Q - S Bookshelf Faculty Bookshelf - Alphabetical by Author's Surname Q | R | S
Ed. Ato Quayson
The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature 2 Volume Set
Cambridge University Press
, 2012 www.cambridge.org/9780521517492
Postcolonial studies is attentive to cultural differences, marginalisation and exclusion. Such studies pay equal attention to the lives and conditions of various racial minorities in the West, as well as to regional, indigenous forms of representation around the world as being distinct from a dominant Western tradition. With the consolidation of the field in the past forty years, the need to establish the terms by which we might understand the sources of postcolonial literary history is more urgent now than ever before. The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature is the first major collaborative overview of the field. A mix of geographic and thematic chapters allows for different viewpoints on postcolonial literary history. Chapters cover the most important national traditions, as well as more comparative geographical and thematic frameworks. This major reference work will set the future agenda for the field, whilst also synthesising its development for scholars and students.
Calibrations: Reading for the Social
Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2003
Proposes an entirely new socially and politically conscious way of reading.
Ato Quayson explores a practice of reading that oscillates rapidly between domains—the literary-aesthetic, the social, the cultural, and the political—in order to uncover the mutually illuminating nature of these domains. He does this not to assert the often repeated postmodernist view that there is nothing outside the text, but to outline a method of reading he calls calibrations: a form of close reading of literature with what lies beyond it as a way of understanding structures of transformation, process, and contradiction that inform both literature and society.
Quayson surveys a wide array of texts—ranging from Bob Marley lyrics, Toni Morrison’s work, Walter Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History, and Althusser’s reflections on political economy—and treats a broad range of themes: the comparative structures of alienation in literature and anthropology, cultural heroism as a trope in African society and politics, literary tragedy as a template for reading the life and activism of Ken Saro-Wiwa, trauma and the status of citizenship in post-apartheid South Africa, representations of physical disability, and the clash between enchanted and disenchanted time in postcolonial texts.
Ato QuaysonAesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation
New York: Columbia University Press, 2007
Focusing primarily on the work of Samuel Beckett, Toni Morrison, Wole Soyinka, and J. M. Coetzee, Ato Quayson launches a thoroughly cross-cultural, interdisciplinary study of the representation of physical disability. Quayson suggests that the subliminal unease and moral panic invoked by the disabled is refracted within the structures of literature and literary discourse itself, a crisis he terms "aesthetic nervousness." The disabled remind the able-bodied that the body is provisional and temporary and that normality is wrapped up in
certain social frameworks. Quayson expands his argument by turning to Greek and Yoruba writings, African American and postcolonial literature, depictions of deformed characters in early modern England and the plays of Shakespeare, and children's films, among other texts. He considers how disability affects interpersonal relationships and forces the character and the reader to take an ethical standpoint, much like representations of violence, pain, and the sacred. The disabled are also used to represent social suffering, inadvertently obscuring their true hardships.
Ato QuaysonAfrican Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Literary Theory
(with Tejumola Olaniyan)
New York: Blackwell, 2007
This anthology gathers together of the best critical work on African literature and on larger questions of literary history, the sociology of literature, criticism and theory. It represents the a collection of the best that has been thought and written about African literary culture and the modern imagination.
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Mothers and Other Clowns: The Stories of Alice Munro
This is the first study of the work of Alice Munro to focus on her obsession with mothering, and to relate it to the hallucinatory quality of her magic realism. A bizarre collection of clowning mothers parade across the pages of Munro's fiction, playing practical jokes, performing stunts, and dressing in thrift shop disguises that recycle vintage literary images. Paying close attention to their mimicries, Magdalene Redekop studies this parade with the aim of gaining increased understanding of Munro's evolving comic vision. As the outlines of her aesthetic are delineated, it becomes clear that it involves a new way of looking at autobiography and a new way of looking at narrative sequence. "A playful and learned reading of Munro's writing, that provokes anew the delight readers experience in the elusive complexity of both her subtle formal craft and her consistent moral, as well as aesthetic self-questioning. Engaged and engaging, this study makes both reading and storytelling--like mothering and clowning--into expressions of power and responsibility alike. Accept its invitation to a carnivalesque adventure in reading and writing, in the unresolvable pleasures and pains of living the processes of art."
Brick Books, 1996
This collection of poems, the author’s fourth, takes its impetus from the confrontation between civilization and nature imaged in its cover art, a photograph taken by William Notman in 1897. The photograph (like the poem based on it) depicts a woman in elaborate nineteenth-century costume staring into the hollow centre of a towering old-growth cedar in Stanley Park. She is a kind of midland swimmer, as she contemplates the inner ocean of the tree. Movement through the six sections of the collection as a whole (and in part through each section) is from country to city, from past to present, and from art to an attempt to unearth the art in life. One poem, “A Chain for Stephanie” – which juxtaposes experiences in classical Rome with those of the author’s childhood and his daughter’s – was a final selection for the 1995 National Magazine Awards in Poetry. Another, “The Call,” was among the winning entries for the League of Canadian Poets’ seventh national poetry competition.
