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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

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Imagining the Postcolonial

Discipline, Poetics, Practice in Latin American and Francophone Discourse

Jaime Hanneken

A comparative study of Latin American and francophone postcoloniality.

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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.

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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.

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Jacques de la Taille's La Manière

A Critical Edition

Pierre Han

A critical edition of the literary criticism of Jacques de la Taille, including the original French text, critical footnotes, and introductory essay. The work is primarily a study of quantitative verse in Italy, France, and England during the Renaissance.

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Jehan de Lanson, Chanson de Geste of the XIII Century

Edited after the Manuscripts of Paris and Bern with Introduction, Notes, Table of Proper Names, and Glossary

John Vernon Myers

Jehan de Lanson is a thirteenth-century French epic poem in alexandrine verse. This edition is based on the manuscripts of Paris and Bern, and includes an introduction, a table of proper names, and a glossary.

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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.

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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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La Chançun de Willame

With an Etymological Glossary

Nancy V. Iseley

La Chancun de Willame is an Old French epic poem written before 1150 concerning Vivien's resistance to an invading Moslem army and the efforts of his uncle William to rescue him. The poem has a second part dedicated to the activities of a kitchen boy named Reneward in the same battlefield. This volume, edited by Nancy V. Iseley, includes an etymological glossary by Guerard Piffard.

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La Chanson de Willame

A Critical Study

Howard S. Robertson

Published in 1966, this study is an interpretation of the Chanson de Willame and at the same time an enlargement of traditional concepts defining all medieval epic literature calculated to advance our appreciation of its literary quality.

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