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In: Poetica

Abstract

The essay addresses the problem of time in lyric poetry and proposes a narrative understanding of the lyric genre. I argue that temporality belongs to the lyric discourse as part of its transtextual structure as a result of the lyric’s organization in the book form. This transtextual structure gives lyric poetry a narrative framework and a specific type of temporality, the diachronic time, which contrasts with the temporality of the single poem, the synchronic time. By focusing on the relationships between opener and closure poems, I propose a narrative-diachronic model in order to reposition the temporality of lyric poetry in the book form. By dealing with Paul Celan’s second book of poems, Von Schwelle zu Schwelle (1955), the analysis will finally show how diachronic time corresponds to the narrative structure of the collection, and how time and the narrative are deeply linked in lyric poetry by means of the book form.

In: Poetica

Abstract

This paper examines narrative representations of authors and authorship in English-language fiction from the 1890s to the 1920s. From Henry James onwards, such narratives revise the basic, and by that time exhausted, plot elements of the novel of literary apprenticeship as featured in Dickens’s David Copperfield and Thackeray’s Pendennis, among many others. Instead of focusing on ideas of development and professional formation, they depict authors subdued by a sense of shrinking opportunities and lack of movement. Aging or dying authors in James and Mann, young but soon disappointed authors in Joyce, Forster, or Green: wherever we look, we find an ambivalence of promise that often ends in stagnation, failure, even death. In this context, my paper presents a close reading of three less frequently discussed modernist variations on the literary bildungsroman: Arthur Machen’s The Hill of Dreams (1897/1907), E.M. Forster’s The Longest Journey (1907), and Henry Green’s Blindness (1926).

In: Poetica
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In: Poetica
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Abstract

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the protagonist frequently and eloquently refers to his own taciturnity and to the fundamental insights into the ways of the world that this silence conceals from his interlocutors. It is partly due to this emphasis on a pivotal inaccessibilty that the play has provoked numerous philosophical interpretations. For example, Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy and Walter Benjamin in Origin of the German Trauerspiel have dealt with Hamlet’s loquacious refusal to communicate, and their interpretations, while problematic in some respects, can contribute to a better understanding of the drama, especially when they are placed in relation to one another. While Nietzsche’s somewhat forced interpretation traces Hamlet’s silence to the Dionysian experience of ancient tragedy, Benjamin’s counter-interpretation construes this silence as the expression of a specifically Protestant, melancholic conception of history, as well as of its dialectical overcoming. Although Origin of the German Trauerspiel convincingly demonstrates that Hamlet transforms his relationship to society and its language in the course of the play by reinterpreting the contingency of historical events as manifestations of eternal providence, a closer reading of the drama shows that this reinterpretation is not, as Benjamin claims, unfolding a genuinely Christian dialectic, at the endpoint of which stands the blissful silence of assured salvation. Rather, this reinterpretation appears as the expression of an amor fati that in many respects prefigures Nietzsche’s categorical affirmation of blind necessity; Hamlet’s interpretation of the course of the world as a circulus vitiosus resembles the idea of the eternal return, embracing this figure of thought in its most hopeless and most seminal form: as an apotheosis of endless annihilation.

In: Poetica
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Abstract

Guigo II is commonly known and praised among specialists of Western mysticism for his Scala claustralium, a work that presents a spiritual program for cloistered monks. His Meditations, on the other hand, have usually been relegated to the margin of attention. The First Meditation, in particular, is generally regarded as a minor piece. The paper argues, however, that a new approach can make better sense of the First Meditation, while also enabling us to recognize its specific function and value. Seen from this new perspective, Guigo’s purpose with the text is to train and exercise his readers’ minds according to the spiritual program laid out in the Scala. The paper shows that the First Meditation realizes that goal, surprisingly, by having the same essential features that Umberto Eco found in the ‘open works’ of the Western avant-garde.

In: Poetica

Abstract

Taking its cue from the critical treatment given to unreliable narration by Wayne C. Booth and his early followers, and in contrast to the claims often made in the field of authentication theory, this paper seeks to join the debate on “third-person” narrative unreliability by outlining an inclusive approach to this phenomenon in which the “person” parameter need not be a determining factor. To theorize and illustrate this approach, a methodological context is first developed by juxtaposing Genette’s revisionist stance on voice and perception with Booth’s 1961 dismissal of the vocal issue and his controversial assimilation of tellers and observers. Then Ryan’s dissenting views are addressed by identifying common ground between her idea of the impersonal narrator and the principles of inclusivity which precisely rest on the impersonating potential of that figure. Finally the inclusive conception of unreliability is shown at work in three Jamesian tales – “The Aspern Papers” (1888), “The Liar” (1888), and “The Beast in the Jungle” (1903) – whose different vocal options do not seem to immunize their narrators against charges of untrustworthiness.

In: Poetica
In: Poetica
In: Poetica

Abstract

Scholars hold that performance art wants to seize the moment, cannot be preserved or put on display, and necessarily remains outside the cultural archive. In contrast, this essay stresses the medial and material aspect of performance art and highlights the temporal opposition of presence and permanence as a feature of written documents. The linguistic origins of performance art and its temporal nature are a key to understanding Wolf Vostell’s artworks. His relationship to poetry and language has only recently received attention. Vostell’s drafts, notes, invitations, manifestos, score cards, correspondences, and books form the basis of a vast collection that create permanence beyond the fleetingness of the happening. Central to the following investigation is the temporal flux of Vostell’s concept of “dé-coll/age,” the way in which language informs his aesthetics, and the role that the museum plays in his artistic considerations.

In: Poetica