The highly original satire about Oedipa Maas, a woman who finds herself enmeshed in a worldwide conspiracy, meets some extremely interesting characters and attains a not inconsiderable amount of self-knowledge.
Human beings have believed in conspiracies presumably as long as there have been groups of at least three people in which one was convinced that the other two were plotting against him or her. In that sense one might look back as far as Eve and the serpent to find the world’s first conspiracy. Whereas recent generations have tended to find their conspiracies in politics and government, the past often sought its mysteries in religious cults or associations. In ancient Rome, for example, the senate tried to prohibit the cult of Isis lest its euphoric excesses undermine public morality and political stability. And during the Middle Ages, many rulers feared such powerful and mysterious religious orders as the Knights Templar. Fascination with the arcane is a driving force in this comprehensive survey of conspiracy fiction. Theodore Ziolkowski traces the evolution of cults, orders, lodges, secret societies, and conspiracies through various literary manifestations—drama, romance, epic, novel, opera—down to the thrillers of the twenty-first century. Arguing that the lure of the arcane throughout the ages has remained a constant factor of human fascination, Ziolkowski demonstrates that the content of conspiracy has shifted from religion by way of philosophy and social theory to politics. In the process, he reveals, the underlying mythic pattern was gradually co-opted for the subversive ends of conspiracy. Cults and Conspiracies considers Euripides’s Bacchae, Andreae’s Chymical Wedding, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, among other seminal works. Mimicking the genre’s quest-driven narrative arc, the reader searches for the significance of conspiracy fiction and is rewarded with the author’s cogent reflections in the final chapter. After much investigation, Ziolkowski reinforces Umberto Eco’s notion that the most powerful secret, the magnetic center of conspiracy fiction, is in fact "a secret without content."
Fascination with the arcane is a driving force in this comprehensive survey of conspiracy fiction. Theodore Ziolkowski traces the evolution of cults, orders, lodges, secret societies, and conspiracies through various literary manifestations—drama, romance, epic, novel, opera—down to the thrillers of the twenty-first century. Lure of the Arcane considers Euripides’s Bacchae, Andreae’s Chymical Wedding, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, among other seminal works. Mimicking the genre’s quest-driven narrative arc, the reader searches for the significance of conspiracy fiction and is rewarded with the author’s cogent reflections in the final chapter. After much investigation, Ziolkowski reinforces Umberto Eco’s notion that the most powerful secret, the magnetic center of conspiracy fiction, is in fact "a secret without content."
How have twentieth-century writers used techniques in fiction to communicate the human experience of time? Dramatizing Time in Twentieth-Century Fiction explores this question by analyzing major narratives of the last century that demonstrate how time becomes variously manifested to reflect and illuminate its operation in our lives. Offering close readings of both modernist and non-modernist writers such as Wodehouse, Stein, Lewis, Joyce, Hemingway, Faulkner, Borges, and Nabokov, the author shares and unifies the belief, as set forth by the distinguished philosopher Paul Ricoeur, that narratives rather than philosophy best help us understand time. They create and communicate its meanings through dramatizations in language and the reconfiguration of temporal experience. This book explores the various responses of artistic imaginations to the mysteries of time and the needs of temporal organization in modern fiction. It is therefore an important reference for anyone with an interest in twentieth-century literature and the philosophy of time.
Author: J. Kerry Grant
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Release Date: 2011-03-15
Genre: Literary Criticism
Contains more than 500 notes keyed to the "2006 Harper Perennial Modern Classics", the "1986 Harper Perennial Library", and the 1967 Bantam editions. This edition adds quotations and paraphrases drawn from criticism published since 1994. It includes more than fifty annotations that have been added and eighty annotations that have been expanded.
Publisher: Stanford University
Release Date: 2011
This project explores how changing models of literary production are blurring or erasing the divisions between authors, critics and readers. Millions of cultural consumers are participating in previously closed literary conversations and expressing forms of mass distinction through their purchases and reviews of books. These traces of popular reading choices constitute a fresh perspective on elusive audience reactions to literature and reveal evolving networks of conversation. Employing network analysis methodologies and 'distant reading' of book reviews, recommendations and other digital traces of cultural distinction, I develop a new model for literary culture in America today. Through readings of the fiction and reception of Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, David Foster Wallace and Junot Díaz, this model outlines the fundamental requirements for contemporary literary fame. My introduction outlines methodological tools I developed and situates them in the critical traditions of literary reception, cultural sociology and media theory before describing the digital ecologies that have emerged around literature online and their value. Chapter 1 explores the nature of literary fame through a case study of Thomas Pynchon, whose carefully guarded anonymity and ironic distance from capitalism are reflected in the networks his readers construct around his long, challenging books. In stark contrast, Toni Morrison, the subject of Chapter 2, has succeeded critically and commercially, tirelessly seeking out readers to form literary communities around her writing, most prominently through her collaboration with Oprah's Book Club. Chapter 3 considers David Foster Wallace and Junot Díaz and sets out a model for contemporary literary culture: a reading society that demands new forms of authorial reflexivity to mirror the collaborative, iterative nature of digital literary conversations. I conclude with a brief consideration of the exciting prospects and challenges for fiction in a world that reads more than ever but is growing disaffected with the material realities of literary production.
