Literary Refractions

Broj 1 - Godina 5 - 12/2014

Uvodnik

As a ray of light, sound, or heat changes direction in passing obliquely from one medium into another changing thus its wave velocity, so changes a literary text with every new reading as the reader adds a new layer of meaning to it or, depending on your perspective, peels off the intricate fabric of words that the writer wove around the text's hidden meaning(s) to access its richness. The ninth issue of [sic] brings you a selection of papers in Croatian and English language that represent the result of such refractions. They discuss matters of literary subversion by means of comic effects, irony, satire, and anti-poetics, or social subversion by revealing modern society as being fundamentally disciplinary and averse to individual freedom. Interpreting texts written by Shakespeare and Levinas to those by Joshua Ferris, our authors cover a vast period of literary creativity only to show that what always and forever tickles the imagination of writers is the human condition. To write about the dreams and the human mind, or direct films that question the authenticity of life, means to employ different motifs and stories with the aim to return to ourselves and our daily existence refracted first by the creative genius of writers and then again by the curiosity of scholars. ..

Pročitaj cijeli članak →
Izdvojeno

Friday 16 July 1852. Sunrise. The end of the night. It rained. It isn’t raining anymore. Large slate clouds run across the sky. Flaubert hasn’t slept. He goes out into the garden at Croisset: lime trees, then poplars, then the Seine. An outbuilding on a bank beside some water. He’s finished Part One of Madame Bovary.That Sunday, he would write Louise Colet how at dawn on Friday he’d felt strong, serene, blest in sense and in purpose. The dawn wind does him good. He has a tired fat handsome face, a calm fat handsome face. He loves writing. He loves the world.“Deprived of a party, country, house, personal life, etc., he made writing his only reason to live, and it grips one’s heart how seriously he takes the written world.” These words of Pasolini’s pertain to Gombrowicz. But they might just as well be applied to Flaubert, and one’s heart would not be gripped any less, maybe more. For, if Flaubert had a personal life (as Gombrowicz did after all, but then Pasolini always goes very fast), he pretended not to have one; just as he pretended to have no house, country, freedom, mother named Caroline, orphaned niece also named Caroline, Seine at the end of the path, rolling on before his eyes, sharecroppers’ hillside groves, heaps of disciples and flatterers, well-meaning interns hard at work on his behalf in the corridors of Paris journals and salons: all things Gombrowicz truly did not have, that he, Flaubert, had. Flaubert pretended to have none of all that, that which he had, and for him this pretension became real; he patched together a mask which comprised his skin, and with which he wrote his books; skin and mask had been so well glued that when he wished to retire it, he found nothing more in his hand than an indissoluble mixture of flesh and cardboard under the thick clown moustache. Perhaps it wasn’t truly the clown that he played so much as the monk, and not just to the stands, but in his own eyes and to himself: he was not only a defrocked friar with the guys or on the street; he donned the silk babouches when he went home too. He dispossessed himself of the Seine that rolled on before his eyes; the small girl who lived on her feet, whom he puts to death in all his books, he hardly saw her; the loveliest girls of his day, the finest too for sure, who wanted him, so that he happened to come – he dispossessed himself of them, whether he came or opted to come no more, which amounted to the same thing; no apples from Norman orchards, no trees deep in the woods, no unlaced Louise Colet, no lilies, no young laughter, no Louise Colet weeping at his door, he kissed it all off, laughed over it and kissed it off, cried about it and kissed it off, he was not there. In fact he had nothing, he was deprived of everything, since it was in his head....

Pročitaj cijeli članak →

In his seminal Existence and Existents, Emmanuel Levinas linked the impersonal event of the il y a, the “there is” of inert, factical existence, to a condition of insomnia. His analysis of insomnia holds a unique place in his oeuvre where a thorough ambivalence toward 'being' manifests itself: to be-for-the-Other (before the self, or before all neglected Others) is the highest moment of existential and ethical transcendence, though to be 'awake' in order to encounter the Other is also to be pulled in a diametrically opposed direction, toward the factical and purely immanent experience of the world and of my own existence. In this essay I will read Shakespeare's Henry IV (Parts I and II) with an eye toward reading the relationship(s) between sleep, insomnia, and ethics anew. I will develop a Levinasian reading of Shakespeare: sleep as a transcendence of the factical, everyday situation is at the same time a passage toward the ethical situation.Keywords: Levinas, Shakespeare, ethics, insomnia...

