Literary Criticism

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.
This authoritative study explores the scientific and mathematical cultural milieu that patterns much of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges's narrative design. Although criticism of Borges's fiction and essays has long emphasized philosophical traditions, Merrell expands the context of this interrogation of traditions by revealing how early twentieth-century and contemporary mathematics and physics also participated in a similar exploration
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.