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The Erotic World of Faery
The Erotic World of Faery
by Maureen Duffy
Edition: Paperback
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Mythology of Repressed Desires, October 25, 2014
In this erudite and popular study Maureen Duffy shows that a hitherto unsuspected guiding hand hovers over 1500 years of British culture. A thread of the erotic and fantastical has been pulled through our literature, folklore, art and mythology.Duffy's whimsical and absorbing interpretation traces the thread through Arthurian romance to Asimovian sci-fi, highlighting the continual reappearances and transformations of the world of faery.
As the embodiment of repressed desires, elves and pucks of the pre-Christian tradition run riot across the face of English literature, their subversive presence felt in Chaucer and Spencer, Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Pope and Keats. Even the seemingly pure sanctuary of Victorian nursery proves not to be secure against their invasion.
Instructive and lots of fun.


Goya: The Last Carnival (Reaktion Books - Essays in Art and Culture)
Goya: The Last Carnival (Reaktion Books - Essays in Art and Culture)
by Victor Ieronim Stoichiță
Edition: Paperback
Price: $28.45
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5.0 out of 5 stars The World Turned Upside Down, October 23, 2014
This ground-breaking reading of Goya's late work concentrates on his Caprichos using Bakhtin's notion of "carnival" to explain the celebrated series: more specifically its violence and its disturbing compositions are here portrayed by the authors as Goya's personal vision of a world turned upside down.
The Marquis De Sade is a second emblematic figure in this fascinating adventure into the reversal of all values. In conjunction with Goys's late work the authors show how obsessions with the notions of revolution and carnival, both inversions of the established order, characterized European culture at the end of the eighteenth century. Topics such as perversion, violence, transvestism, folly and the triumph of the flesh reveal art searching for techniques of ambiguity while adopting a symbolism of laughter. The study is deeply moving at times and the scholarly tone never becomes dry. The book is cultural theory more so then a critique of Goya's art. Should one wish to know Goya in depth Robert Hughes' Goya has more to offer (and the reproductions are more copious and of better quality), yet Stoichita and Coderch's book on Goya and the cultural milieu which affected his vision is second to none and a pleasure to read.


Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010
Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010
by Kathy Halbreich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $47.19
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5.0 out of 5 stars Art's Pulse, October 22, 2014
Polke seems to have always imposed on himself the role of a non-innocent bystander. In order to reclaim for painting a right to existence, or a mode of existentiality, like other contemporary artists, he plays on the pressure placed on him by history to endure his own negativity, to live by the nihilism demanded by the fall not just in social demands of art but also in the demands for expression. Polke's work transfers subjectivity (the function of subjectivity) from the painter to the painting's materiality, treating the canvas like a living organism, a physiological process that he makes visible and all his work on canvas brings about. This implies that the materials put in motion in a picture, their productive process, might possess an energy, a physical spirituality, of their own. His work is more than the single emanation of the artist's stylistic intention, it is indeed a higher spiritual being of their constructed subconscious. The paintings have attributes that impulsively and deliberately frame a wisdom, an internal intelligence of its own making, and it is precisely in this impulse that the artistic sublimation reveals itself.
Polke's paintings and pictures, his films and marginalia are of exceptional value for the art world verging on expressive bankruptcy, for he denies the painter the right to speak and gives the work its own life, its own voice, its own truth. The art of Sigmar Polke is of singular importance for contemporary aesthetic theory, and it rebels with the angst of an existentialist intent on giving life meaning within the stress of an impetus gone mad.


Rhetoric and Death: The Language of Modernism and Postmodern Discourse Theory
Rhetoric and Death: The Language of Modernism and Postmodern Discourse Theory
by Ronald Schleifer
Edition: Paperback
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Materiality of Language through Death's Phantom Presence, October 12, 2014
Rhetoric and Death examines the materialist conception of death that arose in the 20th century in terms of contemporary discourse theory in literary criticism, linguistics and post structuralism. In doing so Ronald Schleifer redefines Modernism and its relationship with Postmodernism.
The material surface of Modernist writing, the author asserts, resonates with the fact of nonsense and the dread of death - as in "The Wasteland" where Eliot offers the figure of "the third who walks always beside you" but who cannot be focused upon. Schleifer shows that the rejection of the notion of death as a transcendental event at the end of life transforms the function of rhetoric: rather than creating "depths" of meaning, rhetoric function to articulate the play of sense and non-sense.
This is an extremely distinguished book, a superb example of what is almost a new genre of scholarly and critical books. The author moves with remarkable ease from Freud to Benjamin, to De Man to Barthes, to Joyce to Yeats to Stevens, stopping along the way to dozen other authors. The upshot is an argument of original valance of what is essential and distinctive in these modernist authors, namely a materialist view of language and death. Enjoyable and impassioned.


