Literary Criticism

Philippe Codde provides a comparative cultural analysis of the unprecedented success of the Jewish novel in the postwar United States by situating the process and event in the context of three closely-related American cultural movements: the popularity in the US of French philosophical and literary existentialism, the increasing visibility of the Holocaust in US-American life, and the advent of radical theology. Codde argues that the literary repertoire of the postwar Jewish novel consists of an amalgam of these cultural elements that were making their mark in the political, religious, and philosophical systems of the United States at the time, and that this explains, in part, the Jewish novel’s sweeping success in the American literary system.
What kind of man was George Orwell, whose Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, and many essays are known to millions, but whose character is an enigma? Who was this person who wrote under a pseudonym and wanted no biographies of him written? Orwell was an intellectual who continually damned intellectuals. He was a leading political writer despite his disgust with politics and an ardent believer in socialism despite his contempt for most socialists. He deplored violence, yet fought in the Spanish Civil War. In chronically poor health, he performed extraordinary physical labor. Richard J. Voorhees shows how Orwell rebelled against contemporary politics, yet had too much sense of responsibility to be anarchistic. He portrays Orwell's horror of modern tyrants, together with his unstinting use of his abilities to fight them. He describes Orwell's dedication to socialism and his revulsion from some of its by-products. From this skillful study of a controversial figure there emerges a picture of a crusader for democracy, a shrewdly independent thinker who deals with the major issues of our time.
Quest for Redemption: Central European Jewish Thought in Joseph Roth's Works by Rares Piloiu fills an important gap in Roth scholarship, placing Roth’s major works of fiction for the first time in the context of a generational interest in religious redemption among the Jewish intellectuals of Central Europe. In it, Piloiu argues that Roth’s challenging, often contradictory and ambivalent literary output is the result of an attempt to recast moral, political, and historical realities of an empirically observable world in a new, religiously transfigured reality through the medium of literature. This diegetic recasting of phenomenological encounters with the real is an expression of Roth’s belief that, since the self and the world are in a continuing state of crisis, issuing from their separation in modernity, a restoration of their unity is necessary to redeem the historical existence of individuals and communities alike. Piloiu notes, however, that Roth’s enterprise in this is not unique to his work, but rather is shared by an entire generation of Central European Jewish intellectuals. This generation, disillusioned by modernity’s excessive secularism, rationalism, and nationalism, sought a radical solution in the revival of mystical religious traditions—above all, in the Judaic idea of messianic redemption. Their use of the Chasidic notion of redemption was highly original in that it stripped the notion of its original theological meaning and applied it to the secular experience of reality.  As a result, Roth’s Quest for Redemption is a quest for a salvation of the individual not outside, but within, history.
Theory of Mind is what enables us to “put ourselves in another’s shoes.” It is mindreading, empathy, creative imagination of another’s perspective: in short, it is simultaneously a highly sophisticated ability and a very basic necessity for human communication. Theory of Mind is central to such commercial endeavors as market research and product development, but it is also just as important in maintaining human relations over a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, it is a critical tool in reading and understanding literature, which abounds with characters, situations, and “other people’s shoes.” Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly apparent that reading literature also hones these critical mindreading skills. Theory of Mind and Literature is a collection of nineteen essays by prominent scholars (linguists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers) working in the cutting-edge field of cognitive literary studies, which explores how we use Theory of Mind in reading and understanding literature.   Table of Contents   1: Theory of Mind Now and Then: Evolutionary and Historical Perspectives Theory of Mind and Theory of Minds in Literature by Keith Oatley Social Minds in Little Dorrit by Alan PalmerThe Way We Imagine by Mark TurnerTheory of Mind and Fictions of Embodied Transparency by Lisa Zunshine 2: Mind Reading and Literary Characterization Theory of the Murderous Mind: Understanding the Emotional Intensity of  John Doyle’s Interpretation of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd by Diana CalderazzoDistraction as Liveliness of Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Characterization in Jane Austen by Natalie PhillipsSancho Panza’s Theory of Mind by Howard MancingIs Perceval Autistic?: Theory of Mind in the Conte del Graal by Paula Leverage 3: Theory of Mind and Literary / Linguistic Structure Whose Mind’s Eye? Free Indirect Discourse and the Covert Narrator in Marlene Streeruwitz’s Nachwelt by Jennifer Marston WilliamAttractors, Trajectors, and Agents in Racine’s “Récit de Théramène” by Allen G. WoodThe Importance of Deixis and Attributive Style for the Study of  Theory of Mind: The Example of William Faulkner’s Disturbed Characters by Ineke Bockting 4: Alternate States of Mind Alternative Theory of Mind for Artificial Brains: A Logical Approach to Interpreting Alien Minds by Orley K. MarronReading Phantom Minds: Marie Darrieussecq’s Naissance des fantômes and Ghosts’ Body Language by Mikko KeskinenTheory of Mind and Metamorphoses in Dreams: Jekyll & Hyde, and The Metamorphosis by Richard Schweickert and Zhuangzhuang XiMother/Daughter Mind Reading and Ghostly Intervention in Toni Morrison’s Beloved by Klarina Priborkin 5: Theoretical, Philosophical, Political Approaches Changing Minds: Theory of Mind and Propaganda in Egon Erwin Kisch’s Asien gründlich verändert by Seth KnoxFunctional Brain Imaging and the Problem of Other Minds by Dan Lloyd, Vince Calhoun, Godfrey Pearlson, and Robert AsturHow is it Possible to Have Empathy? Four Models by Fritz BreithauptTheory of Mind and the Conscience in El casamiento engañoso by José Barroso Castro  
In the eighteenth century, a type of novel flourished showing naive outsiders who come to Europe and are amazed at what they see. Foreign travelers first set foot in Europe in the sixteenth century and are memorably present in Montaigne's essay Des Cannibales. The genre was made popular in France by Montesquieu's novel Lettres persanes. Considering the "stranger" as a figure of ambiguity, Sylvie Romanowski explains why the genre was so useful to the Enlightenment. The question of why showing ambiguous stranger is important in that period is addressed in the book's introduction by setting the Enlightenment in the historical context of the seventeenth century. Romanowski then examines Montaigne's Des Cannibales, showing how these first "outsiders" relate to their eighteenth-century successors. She next considers Montesquieu's Lettres persanes in its entirety, studying the voices of the men, the women, and the eunuchs. She also studies other examples of the genre. The author closes with a discussion of the philosophical tension, ongoing in Western thought, between skeptics and those who, refusing skepticism, seek firm foundations for knowledge, this draws connections between the sixteenth century, and our "postmodern" era.
