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Book of the Sphinx

Willis Goth Regier

Sought, the Sphinx seems everywhere, whether the guardian of the pyramids on Egypt's Giza plateau or the beautiful man-eater with a deadly riddle, to be approached with awful caution. The Sphinx, that icon painted, sculpted, engraved, and exalted in poetry, fiction, and music, so impressed the philosopher Hegel that he pronounced the creature “the symbol of the symbolic itself.” With a wealth of illustrations, Book of the Sphinx confirms Hegel's lofty judgment, finding the Sphinx everywhere: in tragedies, paintings, opera, murder mysteries, brothels, bars, and advertisements.
 
Pursuing the Sphinx through kaleidoscopic sightings and encyclopedic observations, Willis Goth Regier plumbs the symbol's mysteries, conducting the reader down ever more perplexing and intriguing paths. Wonderfully readable, his highly idiosyncratic tour of the ages and the arts leads at last to a conception of the Sphinx that embraces nothing less than all that is unknowable—proving once again that confronting a Sphinx is one of the most dangerous and exhilarating adventures of the imagination.

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The Exquisite Corpse

Chance and Collaboration in Surrealism's Parlor Game

Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren

In a parlor game played by the Surrealist group—the foremost avant-gardists of their time—participants made their marks on the quadrants of a folded sheet of paper: a many-eyed head, a distorted torso, hands fondling swollen breasts, snarling reptilian-dog feet descending from an egg-shaped midsection. The “Exquisite Corpse,” as it was called, is still very much alive, having found artistic and critical expression from the days of the Surrealists down to our own. This method has been used in collective artistic protocols as the “rules of engagement” for experimental art, as a form of social interaction, and as an alternative mode of critical thinking.
 
This collection is the first to address both historical and contemporary works that employ the ritual of the cadavre exquis. It offers a unique overview of the efforts of scholars and artists to articulate new notions of crossing temporal and spatial boundaries and to experience in a new way the body’s mutability through visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic frames. Bringing together diverse writers from across disciplinary boundaries, this volume continues the cultural and methodological innovations that have unfolded since the first days of the “Exquisite Corpse.”

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Germany's Colonial Pasts

Eric Ames

Germany’s Colonial Pasts is a wide-ranging study of German colonialism and its legacies. Inspired by Susanne Zantop’s landmark book Colonial Fantasies, and extending her analyses there, this volume offers new research by scholars from Europe, Africa, and the United States. It also commemorates Zantop’s distinguished life and career (1945–2001).
 
Some essays in this volume focus on Germany’s formal colonial empire in Africa and the Pacific between 1884 and 1914, while others present material from earlier or later periods such as German emigration before 1884 and colonial discourse in German-ruled Polish lands. Several essays examine Germany’s postcolonial era, a complex period that includes the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany with its renewed colonial obsessions, and the post-1945 era. Particular areas of emphasis include the relationship of anti-Semitism to colonial racism; respectability, sexuality, and cultural hierarchies in the formal empire; Nazi representations of colonialism; and contemporary perceptions of race. The volume’s disciplinary reach extends to musicology, religious studies, film, and tourism studies as well as literary analysis and history. These essays demonstrate why modern Germany must confront its colonial and postcolonial pasts, and how those pasts continue to shape the German cultural imagination.

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Jean-Paul Sartre and The Jewish Question

Anti-antisemitism and the Politics of the French Intellectual

Jonathan Judaken

Jean-Paul Sartre and the Jewish Question examines the image of “the Jew” in Sartre’s work to rethink not only his oeuvre but also the role of the intellectual in France and the politics and ethics of existentialism. It explores more broadly how French identity is defined through the abstraction and allegorization of “the Jew” and examines the role anti-antisemitic intellectuals play in this process.
 
Jonathan Judaken reconsiders the origins of the intellectual in France in the context of the Dreyfus affair and Sartre’s interventions in the parallel Franco-French conflicts in the 1930s and during the Vichy regime. He considers what it was possible to say on behalf of Jews and Judaism during the German occupation, Sartre’s contribution after the war to the Vichy syndrome, his positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the ways Sartre’s reflections on the Jewish Question served as a template for his shift toward Marxism, his resistance to colonialism, and for the defining of debates about Jews and Judaism in postwar France by both Jewish and non-Jewish intellectuals. Judaken analyzes the texts that Sartre devoted to these issues and argues that “the Jew” constituted a foil Sartre consistently referenced in reflecting on politics in general and on the role of the intellectual in particular.

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