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Echoland

Readings from Humanism to Postmodernism

Gerald Gillespie

This book follows several major European literary «echoes» still reverberating since the mysterious emergence of such archetypal figures as Faust, Hamlet, Quixote, and Don Juan alongside lingering ancient and medieval protagonists in the Renaissance.
Four centuries of attempts to redefine «modern» identity are traced against the evolution of a new genre of totalizing encyclopaedic literature, the «humoristic» tradition which re-weaves the positive and negative strands of the European, and today also New World, «grand narrative.»
The book’s method, inspired by Joyce, is to «listen» to recurrent motifs in the cultural flow from Humanism to Postmodernism for clues to an identity transcending the personal.
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Gerald Gillespie

This book examines how a long line of imaginative writers, starting from Rabelais and continuing over Cervantes and Sterne down to such modernists as Proust, Mann, Joyce, and Barth, has reaffirmed the picture of an enduring Western civilization despite repeated crises and transformations. The humanist capacity to recapture a sense of European greatness as exhibited in Antiquity was paralleled by and continued in the guise of newer vernacular works, achievements regarded as vital forms of a shared cultural rebirth.  This was amplified most notably in the tradition of the ironic encyclopedic novel which surveyed the state of successive phases of culture. The evolving heritage and revitalization of the arts constituted main subject matters in the series of major self-conscious epochal movements, the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Modernism, which Postmodernism reflexively now struggles to supersede.  

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Edited by Jean Bessière and Gerald Gillespie

This book revisits the notion of World Literature and its applications in Comparative Literature. It suggests the notion not as a means to sift out international paradigms for reading literatures, but as a set of guidelines for the construction of interlocking and/or reciprocally illuminating multilingual literary clusters. These ensembles are of very diverse shapes: the world, a region, a country, a language block, a network of cross-cultural «interferences» – while the so-called minor literatures invite to question the use of these ensembles. Within this frame, fourteen essays respond to the basic paradox of World Literature: how may specific methodological and critical outlooks allow expression of the universal? The answers to this question can be arranged in three groups: 1. Recognition of the need to break loose from European or Western critical perspectives; 2. Presentation of macro- and microcosmic dimensions connectedness and its processes; 3. Definitions of the methodological efforts and hermeneutic orientations to be applied.