In its descriptions of a quest for an
idyllic Thai lagoon, The Beach creates a romantic portrait of a
space seemingly untouched by the homogenizing effects of consumption. As the
novel develops, however, it becomes increasingly clear that this escapist dream
is unsustainable. Starting with the recognition that Garland's characters find
themselves reproducing the world they intended to leave behind, this essay
considers the implications The Beach raises for the analysis of relationships between consumerism
and escapism, and reflects upon the critical possibilities generated by the
novel's representation of globalization.
This essay examines how Elizabeth Robins borrowed from the
theater to fashion new forms of modern identities for women. Robins combines
melodramatic and burlesque performance genres in ways that alter the
conventions of realist narrative and prefigure the cosmopolitan, fluid
subjectivities of high modernism. Ranging from anti- and pro-British women's
suffrage rhetoric to emergent forms of leisure activities and crowd theories,
this essay contextualizes the problems, fears, and advantages of cross-class
identifications. While Robins ultimately contains these sexualized,
working-class energies, she nonetheless documents a powerful critique of
middle-class forms of subjectivity and knowledge that imagines a leveling of
In this essay, I argue that
Oscar Wilde's trip through the "ruined" South reinforced his nascent
preoccupation with the relationship between beauty and decay, a preoccupation
that informed his most iconic creation, Dorian Gray: the beautiful aristocrat
in whom physical decline and Aestheticism merge. I argue that Wilde's The
Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) is a novel
whose gothicism was in part born of the same aesthetics of ruin as William
Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! (1936),
and demonstrate that in Wildean dandyism (as expressed through both Wilde's
self-aestheticization and his prose) Faulkner recognized a model through which
to critique the multiple and contradictory performances of Southern
aristocracy. By first directly invoking Wilde and then reworking the temptation
scene in Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), Faulkner reinterprets dandyism for the
Southcasting the dandy as a culturally-perceived monster who registers the
threat that miscegenation and deviant sexuality pose to the postbellum South.
essay explores the relationship between Jean Rhys and Ford Madox Ford through
the lens of D. W. Winnicott's psychological theories. Specifically, the essay
explores the ways in which Rhys turns Ford into a transitional object in her
fiction in order to free herself from his dominant role in her life and
fiction. The essay also explores the generic complexities of Rhys's negotiation
of autobiographical and fictional materials as she attempts to develop and
utilize psychological insight about her own dependency on Ford in order to
achieve literary freedom for herself.
This essay highlights the fact that any reading or teaching
of Gravity's Rainbow proceeds from a
secure sense of Pynchon's aesthetic relation to history. Based on the argument
that Gravity's Rainbow is an historical novel, this essay shows how
Pynchon in this novel stages the conflict between elect and preterit, between
nature and technology, between historical human agency and grace by embedding
its themes within the specificity in Central Europe at the end of World War II.
Atwood's The Blind Assassin has to do with memory as retro- spection, temporality being figured spatio-materially, with
the emphasis on vision. In attempting to "fix" time through an
obsessive elaboration of material objects, the novel foregrounds the lure and
deception of the visual, the way images, like symbols, function, to stand in
for what isn't there. Images of duplicity or doubling, encapsulated in the
photo of the two often indistinguishable sisters, torn in half, suggest a
return to that moment of simultaneous self-identity and self-alienation in the
mirror, described by Lacan as a violent "tearing" between self and
other, a perpetual (self-)assassination.
The essay looks at possible areas of intersection between
postcolonial criticism and ecocriticism, two relatively recent critical schools
that, despite their obvious differences, share similar concerns with social
justice and transformation. Via readings of three recent texts by Arundhati
Roy, J. M. Coetzee, and Barbara Gowdy, the essay argues that postcolonial
criticism and ecocriticism exist in part as mutual correctives: postcolonial
criticism to the culture-blindness of certain strands of ecocriticism, and
ecocriticism to the anthropocentric tendencies of postcolonial thought.
Larbalestier, Justine. Battle of the sexes in science fiction.
Attebery, Brian, 1951- Decoding gender in science fiction.
Science fiction, American -- History and criticism.
Two new critical books that
focus on gender and science provide an opportunity to reflect on how far
science-fiction criticism has developed in the last decade. Justine
Larbalestier's The Battle of Sexes in Science Fiction and Brian Attebury's Decoding Gender in
Science Fiction demonstrate a level of
sophistication and complexity that reveal it is difficult to discuss science
fiction without addressing gender issues. The appearance of these two books
suggests the importance and marketability of science-fiction criticism and
science fiction itself to redefinitions of modern fiction.