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Cross-Cultural Encounters between the Mediterranean and the English-Speaking Worlds

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Edited By Christine Reynier

The Mediterranean world has long had strong cultural links to Great Britain as well as to the United States. Through the analysis of artistic objects and critical writings that crystallise this encounter, the essays in this volume demonstrate the variety and complexity of the connections between two geographical zones and two or more cultures.
Mediterranean cultures are shown to haunt American and British culture and artistic productions. The relation between British and American literature and art on the one hand, and Mediterranean arts on the other goes beyond the mere inscription of British and American culture in a Mediterranean tradition. British and American culture and art come out as unearthing a wide variety of Mediterranean artistic forms, renewing and transforming them.
This collection shows how lively the encounter between the Mediterranean and the English-Speaking worlds still is. It highlights how much English as well as American culture and art owe today to the Mediterranean ones; how, mainly in the fields of literature and art, the two civilisations have never discontinued the dialogue they adumbrated centuries ago.

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JEAN-MICHEL GANTEAU - Mediterranean Englishness: Another Progress of Romance - 117

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JEAN-MICHEL GANTEAU Mediterranean Englishness: Another Progress of Romance The whispering ebb, the salty scorching tang of the Mediterranean crop up, ceaselessly, in the English canon. The common Catholic culture of the Middle Ages, the wealth of classical allusions and re-writings to be found in the texts of the Renaissance and following centuries, the Ro- mantic aspirations towards more openness that lead to the continent and to exotic shores all suggest that, whether thematised or performed, the presence of the Mediterranean is a latent subtext. Milton’s ‘L’Allegro’ and its companion piece ‘Il Penseroso’, for instance, signal their helio- tropic inspiration linguistically from the title onwards, through the weav- ing of classical allusions, and through the creation of a pastoral land- scape that, characteristically English as it may be, tends to favour the shades of Mediterranean groves in which the poet finds refuge from the sweltering sky, as in the following passage from ‘Il Penseroso’: And when the sun begins to fling His flaring beams, me, Goddess, bring To arched walks of twilight groves And shadows brown that Sylvan loves Of pine or monumental oak […]. (Milton 123, ll. 131-135) In the preceding lines the pastoral landscape characterised by its mild climate,58 that paradigm of Englishness, comes to harbour another locus classicus, that of the pastoral of a Mediterranean inspiration, thus open- ing itself to an Other of the official culture, both projecting into it and performing a measure of faithfulness to a classical past. In some of the most representative texts...

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