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Living Streams: Continuity and Change from Rabelais to Joyce


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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Living Streams contains many dozens of references to early modern and modern classical works in what eventually became named the “Western” tradition. For the most part, if these predate the twentieth century, as classics in the repertory here under examination they and their authors are cited by a traditional short title and initial date of appearance (sometimes approximate), but are not listed with full bibliographic data; so, likewise, many effectively classical works of the twentieth century are cited in a conventional short form. Exceptions are made selectively for the reader’s convenience, mainly in checking longer quotations.

The chapters of Living Streams are modified versions based on studies which have appeared in the following journals and conference proceedings: Métissages: Actes du XXXIIe Congrès de la SFLGC (2004); Elogio da Lucidez (2004); Comparative Literature (2006); Canadian Review of Comparative Literature (2008); The Comparatist (2009); Papers on Joyce (2010); Literatur als Wagnis (2013); Neohelicon (2015); Faultlines of Modernity (2018); Literature and Mysticism (2018).

Titles and quotations are usually given initially in the original language and an English version is added in parentheses if useful, but sometimes a non-English citation will appear first in an English equivalent. Titles and phrasings from ancient languages well-established in the English-language tradition will be left in their conventional English form. The lower-case spelling modern indicates the indefinite cultural era extending roughly from the 1400s to the present, or commencing at a later juncture according to many adherents of the Enlightenment...

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