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.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: THE JOYS OF VISION AND REWARDS OF RETROSPECTION
Chapter 1: The Dangerous but Joyful Venture of Cultural Rebirth from Rabelais to Joyce
Chapter 2: Looking Through Windows of Time: Illustrative Moments of Vision in Literature since the Renaissance
Chapter 3: The World as Music: Variations on a Cosmological Theme
Chapter 4: Traveling into the Abyss
Chapter 5: Some Shape Shiftings of the Divine Feminine in Nineteenth Century Literature
Chapter 6: Peripheral Echoes: “Old” And “New” Worlds as Reciprocal Literary Mirrorings
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