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."
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.
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: Robert Holton
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Release Date: 1994
Genre: Literary Criticism
Jarring Witnesses begins by surveying the problem of point of view as a formal, cognitive and cultural determinant in narrative historiography, particularly in the way certain dominant forms of 'legitimate' history have necessitated the suppresson of the voices of 'jarring witnesses'. The theory is explored in relation to Pierre Bourdieu's theories of doxa and heterodoxy, Bakhtin's concept of heteroglossia, and postmodernism. With this theoretical framework established, a number of modern novels concerned with history are then explored. Chapters devoted to Conrad's Nostromo, Ford's Parade's End, and Faulkner's Absolom, Absolom! examine the ultimate orthodox historiographical points of view in these novels, while a chapter on the fiction of African-American women engages the problem of historiography from the margins of the dominant culture. In the final chapter, Pynchon's V is the focus of a discussion of postmodernism and historical discourse. This is an original, interdisciplinary work which engages issues of contemporaray academic debate and illustrates its arguments with examples from well-known texts. The book is relevant to current debates in the problems of narrative representation both in fiction and the writing of history, while addressing questions being raised in literary studies concerning the representation of cultural difference and the varieties of social and discursive power.
Author: Gale Research Company
Release Date: 2007
Genre: Literature, Modern
Excerpts from criticism of the works of novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers and other creative writers who lived between 1900 and 1960, from the first published critical appraisals to current evaluations.
The work of Samuel Weber has greatly influenced writers and thinkers across the arts and humanities: including literary, critical, and cultural theory; media, communication, theater, and cultural studies; new media and technology; psychoanalysis; and philosophy. His remarkable and inaugural texts have been especially important to the deconstructive tradition, given his early recognition of the importance of the writings of Jacques Derrida. Taught by Theodor W. Adorno and Peter Szondi, he is equally at home in the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, in the German literary tradition, or in psychoanalysis. Weber played an important role in the process of translation, publication, and interpretation that brought theoryto prominence in the United States. His work continues to reactivate and transform the legacy bequeathed to us by figures such as Kant, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Heidegger, de Man, and Derrida, not least by exposing the field of philosophy to contemporary questions in the arenas of media, technology, politics, and culture.This volume brings together a number of eminent scholars seeking to assess the intellectual impact of Weber's large body of writings. It also contains two new and previously unpublished essays by Weber himself: 'God Bless America!'and 'Going Along for the Ride: Violence and Gesture-Agamben Reading Benjamin Reading Kafka Reading Cervantes.'