesthetic idiom of "gloomy Renaissance," including images of conflagration, ruins, violence. The works of this movement did not use the Aesopian language — or, at least, did not use it as a primary or only tool. Rather, it involves a covert comparison of the Soviet present with the European pre-Enlightenment past and aesthetical valorization and sublimation of 20th-century catastrophic experience. Images of "gloomy Renaissance" conveyed the erosion the Soviet belief in progress and moral modernization as inevitable consequences of Bolsheviks' revolution. One of the earliest mature works of posttraumatic humanism in Soviet culture was Vasily Grossman's essay The Sistine Madonna (1955). Alexei German Sr.'s film Hard to Be a God (2013) can be regarded as the concluding and summarizing work in this movement.

4 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This essay argues that the linguistic turn in literary theory, often seen as just a declarative and, in the view of some, catastrophic veering into deconstruction, actually had three 20th-century phases. The first was associated with a reaction to Romantic linguistic excess and dominated the early part of the century, manifesting itself in the work and theories of Eliot, Hofmannsthal, and the logical positivists. The second phase was centered on semantics and was above all a reaction to what was seen as the misuse of language by midcentury totalitarian regimes in Europe. The New Criticism dominant in America during this era can be seen as part of this paradigm and therefore less oriented toward an aesthetic formalism than a defensive inoculation against linguistic abuse. The third phase is dominated by deconstruction and its promulgation of — following the earlier example of Roman Jakobson — a language radically independent of anterior reference and signification. Yet, paradoxically, the era, which was the ultimate unmooring of language from prudence and caution, also saw the elevation of a linguistic approach to all the disciplines, prompting speculation that perhaps the rhetoric of transgression concealed a reality of linguistic plenitude. In the 21st century, the epistemological primacy of language, though, seems to have yielded to empiricism and speculative ontology. Yet despite the new appeal of what Best and Marcus call "surface reading," and though the linguistic turn cannot return as it was in the 20th century, its multiple legacies are important.

3 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Contrary to widespread celebrations of the Western sixties as the antiauthoritarian heyday of “shining youthfulness” and “revolutionary lyricism” in contemporary cultures, Milan Kundera’s novel Život je jinde ( Life Is Elsewhere ), written shortly after the Soviet invasions of Czechoslovakia in 1968, exposes the narcissistic underside of this subversive epoch through a highly subjective juxtaposition of the two major historical events that happened in the same year in Eastern and Western Europe — Prague Spring and French May ’68. While Kudera’s idiosyncratic historical perspective, which perceived the Prague 1968 as more important than the May uprisings in Paris, may infuriate many Western readers, I argue that the book Život je jinde does not entertain a totally dismissive, unsympathetic attitude towards the revolutionary traditions of modern Europe at large. Relatively ignored by the critical world ever since its publication, Life Is Elsewhere not only outlines some radically alternative visions of the European sixties but also provides innovative ways to problematize the epistemological and ideological confines implicitly attached to the currently reigning liberal-democratic capitalism.

3 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This essay examines the protagonist of Nabokov’s 1930 novel The Defense as a character who has much in common with Gogol’s Bashmachkin from “The Overcoat” (1842). Both seek refuge from “real” life in their respective art: calligraphy in Bashmachkin’s case, and chess in Luzhin’s. The two protagonists’ fascination with abstract patterns and disinterest in “real” life results in a transfer of their sexuality from individuals to personified objects, or objectified people: Bashmachkin turns his overcoat into his “wife”; Luzhin gets married but turns his wife into an “overcoat” whose function it is to protect him from the chills of life. There is no “defense” against the games life that plays with the characters, however, and, like Akaky Akakievich, Luzhin destroys himself in his very quest for a protective wrap.

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: In many of his novels, Romain Gary depicts modes of survival during WWII. Yet survival is not restricted to times of war: in times of peace too, one must use whatever means at one’s disposal in order to survive life’s many challenges. Humor, cynicism, madness, revenge, benevolence, murder, as well as marriage, child bearing, and writing are presented as plausible mechanisms of survival. The common denominator for these methods can be termed “bricolage”: an imperfect yet possible reliance on random components, as well as on hope and imagination, to make existence liveable. Underlying the survival inventory deployed by Gary, are inescapable moral issues. None of us are exempt, and our collective consciousness forces us to realize that each of us is responsible for every kind of manifestation of human behavior. Particularly problematic is the relationship between morality and the human craving for perfection. One of the means to reach perfection is, presumably, art, made with all materials of life, the unpalatable along with the beautiful. For Gary, as long as one keeps in mind that artistic perfection is no more attainable than ridding oneself of one’s collective imperfections, the artist’s work and imagination are endowed with moral agency.

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: The article argues that Philip Roth's Kepesh saga — The Breast (1972), The Professor of Desire (1997), and The Dying Animal (2001) — dramatically morphs, with regard to sexuality and imaginative flight, Sartre's account, in Being and Nothingness ( L'etre et le neant , 1943), of the origins and possibilities of consciousness and their relation to desire. Indeed, desire, the dominant theme of Roth's trilogy, corresponds to Sartrian outlooks on transcendent possibility or existential freedom. In Being and Nothingness , moreover, Roth appears to have located, identified with, and artistically transformed outlooks on consciousness and artistic creativity. Roth's inspiration for imagining a character who exists as a breast, sans body, may also have emerged from Sartre's treatise, the outlooks of which allow for better appreciation of the concerns and fictive possibilities suggested by The Professor of Desire and The Dying Animal .

