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Literature > French Literature

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The Literary Market Cover

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The Literary Market

Authorship and Modernity in the Old Regime

By Geoffrey Turnovsky

A central theme in the history of Old Regime authorship highlights the opportunities offered by a growing book trade to writers seeking to free themselves from patrons and live "by the pen." Accounts of this passage from patronage to market have explored in far greater detail the opportunities themselves—the rising sums paid by publishers and the progression of laws protecting literary property—than how and why writers would have seized on them, no doubt because the choice to do so has seemed an obvious or natural one for writers assumed to prefer economic self-sufficiency over elite protection.

In The Literary Market, Geoffrey Turnovsky claims that there was nothing obvious or natural about the choice. Writers had been involved in commercial book publication since the earliest days of the printing press, yet had not necessarily linked these activities with their freedom to think and write. The association of autonomy and professionalism was forged, not given. Analyzing the literary market as a key articulation of the association, Turnovsky explores how in eighteenth-century polemics a rhetoric of commercial authorship came to signify independence for intellectuals. He finds the roots of the connection not in the claims of entrepreneurial writers to rights and income but in a world to which that of the modern author has been contrasted: the aristocratic culture of the seventeenth century. Aristocratic culture, he argues, generated a disparaging view of the professional author as one defined by activities tainting him or her as greedy and arrogant and therefore unworthy of protection and socially isolated. The Literary Market examines the story of the "birth of the author" in terms of the revalorization of this negative trope in Enlightenment-era debates about the radically changing role of writers in society.

Love Cures Cover

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Love Cures

Healing and Love Magic in Old French Romance

By Laine E. Doggett

What is love? Popular culture bombards us with notions of the intoxicating capacities of love or of beguiling women who can bewitch or heal—to the point that it is easy to believe that such images are timeless and universal. Not so, argues Laine Doggett in Love Cures. Aspects of love that are expressed in popular music—such as “love is a drug,” “sexual healing,” and “love potion number nine”—trace deep roots to Old French romance of the high Middle Ages. A young woman heals a poisoned knight. A mother prepares a love potion for a daughter who will marry a stranger in a faraway land. How can readers interpret such events? In contrast to scholars who have dismissed these women as fantasy figures or labeled them “witches,” Doggett looks at them in the light of medical and magical practices of the high Middle Ages. Love Cures argues that these practitioners, as represented in romance, have shaped modern notions of love. Love Cures seeks to engage scholars of love, marriage, and magic in disciplines as diverse as literature, history, anthropology, and philosophy.

Marie de France and the Poetics of Memory Cover

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Marie de France and the Poetics of Memory

Logan E. Whalen

Marie de France and the Poetics of Memory presents the first exhaustive treatment of the rhetorical use of description and memory in all the narrative works of the late 12th-century poet, Marie de France--the first woman to compose literary texts in French.

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Maurice Blanchot and the Literature of Transgression

John Gregg

In this book, the first in English devoted exclusively to Maurice Blanchot, John Gregg examines the problematic interaction between the two forms of discourse, critical and fictional, that comprise this writer's hybrid oeuvre. The result is a lucid introduction to the thought of one of the most important figures on the French intellectual scene of the past half-century.

Gregg organizes his discussion around the notion of transgression, which Blanchot himself took over from Georges Bataille--most palpably in his interpretation of the myth of Orpheus--as a paradigm capable of accounting for the relationships that exist in the textual economies formed by author, work, and reader. Chapters on the critical work address such issues as Blanchot's ambivalent attitude toward the speculative dialectic of Hegelianism, his thematization of literature's involvement with death, and the mythical and Biblical figures he uses to portray the acts of reading and writing. Gregg also performs extended close readings of two representative works of fiction, Le Très-Haut and L'Attente l'oubli, in an effort to trace Blanchot's evolution as a creator of narratives and to ascertain how his fiction can be seen as constituting a mise en oeuvre of the concerns he treats in his criticism. The book concludes with an assessment of Blanchot's place in the recent history of French critical theory.

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Medical Examinations

Dissecting the Doctor in French Narrative Prose, 1857-1894

Mary Donaldson-Evans

From the crude battlefield surgery of Revolutionary times to the birth of modern clinical medicine, the nineteenth century witnessed impressive developments in the medical sciences and a concomitant growth in the prestige of the medical practitioner. In France this phenomenon had important implications for literature as writers scrambled to give legitimacy to their enterprise by allying themselves with science. Overflowing its traditional banks, medical discourse inundated the field of French literature, particularly in the realist and naturalist movements.

The literati's enthrallment with medicine and their subservient adoption of a medical model in the creation of their plots and characters have not previously been seriously questioned. In Medical Examinations, Mary Donaldson-Evans corrects this oversight. Exploring six novels and two short stories published during the Second Empire and the early Third Republic, she argues that there was a growing resistance to medicine's linguistic and professional hegemony, a resistance fraught with ideological implications. Tainted by a subtle—and sometimes not so subtle—anti-Semitism, some of the fiction of this period adopts counterdiscursive strategies to tar the physician with his own brush. Featured authors include Gustave Flaubert, Edmond and Jules Goncourt, Emile Zola, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Guy de Maupassant, and Alphonse and Léon Daudet.

