Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Literature
Readings from Humanism to Postmodernism
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.
A Commentated Bilingual Edition
Tieck’s precocious invention of ironic-fantastic comedy quickly found resonance among fellow romantics, who worked under the parallel influence of the Goethean revolution in drama exhibited in Faust. Yet Tieck’s play Puss-in-Boots (1797) had to wait a full century before its impulses were transmitted, by Pirandello, to modern anti-theater and theater of the absurd.
The Tieckian direction anticipates the metaphysical strains both of symbolist and of existentialist theater and the beneficent absurdism of Wilder and Ionesco. As the boundary between stage and audience completely dissolves in Puss-in-Boots, we experience the transcendent delight of pure theater and unsettling doubts about our own roles on the world’s stage.
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.
Comparative Literature/World Literature
Gerald Gillespie and Eva Kushner
Vingt-cinq savants, originaires des cinq continents, apportent dans leurs exposés plusieurs réponses à ce problème et montrent que le comparatisme a engendré un vif dialogue sur le plan mondial.