Michel Tournier, member of the Acadimie Goncourt and one of the most influential French writers of the post-Nouveau roman period, stresses the crucial interrelationship that exists between myth and literature. It is the writer's duty, he states, to keep myths alive by continually renewing and transforming them, re-releasing them in an ever changing social context. Written in French, this study considers the Tournier novel as the story of a voyage in a literal and figurative sense. Jonathan Krell uses the term "elementary" to characterize this voyage through the universe of Tournier's imagination, which is dominated by the four primordial element&--earth, water, air, and fire. Building on a foundation of Western culture's rudimentary myths, such as the ogre, twinship, and the Biblical stories of creation and the magi, Tournier performs a radical and disturbing transformation. Professor Krell shows how the transformation is made.
Elsa Morante has long been recognized internationally as one of the most significant and innovative writers of twentieth-century Italy; nonetheless, there has to date been no full-length study in English dedicated to her work. This collection of twelve essays offers the first comprehensive evaluation of Morante to appear outside Italy, while taking into account modern critical and theoretical developments.
Utopian Dreams, Apocalyptic Nightmares traces the history of utopian representations of the Americas, first on the part of the colonizers, who idealized the New World as an earthly paradise, and later by Latin American modernizing elites, who imagined Western industrialization, cosmopolitanism and consumption as a utopian dream for their independent societies. Carlos Fuentes, Homero Aridjis, Carmen Boullosa, and Alejandro Morales utilize the literary genre of dystopian science fiction to elaborate on how globalization has resulted in the alienation of indigenous peoples and the deterioration of the ecology. This book concludes that Mexican and Chicano perspectives on the past and the future of their societies constitute a key site for the analysis of the problems of underdevelopment, social injustice, and ecological decay that plague today's world. Whereas utopian discourse was once used to justify colonization, Mexican and Chicano writers now deploy dystopian rhetoric to interrogate projects of modernization, contributing to the current debate on the global expansion of capitalism. The narratives coincide in expressing confidence in the ability of Latin American and U.S. Latino popular sectors to claim a decisive role in the implementation of enhanced measures to guarantee an ecologically sound, ethnically diverse, and just society for the future of the Americas.
Through the analysis of six Spanish novels, one for each decade from the 1940s through the 1990s, Rodríguez proposes a new concept of the novel of feminine development and emphasizes the importance of the voicing of women's sentiments, passions, desires, and opinions that have not been expressed before in the literature of Spain. The study begins with Nada by Carmen Laforet, and continues with La playa de los locos  by Elena Soriano, La plaça del Diamant by Mercè Rodoreda, two stories from Te dejo el mar by Carme Riera, Los perros de Hécate by Carmen Gómez Ojea, and Efectos secundarios by Luisa Etxenike.
Spain’s Golden Age represents a transition from a largely oral tradition to a world in which information and culture were transmitted by way of written or printed documents. Contemporary theory has done much to elucidate the cultural and aesthetic implications of this transition. Utilizing concepts derived from such theorists as Derrida, Ong, and Austin, this study examines how writing and inscription are foregrounded and problematized in five Golden Age dramas: El villano en su rincón, by Lope de Vega; La estrella de Sevilla, of disputed authorship; El ejemplo mayor de la desdicha, by Mira de Amescua; Cautela contra cautela, by Tirso de Molina; and La cisma de Inglaterra, by Calderón de la Barca.
In the late 1970s, Brazil was experiencing the return to democracy through a gradual political opening and the re-birth of its civil society. Writing Identity examines the intricate connections between artistic production and political action. It centers on the politics of the black movement and the literary production of a Sao Paulo-based group of Afro-Brazilian writers, the Quilombhoje. Using Pierre Bourdieu's theory of the field of cultural production, the manuscript explores the relationship between black writers and the Brazilian dominant canon, studying the reception and criticism of contemporary Afro-Brazilian literature. After the 1940s, the Brazilian literary field underwent several transformations. Literary criticism's displacement from the newspapers to the universities placed a growing emphasis on aesthetics and style. Academic critics denounced the focus on a political and racial agenda as major weaknesses of Afro-Brazilian writing, and stressed, the need for aesthetic experimentation within the literary field. Writing Identity investigates how Afro-Brazilian writers maintained strong connections to the black movement in Brazil, and yet sought to fuse a social and racial agenda with more sophisticated literary practices. As active militants in the black movement, Quilombhoje authors strove to strengthen a collective sense of black identity for Afro-Brazilians.