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Medieval Autographies

The "I" of the Text

A. C. Spearing

In Medieval Autographies, A. C. Spearing develops a new engagement of narrative theory with medieval English first-person writing, focusing on the roles and functions of the “I” as a shifting textual phenomenon, not to be defined either as autobiographical or as the label of a fictional speaker or narrator. Spearing identifies and explores a previously unrecognized category of medieval English poetry, calling it "autography.” He describes this form as emerging in the mid-fourteenth century and consisting of extended nonlyrical writings in the first person, embracing prologues, authorial interventions in and commentaries on third-person narratives, and descendants of the dit, a genre of French medieval poetry. He argues that autography arose as a means of liberation from the requirement to tell stories with preordained conclusions and as a way of achieving a closer relation to lived experience, with all its unpredictability and inconsistencies. Autographies, he claims, are marked by a cluster of characteristics including a correspondence to the texture of life as it is experienced, a montage-like unpredictability of structure, and a concern with writing and textuality. Beginning with what may be the earliest extended first-person narrative in Middle English, Winner and Waster, the book examines instances of the dit as discussed by French scholars, analyzes Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue as a textual performance, and devotes separate chapters to detailed readings of Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes prologue, his Complaint and Dialogue, and the witty first-person elements in Osbern Bokenham’s legends of saints. An afterword suggests possible further applications of the concept of autography, including discussion of the intermittent autographic commentaries on the narrative in Troilus and Criseyde and Capgrave’s Life of Saint Katherine.

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Memory and Complicity

Migrations of Holocaust Remembrance

Debarati Sanyal

Since World War II, French and Francophone literature and film have repeatedly sought not to singularize the Holocaust as the paradigm of historical trauma but rather to connect its memory with other memories of violence, namely that of colonialism. These works produced what Debarati Sanyal calls a “memory-incomplicity” attuned to the gray zones that implicate different regimes of violence across history as well as those of different subject positions such as victim, perpetrator, witness, and reader/spectator. Examining a range of works from Albert Camus, Primo Levi, Alain Resnais, and Jean-Paul Sartre to Jonathan Littell, Assia Djebar, Giorgio Agamben, and Boualem Sansal, Memory and Complicity develops an inquiry into the political force and ethical dangers of such implications, contrasting them with contemporary models for thinking about trauma and violence and offering an extended meditation on the role of aesthetic form, especially allegory, within acts of transhistorical remembrance. What are the political benefits and ethical risks of invoking the memory of one history in order to address another? What is the role of complicity in making these connections? How does complicity, rather than affect based discourses of trauma, shame and melancholy, open a critical engagement with the violence of history? What is it about literature and film that have made them such powerful vehicles for this kind of connective memory work? As it offers new readings of some of the most celebrated and controversial novelists, filmmakers, and playwrights from the French-speaking world, Memory and Complicity addresses these questions in order to reframe the way we think about historical memory and its political uses today.

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The Mighty Orinoco

Jules Verne

Jules Verne (1828-1905) was the first author to popularize the literary genre of science fiction. Written in 1898 and part of the author's famous series Voyages Extraordinaires, The Mighty Orinoco tells the story of a young man's search for his father along the then-uncharted Orinoco River of Venezuela. The text contains all the ingredients of a classic Verne scientific-adventure tale: exploration and discovery, humor and drama, dastardly villains and intrepid heroes, and a host of near-fatal encounters with crocodiles, jungle fever, Indians and outlaws -- all set in a wonderfully exotic locale. The Mighty Orinoco also includes a unique twist that will appeal to feminists -- readers will need to discover it for themselves. This Wesleyan edition features notes, and a critical introduction by renowned Verne scholar Walter James Miller, as well as reproductions of the illustrations from the original French edition.

CONTRIBUTORS: Walter James Miller, Stanford Luce, Arthur B. Evans.

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The Modernist Traveler

French Detours, 1900-1930

Kimberley J. Healey

The Modernist Traveler considers figures whose writing about travel rebelled against a literary tradition of exoticism, adventure stories, and novelistic travelogues. Instead these writers initiated a modernist strain in travel writing and a shift in the literary establishment and the culture at large. Kimberley J. Healey focuses on those French writers and thinkers who traveled in order to experience a displacement of both the inner self and the physical body while writing against the prevalent tradition of travel literature.
 
The modern self, modern time, colonial spaces, and the physical body are Healey’s concerns as she reads works by Victor Segalen, Paul Morand, Blaise Cendrars, Henri Michaux, Saint-John Perse, Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Nizan, Albert Londres, Andre Malraux, Valéry Larbaud, and Isabelle Eberhardt. This book shows how, in the field of French literature, these texts about travel best capture the modernist experience of being alone in a world of new technologies, cultural diversity, and anxiety about the self.

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Montaigne After Theory / Theory After Montaigne

edited by Zahi Zalloua

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