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Utopian Visions and Revisions

Or the Uses of Ideal Worlds

Artur Blaim

The book focuses on different uses of the concepts of utopia, dystopia, and anti-utopia. The author analyses literature, cinema, and rock music, as well as scientific and legal motifs in utopian fiction. He also considers the functions of Jewish characters in early modern utopias and looks at the utopian aspects of scientific claims of literary and cultural theories. Utopian models are also applied to the practice of literature (socialist realism) and current socio-political affairs. Among the texts and films discussed are "Utopia", "New Atlantis", "Gulliver’s Travels", "Memoirs of Signor Gaudentio di Lucca", "Nineteen Eighty-Four", "A Minor Apocalypse", "Lord of the Flies", and "Even Dwarfs Started Small".

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18. Scientific Literary Studies. A Polish Utopian Tale


18. Scientific Literary Studies. A Polish Utopian Tale

Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain

That could hold you dear lady from going insane

That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain

Of your useless and pointless knowledge.

(Bob Dylan, “Tombstone Blues.” Highway 61 Revisited. Columbia Records, 1965.)

The idea of scientific literary studies seems to be of local interest restricted to Central European countries. The activity described in Eastern and Central Europe as nauka o literaturze (science of literature), wiedza o literaturze (literary knowledge), literaturwissenschaft or literaturovedenie corresponds fairly precisely to what is usually called literary criticism in English and critique in French speaking countries. Nevertheless, the self-descriptions of literary science and literary criticism seem to denote completely different domains of human thought.

Although the term itself dates back to 1842 when it appeared in the title of Rosenkranz’s Die Deutsche Literaturwissenschaft 1836–1842, it gained wider currency only at the end of the nineteenth century in connection with the methodological opposition towards the positivist history of literature, which, incidentally, also claimed the scientific status for itself (Markiewicz 1976). It reached Russia in mid-twenties when it was first used by Marxist critics who wanted to stress the scientific nature of their methodology. In Poland, the term, translated as wiedza o literaturze (literary knowledge) was used by Juliusz Kleiner, a literary historian, and Roman Ingarden, whereas the term nauka...

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