Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Frontispiece

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Contents

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p. ix

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Acknowledgments

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p. ix

It is humbling to contemplate how much help one has had in the production of a modest book. I am fortunate to be at the University of South Carolina, which offers generous support of research. My department appointed me to its rotating research professorship for a crucial semester, and the university's...

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1 Tradition, Talent, and "Stolentelling"

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pp. 1-26

Oscar Wilde once remarked, "It is only the unimaginative who ever invents. The true artist is known by the use he makes of what he annexes, and he annexes everything."1 Wilde's observation prefigures a famous dictum of T. S. Eliot's: "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal."2 The force of these epigrams...

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2 Tragedy and the "Post-Absurd"

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pp. 27-45

However benign, symbiosis has a subversive tendency; the latecomer's exploitation of a host text more or less naturally begins with its aporias, those places in it where object threatens to subvert subject, where the assumption or absolute that provides the text's epistemological bedrock begins to...

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3 Patriarchy and Its Discontents

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pp. 46-65

Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea does not, like Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, represent a comprehensive rewriting of the host text—at least it does not at first seem to. From the flourishing literary plant Jane Eyre Rhys takes as it were a cutting, which then matures as a related but different plant. Such...

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4 Proleptic Parody

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pp. 66-84

Medieval philosophers explained mortality as the result of an imbalance in the elemental composition of an organism. Hence the line in Donne's "The Good-Morrow": Whatever dies was not mixed equally. Perhaps the unequal mixing of elements in symbiosis might also prove fatal—the too-successful guest discovering itself...

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5 Fathers and Rats

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pp. 85-104

Charles Kinbote, trying to be John Shade's double, gradually reveals another self in King Charles Xavier the Beloved of Zembla. Humbert Humbert, with his droll mirror name, discovers in Clare Quilty an alter ego with whom he executes an hilarious dance around the stable-identity maypole....

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6 The Sexual and Cultural Other in Peking and Nagasaki

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pp. 105-126

The butterfly: an ancient and richly varied symbol in both Western and Eastern art. Poets and mythographers traditionally associate it with the soul, with rebirth, and with transformation. In the story of Cio Cio San and Lieutenant...

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7 Adrian & Francisco Are Gay: Auden Reading Shakespeare

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pp. 127-148

"It's surprising that there have been so few imitations of Shakespeare," W. H. Auden once remarked.1 The point is less valid, perhaps, after Tom Stoppard, but as Auden himself demonstrates, Shakespeare can bring out the best in those who follow or challenge him. Where Stoppard, with Hamlet and Macbeth his symbiotic matrices, turns Shakespearean tragedy inside-out, W. H....

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8 Epistemic Dialogue: Defoe, Cozzens, Tournier, Coetzee

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pp. 149-172

Literary historians honor Robinson Crusoe as the founding piece of a new genre: the English novel. Though the present study generally holds to the intcrtcxtual argument that literary originality is a myth, Defoe's famous story comes close to being sui generis. One can, to be sure, construe it as yet another...

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9 Ancients and Moderns and Postmoderns

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pp. 173-190

Rewriting Beowulf as Grendel, John Gardner marshals a little more reverence than Tom Stoppard brings to the transformation of Hamlet into Rosencrantz &Guildenstern Are Dead. These four texts are, however, interestingly related. As Stoppard's play includes a character—the Player—who invites recognition...

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10 Stretto Conclusion: The Lyric Symbiont

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pp. 191-208

Stretto: a kind of fugal exposition in miniature. Late in a fugue, the composer will often repeat—at an accelerated tempo—the statement of the musical subject in its various voices. Hence Thomas Pynchon, describing the rapid alteration of weather in the days around a February episode of "false spring...

Notes

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pp. 209-228

Works Cited

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pp. 229-240

Index

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pp. 241-254