Texas Studies in Literature and Language 45.4 (2003) iv
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Each of these essays analyzes forms of intertextual dynamics. Sylvia Henneberg establishes the relation between Max Jacob's brilliant poem on Brazil and Elizabeth Bishop's more politically positive response to it, convincingly arguing a greater political thrust to Bishop's poetry than is generally perceived. In Brian Diemert's essay on E. L. Doctorow's The Waterworks and Marc Steinberg's on Charles Johnson's Middle Passage the intertextuality is more generic. Doctorow plays on the detective story and thus aligns his novel with the subgenre of the metaphysical detective story, while Johnson does a postmodernist turn on slave narratives. Doctorow and Johnson bring a postmodernist fragmentation and skepticism to bear on the assumptions of more traditional modes. Both expand realism via the supernatural and fantastic. But the longest and most complex relations of texts are found in Robert Chodat's lucid and brilliant exploration of Saul Bellow's questioning of how the radically eliminative and radically idealist dogmas of postmodernism combine in "natural superhumanism" (a clear play on Meyer Abrams's term, "natural supernaturalism"). Bellow and Chodat invert the now expectable postmodernist skepticism about realism by bringing a chastened form of what Chodat terms "folk realism" skeptically to bear on the received ideas of postmodernism. Are they asking, Who's naïve now?
We wish to thank Adam Newton, Thomas Whitbread, and Jennifer Wilks for their indispensable help in selecting the essays in this issue.