State University of New York Press

SUNY series, The Margins of Literature (discontinued)

Mihai I. Spariosu

Published by: State University of New York Press

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SUNY series, The Margins of Literature (discontinued)

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Aryans, Jews, Brahmins

Theorizing Authority through Myths of Identity

In Aryans, Jews, Brahmins, Dorothy M. Figueira provides a fascinating account of the construction of the Aryan myth and its uses in both India and Europe from the Enlightenment to the twentieth century. The myth concerns a race that inhabits a utopian past and gives rise first to Brahmin Indian culture and then to European culture. In India, notions of the Aryan were used to develop a national identity under colonialism, one that allowed Indian elites to identify with their British rulers. It also allowed non-elites to set up a counter identity critical of their position in the caste system. In Europe, the Aryan myth provided certain thinkers with an origin story that could compete with the Biblical one and could be used to diminish the importance of the West’s Jewish heritage. European racial hygienists made much of the myth of a pure Aryan race, and the Nazis later looked at India as a cautionary tale of what could happen if a nation did not remain “pure.” As Figueira demonstrates, the history of the Aryan myth is also a history of reading, interpretation, and imaginative construction. Initially, the ideology of the Aryan was imposed upon absent or false texts. Over time, it involved strategies of constructing, evoking, or distorting the canon. Each construction of racial identity was concerned with key issues of reading: canonicity, textual accessibility, interpretive strategies of reading, and ideal readers. The book’s cross-cultural investigation demonstrates how identities can be and are created from texts and illuminates an engrossing, often disturbing history that arose from these creations.

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Home Is Somewhere Else

Autobiography in Two Voices

Following the Nazi annexation of Austria in March of 1938, Desider Furst, his wife, and his daughter suddenly found themselves hunted outlaws, holders of a German passport branded with a red “J” for Jewish. They escaped from Vienna and eventually settled in England, where they spent the war years as “enemy aliens.” In 1971 they emigrated once more, this time voluntarily, to the United States. Home is Somewhere Else is a dual-voice, autobiographical narration by father and daughter, recounting the family’s displacements, obstacles, and repeated reversals. The experiences documented here are typical of many Central Europeans whose lives were radically and painfully affected by the Nazis. This book’s originality lies in its narrative format and its revelation of what befell the “lucky” ones merely on the margins of the Holocaust.

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Medical Progress and Social Reality

A Reader in Nineteenth-Century Medicine and Literature

An anthology of nineteenth-century literature about medicine and medical issues. Medical Progress and Social Reality is an anthology of nineteenth-century literature on medicine and medical practice. Situated at the interdisciplinary juncture of medicine, history, and literature, it includes mostly fictional but also some nonfictional works by British, French, American, and Russian writers that describe the day-to-day social realities of medicine during a period of momentous change. Issues addressed in these works include the hierarchy in the profession, the use of new instruments such as the stethoscope, the advent of women doctors, the function of the hospital, and the shifting balance of power between physicians and patients. The volume provides an introductory overview of the most important aspects of medical progress in the nineteenth century, and it includes an annotated bibliography of further readings in medical history and literature. Selections from Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Sarah Orne Jewett, Sinclair Lewis, Mikhail Bulgakov, and others are included, as well as the American Medical Association’s 1847 Code of Ethics.

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Ninochka

A Novel

A playful literary mystery set in the 1930s and 1990s, Ninochka tells the double tale of two women exiles who are both homesick and sick of home. Tanya, a Russian immigrant living in New York, travels to Paris in an attempt to reconstruct the secret life of Nina B., who was murdered there almost sixty years ago, on the eve of World War II. The murder was never solved, and in an attempt to crack the case, Tanya takes possession of Nina’s handbag, which contains her diaries, love letters, kits for embroidering Russian blouses, a mysterious treatise on Eurasian supremacy, and a review of Ninotchka, the film in which Greta Garbo played a KGB agent who finds romance in Paris. Among the potential murder suspects are a charismatic professor and nationalist leader, an aspiring American songwriter, an aging Trotskyite, a Hungarian con artist, a heavy-drinking singer of nostalgic romance, and an athletic Comrade X of unknown origins who was rumored to have returned to the Soviet Union. As Tanya is drawn into this immigrant underworld of displaced people, double agents, and dreamers, she finds herself more and more implicated in the life of the murdered woman. Ultimately, she is forced to return to her native country, where she confronts her own homesickness in the changing post-Soviet world.

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