Rewriting the Hero and the Quest
Myth and Monomyth in "Captain Corelli’s Mandolin" by Louis de Bernières
Table Of Contents
- About the author(s)/editor(s)
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- 1. Theoretical Perspectives and Their Applicability in the Approach to Louis de Bernières
- 1.1 Defining Myth
- 1.2 Carl Jung
- 1.3 Joseph Campbell
- 1.4 Claude Lévi-Strauss
- 1.5 Roland Barthes
- 2. Practical Argumentation
- 2.1 Rethinking the Monomyth of the Hero and the Quest as a Critical Concern
- 2.2 The Paradigm of the Monomyth of the Hero and the Quest in Joseph Campbell’s Conception
- 2.3 Reimagining the Monomyth of the Hero and the Quest in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
- 2.3.1 Mandras
- 2.3.2 Captain Antonio Corelli
- 2.3.3 Pelagia
- References and Further Reading
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Nowadays, myth enjoys an enhanced attention on the part of comparative literature studies, and is re-evaluated according to new gains and experiences in the various areas of literary science. In the wider context of world and comparative literature, the element related to the aesthetic value of myth has penetrated irrevocably into the literary tradition, representing at the same time a literary fact that fulfils the intellectual needs of modern human beings, in spite of the complex new cultural alternatives, by drawing a strong sense of interest from the reading public as well as critics and exegetes.
The main goal of our study is the examination – through the lens of an appropriate comparative methodology – of the artistic means and procedures used by Louis de Bernières in his novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to represent, in literary terms, concerns and characters of the ancient myth and monomyth as literary archetypes in their modern reception. The emphasis is on the manner in which the monomyth of the hero and the quest has been subject to essential thematic changes with the purpose of adapting them to a specific artistic view, which is that of Louis de Bernières as a particular writer, and a specific target audience living in a different – which is postmodern – period and cultural background.
In the studies on the reappearance of myth in literature, it has been affirmed that ancient myths “renew themselves as they are transmitted from one literary version to another” (Kushner, 2001, p. 300), revealing a
paradox of permanence and transformation. The haunting question that arises for the critic and the historian as well as for the theoretician of literature and those who study the anthropological, psychological, and sociological aspects of imagination is that of the resilience of myths. How is it that these ancient narratives – very often Greek myths in the case of the literatures of the West – survive and revive with everrenewed meaning for writers, readers, and spectators of subsequent periods? What is the source of their power of resurgence? (Kushner, 2001, p. 300)
The answer, given by the same critic, is that
the permanence of myths as they manifest themselves in modern literature lies not in fixity of narrative detail, nor in an ontological unity of the human mind as enshrined in the world of myths, nor again in the preservation of a classical flavour, but in the very dynamics of myth itself. (Kushner, 2001, p. 303)
The monomyth of the hero and the quest, like the ethno-religious myth, the literary myth or the literalised myth, reveals permanence, literary continuity, and ← 7 | 8 → flexibility as a literary pattern open to innovation and creative originality. The monomyth of the hero and the quest, like other types of myth, is also a well-structured system preserving the pattern of journey of the hero and some essential symbolic situations unaltered regardless of the time and space of action.
At the same time, the monomyth, as a dynamic system of symbols and archetypes, perpetually renews itself. The framework of the monomyth of the hero and the quest provides the opportunity for flexibility by presenting the exterior journey performed by the protagonist as mainly an inner journey with its own symbolical significance of the search for the self and the accomplishment of one’s true goal in life. This demonstrates once again the truth of the statement that myth survives and continues its development, and remains representative and initiatory for the individual and community within literary discourse.
The first chapter of our book represents the theoretical and methodological basis of our study, which is in line with the most important and accessible bibliography and contributions by specialists in the field, which are fully accepted internationally, namely those by Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Roland Barthes.
The second chapter represents the practical side of the research, which includes the approach to the text, where we have used principles of textual interpretation applied in the areas of literary theory and criticism, comparative literature, literary history, intertextuality, archetypal criticism, and thematology. In particular, the book targets those readers who are familiar with goals, methods and styles of myth criticism and archetypal critical discourse, and especially with their current postmodern and postmodernist perspectives.
Although Louis de Bernières is a famous and important contemporary novelist, and his work Captain Corelli’s Mandolin has been translated and sold all over the world as a best-seller, there are no academic studies – neither books nor articles – that focus methodologically and theoretically on it. We attempt to partially overcome this handicap by our book in which we have focused on various thematic and structural aspects which have been practically ignored so far by this line of criticism. We have also progressed to certain interpretative modalities of analysis of our own and the results of the research could become starting points for a number of other studies in the domain of Comparative Literature and that of English literature.
The book meets the requirements of a teaching aid and regards the needs of the students in their English and Comparative Literature classes, introducing them to the areas of myth and contemporary fiction. Also, the book is useful to experts in literary studies, or to a more general reader whose knowledge of certain aspects of myth and literature might be enriched by the present book.
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- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2014 (June)
- Sagen monomyth Helden Mythen
- Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 120 pp.