In Debating Rhetorical Narratology:On the Synthetic, Mimetic, and Thematic Aspects of Narrative, Matthew Clark and James Phelan provide a model of lively, sharp, and good-natured scholarly exchange. Clark proposes “friendly amendments” to Phelan’s theorizing of the synthetic, mimetic, and thematic aspects of narrative, and Phelan responds, often by explaining why he finds Clark’s amendments less-than-friendly. Clark rounds off the debate by offering a brief rejoinder. Clark and Phelan consistently ground their theoretical arguments in their analyses of particular narratives, drawing on a corpus that ranges from Homer’s Iliad to Tobias Wolff’s In Pharaoh’s Army and includes, among many others, Jane Austen’s Emma, George Orwell’s 1984, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
Clark and Phelan’s deep dive into the synthetic, mimetic, and thematic leads them to explore many other aspects of narrative and narrative theory: style, audiences, the mimetic illusion, fictionality, and more. Their investigation also leads them into questions about rhetorical narratology’s relation to other projects in narrative theory, especially unnatural narratology, and, indeed, about how to assess the explanatory power of competing theories. Ultimately, their debate is compelling testimony about the power of both narrative theory and narrative itself.
Detective fiction is usually thought of as genre fiction, a vast group of works bound together by their use of a common formula. But, as Peter Thoms argues in his investigation of some of the most important texts in the development of detective fiction in the nineteenth century, the very works that establish the genre's formulaic structure also subvert that structure. Detection and Its Designs reads early detective fiction as a self-conscious form that is suspicious of the detective it ostensibly celebrates, and critical of the authorial power he wields in attempting to reconstruct the past and script a narrative of the crime.
In readings of Godwin's Caleb Williams, Poe's Dupin stories, Dickens's Bleak House, Collins's The Moonstone, and Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, Thoms argues that the detective's figurative writing emerges out of a desire to exert control over others and sometimes over himself.
Detection and Its Designs demonstrates that, far from being a naïve form, early detective fiction grapples with the medium of storytelling itself. To pursue these inward-turning fictions is to uncover the detective's motives of controlling the representation of both himself and others, a discovery that in turn significantly undermines the authority of his solutions.
In hard-hitting accounts of Auschwitz, Bosnia, Palestine, and Hiroshima’s Ground Zero, comics display a stunning capacity to bear witness to trauma. Investigating how hand-drawn comics has come of age as a serious medium for engaging history, Disaster Drawn explores the ways graphic narratives by diverse artists, including Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Keiji Nakazawa, Art Spiegelman, and Joe Sacco, document the disasters of war.
Hillary L. Chute traces how comics inherited graphic print traditions and innovations from the seventeenth century and later, pointing out that at every turn new forms of visual-verbal representation have arisen in response to the turmoil of war. Modern nonfiction comics emerged from the shattering experience of World War II, developing in the 1970s with Art Spiegelman’s first “Maus” story about his immigrant family’s survival of Nazi death camps and with Hiroshima survivor Keiji Nakazawa’s inaugural work of “atomic bomb manga,” the comic book Ore Wa Mita (“I Saw It”)—a title that alludes to Goya’s famous Disasters of War etchings.
Chute explains how the form of comics—its collection of frames—lends itself to historical narrative. By interlacing multiple temporalities over the space of the page or panel, comics can place pressure on conventional notions of causality. Aggregating and accumulating frames of information, comics calls attention to itself as evidence. Disaster Drawn demonstrates why, even in the era of photography and film, people understand hand-drawn images to be among the most powerful forms of historical witness.
For centuries, women who aspired to write had to enter a largely male literary tradition that offered few, if any, literary forms in which to express their perspectives on lived experience. Since the nineteenth century, however, women writers and readers have been producing "disobedient" counter-narratives that, while clearly making reference to the original texts, overturn their basic assumptions.
This book looks at both canonical and non-canonical works, over a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres, that offer counter-readings of familiar Western narratives. Nancy Walker begins by probing women's revisions of two narrative traditions pervasive in Western culture: the biblical story of Adam and Eve, and the traditional fairy tales that have served as paradigms of women's behavior and expectations. She goes on to examine the works of a wide range of writers, from contemporaries Marilynne Robinson, Ursula Le Guin, Anne Sexton, Fay Weldon, Angela Carter, and Margaret Atwood to precursors Caroline Kirkland, Fanny Fern, Mary De Morgan, Mary Louisa Molesworth, Edith Nesbit, and Evelyn Sharp.
Prince Myshkin is one of Dostoevsky's most perplexing creations. In this study, Bruce A. French presents a provocative interpretation of the religious dimension of Myshkin's goodness from a Bakhtinian perspective.
In three chapters, French takes up in turn the narrator and narrative points of view, the author’s use of inserted narratives, and three modes of interaction French calls Monologue, Dialogue, and Dialogical Living.
"Dying to Know is the work of a distinguished scholar, at the peak of his powers, who is intimately familiar with his materials, and whose knowledge of Victorian fiction and scientific thought is remarkable. This elegant and evocative look at the move toward objectivity first pioneered by Descartes sheds new light on some old and still perplexing problems in modern science." Bernard Lightman, York University, Canada
In Dying to Know, eminent critic George Levine makes a landmark contribution to the history and theory of scientific knowledge. This long-awaited book explores the paradoxes of our modern ideal of objectivity, in particular its emphasis on the impersonality and disinterestedness of truth. How, asks Levine, did this idea of selfless knowledge come to be established and moralized in the nineteenth century?
Levine shows that for nineteenth-century scientists, novelists, poets, and philosophers, access to the truth depended on conditions of such profound self-abnegation that pursuit of it might be taken as tantamount to the pursuit of death. The Victorians, he argues, were dying to know in the sense that they could imagine achieving pure knowledge only in a condition where the body ceases to make its claims: to achieve enlightenment, virtue, and salvation, one must die.
Dying to Know is ultimately a study of this moral ideal of epistemology. But it is also something much more: a spirited defense of the difficult pursuit of objectivity, the ethical significance of sacrifice, and the importance of finding a shareable form of knowledge.