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How the Russians Read the French Cover

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How the Russians Read the French

Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy

Priscilla Meyer

Russian writers of the nineteenth century were quite consciously creating a new national literary tradition. They saw themselves self-consciously through Western European eyes, at once admiring Europe and feeling inferior to it. This ambivalence was perhaps most keenly felt in relation to France, whose language and culture had shaped the world of the Russian aristocracy from the time of Catherine the Great.
            In How the Russians Read the French, Priscilla Meyer shows how Mikhail Lermontov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Lev Tolstoy engaged with French literature and culture to define their own positions as Russian writers with specifically Russian aesthetic and moral values. Rejecting French sensationalism and what they perceived as a lack of spirituality among Westerners, these three writers attempted to create moral and philosophical works of art that drew on sources deemed more acceptable to a Russian worldview, particularly Pushkin and the Gospels. Through close readings of A Hero of Our Time, Crime and Punishment, and Anna Karenina, Meyer argues that each of these great Russian authors takes the French tradition as a thesis, proposes his own antithesis, and creates in his novel a synthesis meant to foster a genuinely Russian national tradition, free from imitation of Western models.
 
Winner, University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies, American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies

Imagining the Postcolonial Cover

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Imagining the Postcolonial

Discipline, Poetics, Practice in Latin American and Francophone Discourse

A comparative study of Latin American and francophone postcoloniality.

Into the Breach Cover

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Into the Breach

Samuel Beckett and the Ends of Literature

Thomas Trezise

Arguing that Beckett's understanding of subjectivity cannot be reduced to that of phenomenology or existential humanism, Thomas Trezise offers a major reinterpretation of Beckett in light of Freud and such post-modernists as Bataille, Blanchot, and Derrida. Through extended comparisons of Beckett's trilogy of novels with the writings of these thinkers, he emphasizes a "general economy" of signification that both produces and dispossesses the phenomenological self. Trezise shows how Beckett's work defines literature as an instance within this economy and in so doing challenges traditional conceptions of literature itself and of the subject.

The undoing of historical time in an abyssal repetition, the involvement of the subject with an impersonal alterity, the priority of error, the understanding of art as an inspired failure--at once an impossibility and an imperative rather than an act of freedom and power--all underscore Beckett's contribution to a form of thought radically irreducible to phenomenology as well as to existential humanism. Trezise suggests that Beckett's own literary corpus be considered an exploration of the breach that this artistic failure opens in traditional philosophical approaches to the human subject.

Originally published in 1990.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Intratextual Baudelaire Cover

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Intratextual Baudelaire

The Sequential Fabric of the Fleurs du mal and Spleen de Paris

Montaigne’s Essays are treasured for their philosophical and moral insights and the fascinating portrait they give us of the man who wrote them, but another of their undoubted delights is that they tantalize the reader, offering beneath an apparent disorder some hints of a hidden plan. After all, though the essayist kept adding new pages, except when he added the third and final book, he never added a new chapter but worked within the structure already in place. Order in Disorder: Intratextual Symmetry in Montaigne’s “Essais,” by Randolph Paul Runyon, offers a new answer to the question of how ordered the Essays may be. Following up on Montaigne’s likening them to a painter’s “grotesques” surrounding a central image, and seeing in this an allusion to the ancient Roman decorative style, rediscovered in the Renaissance, of symmetrical motifs on either side of a central image, Runyon uncovers an extensive network of symmetrical verbal echoes linking every chapter with another. Often two chapters of greatly different length and apparent importance (one on thumbs, for instance, balanced against one on the limits of human understanding) will in this way be brought together—not without, Runyon finds, an intended irony. The Essays emerge as even more self-reflexive than we thought, an amazingly intratextual work.

Julie, or the New Heloise Cover

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Julie, or the New Heloise

Letters of Two Lovers Who Live in a Small Town at the Foot of the Alps

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

An elegant translation of one of the most popular novels of its time.

Rousseau's great epistolary novel, Julie, or the New Heloise, has been virtually unavailable in English since 1810. In it, Rousseau reconceptualized the relationship of the individual to the collective and articulated a new moral paradigm. The story follows the fates and smoldering passions of Julie d'Etange and St. Preux, a one-time lover who re-enters Julie's life at the invitation of her unsuspecting husband, M. de Wolmar.

The complex tones of this work made it a commercial success and a continental sensation when it first appeared in 1761, and its embodiment of Rousseau's system of thought, in which feelings and intellect are intertwined, redefined the function and form of fiction for decades. As the characters negotiate a complex maze of passion and virtue, their purity of soul and honest morality reveal, as Rousseau writes in his preface, "the subtleties of heart of which this work is full."

