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Photography, Film, and Comic Art in French Autobiography
From Prehistory to the End of Mankind
To the short list that includes Jules Verne and H.G. Wells as founding fathers of science fiction, the name of the Belgian writer J.-H. Rosny Aine must be added. He was the first writer to conceive, and attempt to narrate, the workings of aliens and alternate life forms. His fascination with evolutionary scenarios, and long historical vistas, from first man to last man, are important precursors to the myriad cosmic epics of modern science fiction. Until now, his work has been virtually unknown and unavailable in the English-speaking world, but it is crucial for our understanding of the genre. Three wonderfully imaginative novellas are included in this volume. "The Xipehuz" is a prehistoric tale in which the human species battles strange geometric alien life forms. "Another World" is the story of a mysterious being who does not live in the same acoustic and temporal world as humans. "The Death of the Earth" is a scientifically uncompromising Last Man story. The book includes an insightful critical introduction that places Rosny's work within the context of evolutionary biology.
Fictional Foreigners in Old Regime France
In the eighteenth century, a type of novel flourished showing naive outsiders who come to Europe and are amazed at what they see. Foreign travelers first set foot in Europe in the sixteenth century and are memorably present in Montaigne's essay Des Cannibales. The genre was made popular in France by Montesquieu's novel Lettres persanes. Considering the "stranger" as a figure of ambiguity, Sylvie Romanowski explains why the genre was so useful to the Enlightenment. The question of why showing ambiguous stranger is important in that period is addressed in the book's introduction by setting the Enlightenment in the historical context of the seventeenth century. Romanowski then examines Montaigne's Des Cannibales, showing how these first "outsiders" relate to their eighteenth-century successors. She next considers Montesquieu's Lettres persanes in its entirety, studying the voices of the men, the women, and the eunuchs. She also studies other examples of the genre. The author closes with a discussion of the philosophical tension, ongoing in Western thought, between skeptics and those who, refusing skepticism, seek firm foundations for knowledge, this draws connections between the sixteenth century, and our "postmodern" era.
History and Memory in François Mauriac’s Bloc-notes
This book, the first English-language study of Mauriac's Bloc-notes, presents these poignant, incisive editorials on social justice, war, and human rights in postwar France as both symptomatic of a culture imbued with the past and emblematic of a Christian humanist's ethical approach to history and memory.
Michel Tournier, member of the Acadimie Goncourt and one of the most influential French writers of the post-Nouveau roman period, stresses the crucial interrelationship that exists between myth and literature. It is the writer's duty, he states, to keep myths alive by continually renewing and transforming them, re-releasing them in an ever changing social context. Written in French, this study considers the Tournier novel as the story of a voyage in a literal and figurative sense. Jonathan Krell uses the term "elementary" to characterize this voyage through the universe of Tournier's imagination, which is dominated by the four primordial element&--earth, water, air, and fire. Building on a foundation of Western culture's rudimentary myths, such as the ogre, twinship, and the Biblical stories of creation and the magi, Tournier performs a radical and disturbing transformation. Professor Krell shows how the transformation is made.
Understanding Marcel Proust includes an overview of Marcel Proust’s development as a writer, addressing both works published and unpublished in his lifetime, and then offers an in-depth interpretation of Proust’s major novel, In Search of Lost Time, relating it to the Western literary tradition while also demonstrating its radical newness as a narrative. In his introduction Allen Thiher outlines Proust's development in the context of the political and artistic life of the Third Republic, arguing that everything Proust wrote before In Search of Lost Time was an experiment in sorting out whether he wanted to be a writer of critical theory or of fiction. Ultimately, Thiher observes, all these experiments had a role in the elaboration of the novel. Proust became both theorist and fiction writer by creating a bildungsroman narrating a writer's education. What is perhaps most original about Thiher’s interpretation, however, is his demonstration that Proust removed his aged narrator from the novel’s temporal flow to achieve a kind of fictional transcendence. Proust never situates his narrator in historical time, which allows him to demonstrate concretely what he sees as the function of art: the truth of the absolute particular removed from time’s determinations. The artist that the narrator hopes to become at the end of the novel must pursue his own individual truths—those in fact that the novel has narrated, for him and the reader, up to the novel’s conclusion. Written in a language accessible to upper-level undergraduates as well as literate general readers, Understanding Marcel Proust simultaneously addresses a scholarly public aware of the critical arguments that Proust's work has generated. Thiher's study should make Proust's In Search of Lost Time more widely accessible by explicating its structure and themes.
Clothing in Twelfth-Century French Romance
Enide’s tattered dress and Erec’s fabulous coronation robe; Yvain’s nudity in the forest, which prevents maidens who know him well clothed from identifying him; Lanval’s fairy-lady parading about in the Arthurian court, scantily dressed, for all to observe: just why is clothing so important in twelfth-century French romance? This interdisciplinary book explores how writers of this era used clothing as a signifier with multiple meanings for many narrative purposes. Clothing figured prominently in twelfth-century France, where exotic fabrics and furs came to define a social elite. Monica Wright shows that representations of clothing are not mere embellishments to the text; they help form the textual weave of the romances in which they appear. This book is about how these descriptions are constructed, what they mean, and how clothing becomes an active part of romance composition—the ways in which writers use it to develop and elaborate character, to advance or stall the plot, and to structure the narrative generally.
Creatureliness in Early Modern French Spirituality
Throughout Western civilization, animals have decorated heraldic shields, populated medieval manuscripts, and ornamented baroque pottery. Animals have also been our companions, our correctives, and our ciphers as humanity has represented and addressed issues of authority, cultural strife, and self-awareness as theological, moral, and social beings. In The Wisdom of Animals: Creatureliness in Early Modern French Spirituality, Catharine Randall traces two threads of thought that consistently appear in a number of early modern French texts: how animals are used as a means for humans to explore themselves and the meaning of existence; and how animals can be subjects in their own right. In her accessible, interdisciplinary study, Randall explores the link between philosophical and theological discussions of the nature and status of animals vis-à-vis the rest of existence, particularly humans. In doing so, she provides the early modern backdrop for the more frequently studied modern and postmodern notions of animality. Randall approaches her themes by way of French confessional and devotional literature, especially the works of Michel de Montaigne, Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, St. Francis de Sales, and Guillaume-Hyacinthe Bougeant. From these, she elicits contrasting perspectives of animality: rational vs. mystical, representational vs. sacramental, religious vs. secular, and Protestant vs. Jesuit Catholic perspectives.