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Academia in Fact and Fiction

Edited By Ludmiła Gruszewska-Blaim and Merritt Moseley

«Academia in Fact and Fiction» comprises twenty-eight essays on the relationship(s) between the university and the practice of belles lettres. The collection includes studies of the teaching of fiction by university professors; the fit – or misfit – between the creative writer and the academy; the depiction of the university, its staff and atmosphere, in literature, cinema and new media; and the varieties of academic fiction ranging from the ludic and satirical to the tragic. Most of the works addressed in the volume are British or American, modern or contemporary, but the historical range extends to Victorian and Shakespearian works, and the geographical range includes novels and poems from Russia, New Zealand, and Nigeria. Among the genres discussed are, in addition to the «literary novel», plays, detective fiction, fanfiction, utopias, mysteries and alternative history. The contributors are international and cosmopolitan.

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‘Mortal Combat with the Forces of Evil and Sin’ on the Campus: Functions of Puritan Intertext in Francine Prose’s Blue Angel (Natalia Vysotska (Kiev National Linguistic University))


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Natalia Vysotska

‘Mortal Combat with the Forces of Evil and Sin’ on the Campus: Functions of Puritan Intertext in Francine Prose’s Blue Angel

Synopsis: In her novel Blue Angel (2000) set in a small New England college Francine Prose involves her readers in the ingenious postmodern play with preceding cultural texts, including Puritan intertext central for the novel’s cluster of meanings. Arguably, it unfolds primarily along the following trajectories: socio-political (the code of political correctness/witch-hunt), cultural/psychological (the code of [unsatisfied] desire), and literary/epistemological (the code “fiction-reality”). Based on the ideas expressed by Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Catherine Belsey, Sacvan Bercovitch and others, the paper seeks to explore the implications of Puritan “text” in Prose’s university novel. It is argued that ‘Puritanism’ operates there as a metaphor for certain features in American intellectual and moral life of the past decades that the writer views as utterly negative, due to their perilous impact on the educational environment.

Critical responses to the eleventh novel by the acclaimed author Francine Prose, Blue Angel (2000), abound in allusions to America’s Pilgrim Fathers. One review mentions the“Puritanical mood on campus today” (Rosenthal “Blue Angel”), another speaks of “a new strain of sexual Puritanism” (Tobias), the third remarks that “reading Blue Angel you would think we were living in a Puritanical world” (Rosenfeld “Review”), while Richard Price’s dust jacket praise for the novel refers to American culture as “increasingly Puritanical.” The novel itself declares unequivocally: “Puritanism’s...

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