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: A recent development in literature’s engagement with music involves the role played by emerging technologies and the way they not only transmit musical content to the listener, but very strongly condition the form the music takes and the way we listen. While music is still often considered ephemeral and transcendent, there is a new recognition of it as an object and a commodity, whether an LP record or a file to be downloaded from itunes. Technologies coexist; records are now collected and venerated in a nostalgic mode while music moves into the digital sphere of downloads and participatory cultures of online sharing. Contemporary literature can tell us not only about the idealization of music as a non-referential and thus “higher” art, but about the way music is mediated by technologies. The present paper focuses on two recent musical novels that foreground the mass media of musical expression, Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity (1995) and Arthur Phillips’s The Song Is You (2009). Both celebrate songs — incorporated as records in the former and digital files on an ipod in the latter — as symbols of taste, carriers of memory, means of establishing interpersonal connections, and media that condition our thinking. Songs also exist in relation to others, demonstrated by the protagonist’s fixation on lists modeled on radio’s top-forty rankings in High Fidelity and on juxtaposition of songs on the ipod’s shuffle mode in The Song Is You . The comparison of these novels in terms of their focus on different musical technologies leads to an exploration of modes of listening as characters experience their lives through the lens of popular music.

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Poe's adherence to a strict aesthetic formalism used to be problematic for studies of the relationship between his work and its American context; the methodology of New Historicism has helped to surmount this problem but sometimes with excessive emphasis on socio-historical contexts. This essay examines critical practices at work in the interpretation of Poe's canonical piece "The Man of the Crowd" in light of the recent debates in literary studies around the problem of context and contextualization in general and the "hegemony" of new historicism in particular. It then suggests an alternative method of reading literary texts and their contexts — one based on Reinhart Koselleck's history of concepts. It offers an analysis of "The Man of the Crowd" as an illustration of this method.

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This essay traces the history of the hot-air balloon as a figure for formalist approaches to reading poetry, and finds the most compelling and enigmatic investigation of the trope in Anna Letitia Barbauld's mock-epic poem of 1797, "Washing Day." Anticipating Nicholson Baker, Maureen McLane, and Helen Vendler's modern uses of the hot-air balloon as a symbol for formalist literary analysis, Barbauld concludes her poem with the figure of the Montgolfier balloon as a "bubble" that is equated with the production of verse, a simile rife with anxiety about the relationship of poetics to the domestic labor of washing, but also to the manifold discourses implied by the Romantic-era balloon, such as political invasion, femininity, cosmopolitanism, and even madness. What emerges at the end of Barbauld's poem, however, is not the dismissal of eighteenth-century women's work (whether laundry or poetry) but a transhistorical model of poetic form as a technology to be operated by a close reader, an idea that subverts Cleanth Brooks' metaphor of the "well wrought urn" through Margaret Cohen's account of "craft." Resisting Brooks' notion that the poetic vessel is antiquarian, inert, and stable, Barbauld's airborne vessel, like Cohen's ships, is dynamic, labor-intensive, and buffeted by external currents. The transhistorical reach of the trope of the balloon through literary criticism that this paper traces brings into focus the reader's relation to poetic form in a new way, to ask what treating formalism as technology might mean for the conception of close reading as labor.

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: The essay focuses on Jonas B. Phillips (1805–1869), a largely forgotten author, poet, and playwright who was one of the first Jews to enjoy literary success in early 19th-century America. Phillips won his fame mainly by writing popular stage melodramas that did not openly explore Jewish themes, causing him — like other Jewish writers of his time and literary interests — to be excluded from histories of Jewish American writing, since his work has been seen by scholars as neither "Jewish" nor "literary" enough. The essay argues that Phillips' play The Evil Eye (1831), an adaptation of a short story by Mary Shelley, gives covert expression to the challenges of early Jewish American citizenship by reworking the image of the Wandering Jew, a mythic figure that had recently been revitalized in Romantic and Gothic literature. Though he is never identified openly with the Wandering Jew, the hero of Shelley's story and of Phillips' play bears striking similarities to the famous wanderer, and in Phillips' adaptation he comes to represent the menacing foreigner who is miraculously recognized as kin and welcomed back into the family. Offering an allegory for the Jews' homecoming in the newly established United States, the play also reflects lingering fear of anti-Semitism in its efforts to tone down the wanderer's Gothic "otherness." A later, uncompleted attempt by Phillips to make a villainous Jew into the hero of a new melodrama points to his lingering interest in Gothic iterations of the Jew, while also suggesting the danger that such demonized figures presented to Jewish authors in the young Republic.