Pročitaj cijeli članak →

Mental disorders have become the topic of numerous contemporary American novels. Attesting to the ongoing fascination with the workings and the sciences of the human mind, many of these texts turn to neuroscientific questions. This paper offers a close reading of one of these ‘neuronarratives’ – Joshua Ferris’s acclaimed 2010 novel The Unnamed, a story in which the protagonist is afflicted with an utterly mysterious condition that disrupts his sense of self as his mind appears to be separated from his body. In this paper, I aim to show how such a dualist conception problematizes not only the concepts of self and agency as the unnamed disease is linked to contemporary lifestyles in corporate America, but also helps to craft a counternarrative that challenges recent materialist conceptions and neuroscientific theories. Keywords: illness narrative, mental illness in fiction, (in)coherence, neuronarrative, body, mind, Philosophy of Mind, dualism...

Pročitaj cijeli članak →

In this article I argue that the Harry Potter novels constitute a Gothic narrative about homoerotic child abuse. The various confrontations between Harry and the Dark Lord are interpreted as representing the unavoidable encounter with what Ruth Bienstock Anolik has defined as ‘the sexual Other’ infiltrating the Self in Gothic texts. Specifically, I examine the re-enactment of trauma in the narrative as a typical trope of the Gothic. Harry’s progressive acquisition of knowledge on his adversary is therefore interpreted as a metaphor for the gradual re-assertion of repressed traumatic memories on consciousness.Keywords: Harry Potter, trauma, repression, Gothic, abuseThe critical readings on J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels hitherto published have mainly focused on the commercially-successful and worldwide consumerist phenomenon of the series and have specifically considered it as belonging to the literary genre of children literature (Carey 159; Rangwala 140; Nafici 209; Nikolajeva 240). We could, however, also inscribe the series into the Gothic genre. This is due to the use of many figures (such as the monster), locations (such as the castle), and tropes (such as the depiction of the story’s villain as a sexual threat or the theme of the return of the past) that are typical of the Gothic genre. The novels begin with the murders of Lily and James Potter and the attempt on the life of Harry (Hook 91) and are then permeated by the “themes of evil, darkness, destruction and murder” (Patrick and Patrick 221). As some critics have noted, there are “numerous and horrendous instances of violence” (Taub and Servaty-Seib 22) throughout the series and death is one of the dominant themes of the narrative, which “moves from wonder, innocence, and comedy to fear, experience, and tragedy” (Behr 263). Secondly, many of the scenes of the seven novels are set in environments which are typically Gothic, as the following examples illustrate: the Forbidden Forest inhabited by many dangerous and lethal creatures in The Philosopher’s Stone; the mysterious and hidden chamber under the Hogwarts castle within which a frightening and monstrous horror resides in The Chamber of Secrets; the low and narrow secret passages leading out of the castle in The Prisoner of Azkaban; the dark and overgrown graveyard in The Goblet of Fire; the labyrinthic corridors of the Department of Mysteries in The Order of the Phoenix, full of rooms which are actually laboratories where dangerous experiments unknown to the community at large take place; and the frightening cave containing a lake which hides an army of zombies in The Half-Blood Prince. As Anne Hiebert Alton has recognized, the use of such Gothic elements “leads to an atmosphere that tends to be frightening” and thus further stimulates suspense in the reader (203). For example, the tunnel under the castle – a location which itself has been the proper setting for Gothic narratives since Horace Walpole’s 1764 The Castle of Otranto – leading Harry and Ron to the Chamber of Secrets in the second volume of the series is depicted as ...

Pročitaj cijeli članak →