A comprehensive introduction and careful annotations make this novel accessible to contemporary readers, both as an embodiment of Rousseau's philosophy and as a portrayal of the tension and power inherent in domestic life.

Kingdom of Disorder Cover

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Kingdom of Disorder

Theory of Tragedy in Classical France

by John Lyons

In this revisionist study of the poetics of tragedy during the French classical age, John Lyons challenges prevailing notions of a coherent, unified, and widely accepted "classical doctrine."

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L'Esprit Créateur

Vol. 36 (1996) through current issue

Exploring all periods of French literature and thought, l'esprit créateur has been analyzing and documenting contemporary French and Francophone Studies for half a century. Contributors represent a variety of methodologies and critical approaches, and address literature, film, criticism, and culture.

Last Steps Cover

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Last Steps

Maurice Blanchot's Exilic Writing

Christopher Fynsk

Writing, Maurice Blanchot taught us, is not something that is in one's power. It is, rather, a search for a non-power that refuses mastery, order, and all established authority. For Blanchot, this search was guided by an enigmatic exigency, an arresting rupture, and a promise of justice that required endless contestation of every usurping authority, an endless going out toward the other."The step/not beyond" ("le pas au-delà") names this exilic passage as it took form in his influential later work, but not as a theme or concept, since its "step" requires a transgression of discursive limits and any grasp afforded by the labor of the negative. Thus, to follow "the step/not beyond" is to follow a kind of event in writing, to enter a movement that is never quite captured in any defining or narrating account.Last Steps attempts a practice of reading that honors the exilic exigency even as it risks drawing Blanchot's reflective writings and fragmentary narratives into the articulation of a reading. It brings to the fore Blanchot's exceptional contributions to contemporary thought on the ethico-political relation, language, and the experience of human finitude. It offers the most sustained interpretation of The Step Not Beyond available, with attentive readings of a number of major texts, as well as chapters on Levinas and Blanchot's relation to Judaism. Its trajectory of reading limns the meaning of a question from The Infinite Conversation that implies an opening and a singular affirmation rather than a closure: "How had he come to will the interruption of the discourse?"

Legacies of the Rue Morgue Cover

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Legacies of the Rue Morgue

Science, Space, and Crime Fiction in France

By Andrea Goulet

Taking Edgar Allan Poe's 1841 "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" as an inaugural frame, Andrea Goulet traces shifting representations of violence, space, and nation in French crime fiction from serial novels of the 1860s to cyberpunk fictions today. She argues that the history of spatial sciences—geology, paleontology, cartography—helps elucidate the genre's fundamental tensions: between brutal murder and pure reason; historical past and reconstructive present; national identity and global networks.

As the sciences underlying her analysis make extensive use of strata and grids, Goulet employs vertical and horizontal axes to orient and inform her close readings of crime novels. Vertically, crimes that take place underground subvert above-ground modernization, and national traumas of the past haunt present criminal spaces. Horizontally, abstract crime scene maps grapple with the sociological realities of crime, while postmodern networks of international data trafficking extend colonial anxieties of the French nation.

Crime gangs in the catacombs of 1860s Paris. Dirt-digging detectives in coastal caves at the fin-de-siècle. Schizoid cartographers in global cyberspace. Crime fiction's sites of investigation have always exposed central rifts in France's national identity while signaling broader, enduring unease with violent disruptions to social order. Reading murder novels of the last 150 years in the context of shifting sciences, Legacies of the Rue Morgue provides a new spatial history of modern crime fiction.

LES CONTEMPLATIONS of Victor Hugo: An Allegory of the Creative Process Cover

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LES CONTEMPLATIONS of Victor Hugo: An Allegory of the Creative Process

Suzanne Nash

Victor Hugo's work presents the reader with a paradox nowhere more apparent than in the collection of more than 150 lyric poems entitled Les Contemplations. Although he insisted upon structural unity, his complex artistic creations often seem disordered and digressive. Suzanne Nash examines this contradiction, and she proposes here a new approach to Les Contemplations that reveals how it may be read as a unified allegory of Hugo's understanding of the creative process.

The author's reading heightens the subtleties of individual poems by placing them within the context of the collection. She clarifies the poet's use of rhetorical devices and. illuminating Les Contemplations as a metapoetic creation, shows how it can serve as a guide to Hugo's other works.

The first two chapters present evidence of Hugo's narrative intention, place his work within an allegorical tradition, and describe the structure of the allegory. One poem, Pasteurs et troupeaux, is analyzed as a paradigm for the whole, and a single theme, that of Léopoldine as sacrificial muse and figure for poetic language, is traced through the six books. The author demonstrates Hugo's narrative purpose in his use of rhetorical forms and examines (according to predominance of themes, images, and technical devices) the six chapters as steps in the religio-poetic allegory.

Originally published in 1977.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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