In the 1950s prolific U.S. fiction writer Stephen Marlowe became a cult author for lovers of noir fiction mainly for his Drumbeat series, which present his best-known character: private eye Chester Drum. Yet, the academia never paid much attention to his multifaceted, extensive oeuvre . Chaos and Madness is the first volume offering a critical approach to MarloweOCOs riveting historical novels. Their relevance in the field of literary studies derives from their well-wrought structure and captivating prose as well as from their portrayal of remote European history OCo a distinctive feature that makes Marlowe a unique figure in the North American trend of historiographic metafiction. Chaos and Madness provides a comprehensive narratological and ideological analysis of three novels in which Marlowe deals with Spanish history. Preceded by an in-depth if reader-friendly theoretical chapter that traces the evolution of the historical novel as a genre, Calvo-PascualOCOs meticulous investigation into MarloweOCOs fiction proves compelling for anyone interested in contemporary American fiction, in Spanish history, or in the interaction of metafiction and the scientific discourse of chaos theory."
Author: Antonio Barrenechea
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Release Date: 2016-11-15
Genre: Literary Criticism
This original contribution to hemispheric American literary studies comprises readings of three important novels from Mexico, Canada, and the United States: Carlos Fuentes’s Terra Nostra, Quebecois writer Jacques Poulin’s Volkswagen Blues, and Native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead. The encyclopedic novel has particular generic characteristics that serve these writers as a vehicle for the reincorporation of hemispheric histories. Starting with an examination of Moby-Dick as precursor, Barrenechea shows how this narrative genre allows Fuentes, Poulin, and Silko to reflect the interconnected world of today, as well as to dramatize indigenous and colonial values in their narratives. His close attention to written documents, visual representations, and oral traditions in these encyclopedic novels sheds light on their comparative cultural relations and the New World from pole to pole. This study amplifies the scope of “America” across cultures and languages, time and tradition.
Author: Mark Greif
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2015-01-18
Genre: Literary Criticism
In a midcentury American cultural episode forgotten today, intellectuals of all schools shared a belief that human nature was under threat. The immediate result was a glut of dense, abstract books on the "nature of man." But the dawning "age of the crisis of man," as Mark Greif calls it, was far more than a historical curiosity. In this ambitious intellectual and literary history, Greif recovers this lost line of thought to show how it influenced society, politics, and culture before, during, and long after World War II. During the 1930s and 1940s, fears of the barbarization of humanity energized New York intellectuals, Chicago protoconservatives, European Jewish émigrés, and native-born bohemians to seek "re-enlightenment," a new philosophical account of human nature and history. After the war this effort diffused, leading to a rebirth of modern human rights and a new power for the literary arts. Critics' predictions of a "death of the novel" challenged writers to invest bloodless questions of human nature with flesh and detail. Hemingway, Faulkner, and Richard Wright wrote flawed novels of abstract man. Succeeding them, Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, Flannery O'Connor, and Thomas Pynchon constituted a new guard who tested philosophical questions against social realities—race, religious faith, and the rise of technology—that kept difference and diversity alive. By the 1960s, the idea of "universal man" gave way to moral antihumanism, as new sensibilities and social movements transformed what had come before. Greif's reframing of a foundational debate takes us beyond old antagonisms into a new future, and gives a prehistory to the fractures of our own era.
The dictionary lists each character from Pynchon's fiction up through his most recent novel, including the most likely etymology of each name. In addition, the thorough introduction examines Pynchon's character names as a part of his greater literary strategy, establishing a set of categories through which most of the names may be understood.
“Later than usual one summer morning in 1984 . . .” On California’s fog-hung North Coast, the enchanted redwood groves of Vineland County harbor a wild assortment of sixties survivors and refugees from the “Nixonian Reaction,” still struggling with the consequences of their past lives. Aging hippie freak Zoyd Wheeler is revving up for his annual act of televised insanity when news reaches that his old nemesis, sinister federal agent Brock Vond, has come storming into Vineland at the head of a heavily armed Justice Department strike force. Zoyd instantly disappears underground, but not before dispatching his teenage daughter Prairie on a dark odyssey into her secret, unspeakable past. . . . Freely combining disparate elements from American popular culture—spy thrillers, ninja potboilers, TV soap operas, sci-fi fantasies—Vineland emerges as what Salman Rushdie has called in The New York Times Book Review “that rarest of birds: a major political novel about what America has been doing to itself, to its children, all these many years.”
Author: Janice Carlisle
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Release Date: 2010-08-01
Genre: Literary Criticism
Narrative and Culture draws together fourteen essays in which leading scholars discuss narrative texts and practices in a variety of media and genres, subjecting them to sustained cultural analysis. The essays cross national borders and historical periods as often and as easily as they traverse disciplinary boundaries, and they examine canonical fiction as well as postmodern media—photography, film, television. The primary subject of these pieces, notes Janice Carlisle, is “the relation between the telling of tales and the engagement of their tellers and listeners in the practices of specific societies.” Contributors: Nina Auerbach, Thomas B. Byers, Jay Clayton, Marcel Cornis-Pope, Mary Lou Emery, Colleen Kennedy, Vera Mark, Caroline McCracken-Flesher, Paul Morrison, Ingeborg Majer O'Sickey, John Carlos Rowe, Daniel R. Schwarz, Carol Siegel, Felipe Smith