Principled Positions: Postmodernism and the Rediscovery of Value
Principled Positions: Postmodernism and the Rediscovery of Value
by Judith Squires
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Question of Value, October 12, 2014
Principled Positions is a collection of essays that takes us back to the question of value, which has often been either dismissed entirely or disdainfully derided by postmodern theorists. It aims to retain the insights of postmodernism while recovering modernism's sense of value.
Postmodernism has often been celebrated as liberating, even democratising, in its refusal to acknowledge the dictates of hierarchy and certainty. In cultural terms this has allowed outmoded canons of taste and conservative categories of high and low culture to be challenged, and ultimately to be abolished; but it has also banished the vocabulary of evaluation, distinction and merit. In the postmodern cultural continuum, there is no such thing as good (or bad) art or politics.
The deconstruction of all principled positions creates a value vacuum which, in turn, leads to a state of ethical and political standstill. This collection of essays tries to build a bridge between modernist absolutes of truth and justice, and the anti-totalizing spirit of postmodernism.
Kate Soper's essay on subjectivity and the question of value is a jewel; Chantal Mouffe's essay on pluralism and citizenship invigorating; and Iris Marion Young's critique of the logic of group in political conflict is one to be treasured. The contributions are of a stellar cast and their critical appraisals are commensurate with their reputation. Excellent.


Antonio In Love - 1st US Edition/1st Printing
Antonio In Love - 1st US Edition/1st Printing
by Giuseppe Berto
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars The pathology of everyday life, October 9, 2014
Berto's novel tells of the brief joys and lasting sorrows of Antonio, a poor young Venetian who knows all about Werther and Childe HArold, relies a great deal on literary reminiscences, and haas strong romantic ambitions. The Italian title of the novel "La Cosa Buffa" is much more apt in describiing the mimicking sensibility and awkward naivete of Antonio. With deftness and sophistication, Berto explores the inner world of his hero and scrutinizes his complexes, illusions and distortions of reality. The originality of the book lies more firmly in its structure and verbal composition. Empathy and wit are melded to provide a stress of relief when the pathos and bathos are most intense. Berto is a rare talent all-too-soon forgotten...


Incubus.
Incubus.
by Giuseppe Berto
Edition: Hardcover
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Recesses of the Mind, October 9, 2014
This review is from: Incubus. (Hardcover)
This shocking profound humorous book burst onto the European literary scene with the abruptness of an explosion. A fictional autobiography, it reports a man's long struggle to exorcise the hatred for his father which has saddled him with the incubus of a seemingly undiagnosable and incurable malady (the incubus in question).
The writer of Incubus is in analysis. His report of his life flows along akin to that of a patient on the couch. Having dissolved his inhibitions, he is bitterly frank in dealing with himself. No less revealing, fascinating and complex are the relationships with others, most notably with a constellation of women, including his mother, sister, French mistress and wife. Freeing himself of them (his wife excepted) merely adds to his problems: the recurring crises provide moments of sardonic humor and hilarity. Giuseppe Berto has not merely written a book about the experience of psychoanalysis, rather he has presented the living mind and flesh of analysis. The result is a novel of instantly palpable literary quality.
The 1966 Alfred A. Knopf edition is superlatively translated by the great William Weaver.