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Austrian neo-avant-garde authors excelled in literary forms that foregrounded the acoustic quality of voices. Their concern was not to establish the voice as a disembodied medium of pure emotionality; rather, they experimented with the corporeal materiality and technical mediality of voice and speech, and explored the ethics and aesthetics of non-sovereign, “impure” voices. After some introductory remarks on the work of Ernst Jandl, this essay argues this stance in regard to selected texts by the Viennese author Friederike Mayrocker. In a striking awareness of the cultural history of the voice, her texts present playful parodic rewritings of traditional vocal pathos genres such as the lyrical elegy, the opera aria, and the echolalic lament. They demonstrate the appealing quality of heteronomous, dispossessed speaking or singing voices, an appeal that is well worth listening to.

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: While many pre-modern narratives conventionally feature active protagonists, the transition into modernity has seen an increase in inactivity as a literary motif. The prominent European examples of this trend, such as Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain , Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities , or the plays of Samuel Beckett, however, exclude speaking from the list of negated activities, instead depicting voluble characters. This paper proposes that silent inactivity may be an Eastern (and Eastern European) notion, and offers two exemplary readings of this motif in Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov and Ha Jin’s Waiting . Drawing from the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Roland Barthes, it argues that silence, despite denoting an absence of signs, is meaningful and hermeneutically versatile. A distinction is made between communicative silence and natural silence , the first of which signifies the absence of speech in an interactive situation whereas the latter signifies verbal silence notwithstanding context and — importantly — includes natural soundscapes (as caused by weather, animals or touching objects). Through a number of close readings, natural silence is shown to function as the semantic core of the inactivity motif in that it is a central part of the strategy to attain peace, repose, and contentment. In addition, in both novels the desire for a peaceful way of life dominates the soundscape of romantic relationships. Although the protagonists fall in love with passionate women, they ultimately reject them due to the noise and upheaval they cause. The paper concludes that in connection to the motif of inactivity the notion of silent companionship outweighs that of love (associated with speech). This indicates the existence of culture-specific sound preferences which represent a field of possible future study within audionarratology.

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Memory is one of the most discussed topics in both fictional narratives and the literary and critical theory of the last decades. The reasons for the fascination of many contemporary writers with memory are almost as variable as the work of memory itself: the intricate relations between memory and history (as well as historical writing); memory as a crucial element for the development, the retention, and the effacement of self-identity; and memory as a fundamental factor in the stream of consciousness. Perhaps more emphatically than any other cognitive process, memory is evidence of the construction (rather than the reflection) of reality by the human mind. Yugin Teo’s book Kazuo Ishiguro and Memory chimes in with this cultural and literary interest in memory. Teo’s approach to Ishiguro’s fictional narratives is basically thematic. Accordingly, his argument is structured on three major (but not necessarily sequential) phases in memory work: forgetting, remembering, and, eventually, a release of the unfortunate consequences of memory. He emphasizes the interrelations between Ishiguro’s insights concerning memory in his fictional writings and the philosophical ideas of Paul Ricoeur, especially in Memory, History, Forgetting (2004) and The Course of Recognition (2005). Teo’s interdisciplinary approach also extends to film: he compares the (limitations of) representation of trauma and loss in Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour (1959) with Ishiguro’s novel A Pale View of Hills (1982). A major topic of the first part of the book is narrative unreliability, which is linked to the question of the very (un)trustworthiness of memory. Teo claims that the unreliable narrators of some of Ishiguro’s fictional narratives struggle to reconcile past memories with present circumstances and discover that the complicated process of remembering and retelling events leads to a less accurate and less objective version of the past. The distortion of memory results in part from self-deception (see also Marcus 2006). Following Kathleen Wall (1994), Teo claims that no narrator — or any human being — is entirely reliable, coherent, and rational. Self-reflexive readers will recognize not only the narrator’s flawed memory but also the limitations of their own memory, which is impaired by biases, mistakes, and delusions. They will, in turn, realize that they are neither superior to the unreliable narrator nor less susceptible to memory flaws. Such a recognition bridges the cognitive and moral gap between reader and text and causes the reader to empathize with the emotions and experiences of the narrator. However, Teo does not seem to differentiate the reader’s inaccurate memory of the story told by Ishiguro’s narrator — an inaccuracy that is the product of a perplexed and perplexing rhetoric designed by the implied author — from the biased memory any reader (or person) has of events and experiences from his or her own life.

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: close readers of Finnegans Wake and its translations have to cope with a paradox indicated in the title of O’Neill’s study: if they engage in a structuralist quest for ultimate signification in terms of differentiating binary oppositions, they are doomed to make “impossible” choices. Even if not explicitly stated, Impossible Joyce thus turns out to be a metaanalysis of the linguistic sign, in Joyce’s use of language and its translatability alike. What at first sight seems to be a rather old-fashioned New-Critical study turns out to be a close reading which elucidates multiple layers of undiscovered meanings in full awareness of the poststructuralist limitations of its heuristic framework. Thus, Impossible Joyce: Finnegans Wakes is not only a text-based analysis whose scholarly excellence may be contrasted with outcomes of current trends of compilations of positivist contexts; it is a study which fuses some of the best insights of old-school and cutting-edge criticism.