Theater, Theory, Speculation: Walter Benjamin and the Scenes of Modernity
Theater, Theory, Speculation: Walter Benjamin and the Scenes of Modernity
by Rainer Nägele
Edition: Hardcover
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4.0 out of 5 stars Textuality, Theory and Subjectivity., October 5, 2014
In Theater, Theory, Speculation Rainer Nagele examines the interrelation of theater, rhetoric, and theory in the Trauerspiel and offers a comprehensive exploration of Benjamin's startling reading of modernity in the Baroque. Nagele reads Benjamin's book as a theory of language and writing that confronts the reader with precisely the problems and issues that constitute current theoretical debates about textuality, history, and subjectivity.
Nagele finds in Benjamin's thought an implicit and radical critique of Habermas's popular philosophical discourse of modernity. Instead of Habermas' phantasmatic battlefield of vast concepts - with "modernity" and "postmodernism" as opponents, and "the subject" or "history" as agents - Benjamin's theoretical project and the extensive problems of Modernism are presented through intensive reading, through complete immersion in the texs, their moves, and their tropes. The result, Nagele concludes, is a powerful and unexpected theory of Modernity.
While the work of Benjamin has resisted disciplinary classification, his literary criticism, metaphysical speculation, theological intuition, and dialectical materialism represent a puzzling constellation - and his students rarely consider all such implications. Studies of Benjamin's Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspeil in particular, argues Nagele, have focused almost exclusively on the work's melancholy and allegory. Few have struggled with the difficult epistemiological preface, and fewer still with sections that contain, in Nagele's words, "not only one of the most powerful readings of Baroque theater but also a theory of modern theory and drama as well as a theory of the subject".
Rainer Nagele succeeds on all fronts and offers his readers a Benjamin much more revolutionary than most other academicians have dared to extract.


The Philosophy of the Novel: Lukacs, Marxism and the Dialects of Form
The Philosophy of the Novel: Lukacs, Marxism and the Dialects of Form
by J. M. Bernstein
Edition: Hardcover
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Seminal work of Marxist Aesthetics, October 4, 2014
Lukacs Theory of the Novel has long been a key work in the philosophy of literature, and of late it has warranted a resurgence in its imprint on the sociology of literature. J.M. Bernstein shows that Theory of the Novel must be read in conjunction with History and Class Consciousness, for in tandem it comprises a major contribution to a Marxist hermeneutics.
Mr. Bernstein in his study complements the philosophy of Lukacs to his roots (Kant, Hegel and Marx) and thereby contends that the categories structuring the novel are the central concepts of the philosophy of Kant, and thus the novel is vitiated by the same antinomies that infect Kant's system.
Furthermore Bernstein offers a concise account of dialectical theory and a compelling analysis of Hegelian Marxism. He concludes by ascertaining that contemporary literary and critical practices only reinforce the antinomies already present in the novel. A focused and scholarly work of Marxist Aesthetics which is also a significant contribution to postmodernist literary criticism. In sum Bernstein clamors for a different way of reading the semiotics of the novel and foreshadows current debates on the autonomy of literature. A seminal work of Marxist Aesthetics.


Oblomov (Penguin Classics)
Oblomov (Penguin Classics)
by Ivan Aleksandrovich Goncharov
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.46
72 used & new from $5.91

4.0 out of 5 stars The Russian Hamlet, October 1, 2014
Oblomov is one of the masterpieces of Russian literature. Goncharov's novel with singular beauty relates the psychological tragedy of Ilya Ilytich Oblomov - the Russian Hamlet - a wealthy landowner living in St. Petersburg in mid 19th century. He is devoid of will power and self-confidence, incapable even of reading a book or of writing a letter; Oblomov spends his time lying on a divan, daydreaming of the reorganization and renovation of his family property. Love comes to his life and for a while rouses Oblamov to a semblance of action; but love is rejected and he thereby sinks again into his unendurable torpor.
The story is simple enough but the psychological insights into the human condition, and the meandering insights into the abyssal void we are faced with when contemplating the meaning of it all, are as vivid and witty as any world literature has to offer.
This penguin edition - beautifully and whimsical translated by David Magarshack - offers what previous editions of the work were incapable of giving the English reader: namely a balanced rhythmical rendition that seizes the melancholy stress and quick wit for which Goncharov is renowned in Russian letters, but which previous translations (Natalie Duddington) left the English reader in dismay and had most feeling betrayed by an unsatisfying elocution that seemed recycled from Dostoevsky and Turgenev.
The introduction by the translator is exceptional and should be read prior and after plunging into the novel proper, Happy reads.


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