John ReibetanzMining for Sun
Brick Books, 2000
Opening out to more narrative structures, this collection contains fewer poems than its immediate predecessor, but they are longer and more various. They are also more politically implicated, confronting such issues as the displacement of North American aboriginal peoples, child and urban poverty, and intolerance. Perhaps in response to such engagement, Mining for Sun was selected in May, 2001 as one of the six collections (out of over 150 considered) on the shortlist of the Re-Lit Awards.
John ReibetanzNear Relations
McClelland and Stewart, 2005
This collection extends the efforts of Mining for Sun to incorporate interests and approaches usually associated with narrative, without losing the concentration and intensity of poetic form. The title suggests an affinity with contemporary short fiction; and the fiction of such writers as Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, and Ann Beattie has been an informing inspiration. The poems most often focus on urban scenes and characters; and they attempt to do so with that awareness of the inextricable nature of the personal and the social/political which which drove the author to translate Brecht’s “Buckow Elegies” in the 1980s. The collection first probes pivotal moments in the lives of his family. Then, following the same creative urge celebrated in the folksongs of his mother’s Irish heritage and the blues of Louis Armstrong, they move into a world of intersecting fictional relations, unfolding a broad range of characters. One of the poems, “Night Thoughts,” was awarded First Prize in the international Petra Kenney Poetry Competition.
Julia M. Reibetanz
A Reading of Eliot’s Four Quartets
UMI Research Press, 1983
This study offers a full reading of T. S. Eliot’s most complex long poem. It explores the poem in detail, arguing from its primary constitutive elements to its overall structure and argument. Prosody is an important focus of the reading. Eliot’s metrical practice is examined in the light of his stated aim to create a new accentual line. The poem is also read in the light of its debt to the long tradition of English landscape poetry, especially the greater Romantic lyric. As poetry of place, the Quartets define themselves through the actual physical landscapes in which they are grounded. But they also define themselves through the landscapes of thought which Eliot inherited from the vast scope of his reading. His debt especially to the mystical treatises of St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul, and to the Bhagavad Gita are closely investigated. In the largest sense, the Quartets are read as meditative lyrics, in which the narrative of thought subsumes both philosophical argument and symbolist perception, forging a unity of the “way down” and the “way up,” of the “fire” and the “rose.”
Terry F. Robinson and Monika Class, eds. and contributors
Transnational England: Home and Abroad, 1780-1860
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
The rise of the modern English nation coincided with England’s increased encounters with other peoples, both at home and abroad. Their cultures and ideas—artistic, religious, political, and philosophical—contributed, in turn, to the composition of England’s own domestic identity. Transnational England
sheds light on this exchange through a close investigation of the literatures of the time, from dramas to novels, travel narratives to religious hymns, and poetry to prose, all of which reveal how connections between England and other world communities 1780-1860 simultaneously fostered and challenged the sovereignty of the English nation and the ideological boundaries that constituted it.
Featuring essays from distinguished and emergent scholars that will enhance the literary, historical, and cultural knowledge of England's interaction with European, American, Eastern, and Asian nations during a time of increased travel and vast imperial expansion, this volume is valuable reading for academics and students alike. Reviews
“This absorbing collection brings to light the extent to which British Romantic and Victorian literary and performance culture was saturated by transnational influences. From the sacramental to the salacious, from the centralities of the canon to the creolizing peripheries, 'English Literature' in its most 'nationalist' phase is revealed as a dynamic palimpsest of cultural confluence. In a series of detailed and beautifully crafted essays the scholars represented here collectively make a compelling case for the interwoven presence of American, Asian and European elements at the heart of imperial Britain.”
—Susan Manning, Grierson Professor of English Literature and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), University of Edinburgh
“In Transnational England
, established scholars and newer voices discuss England's productive yet problematic international encounters as reflected in Romantic literature, and in the spheres of theatre, religion, and travel. Refreshingly original and often provocative, these essays propose that we recognize, among other things, a ‘women’s cosmopolitanism’ emerging in English Romantic drama and a transnational hymnody in the Anglican Church; they expose the difficulties involved in Blake’s patriotic stance and argue that Coleridge’s most distinctive achievements are most deeply engaged with German literature; they demonstrate how descriptions of foreign food and depictions of ‘home’ can call British national identity into question. This collection makes highly stimulating reading for students and scholars of Romanticism, especially those engaged with the compelling subjects of national identity, international relations, imperialism, and comparative literature.”
—Angela Esterhammer, Professor of English Literature, University of Zurich; Distinguished University Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Western Ontario
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W.B.Yeats and George Yeats The Letters
Oxford University Press, 2011
During the twenty-two years of their married life, W. B. and George Yeats corresponded regularly and fully whenever they were apart. They discussed his writing and other projects, their family and friends, and the social, artistic, and political scene in Ireland and the United Kingdom in far more detail than with anyone else. Both were splendid and enchanting storytellers. The letters include fascinating drafts of poems, statements of belief, candid descriptions of people and events, and in some cases offer biographical and historical corrections to the popular narrative of Yeats's life. And not for nothing would he write to his wife, 'you are much the best letter writer I know, or have known'. The letters between them not only tell the story of the marriage of two minds and the world they created, but also illuminate how Yeats worked on his writing and reveal a refreshing image of the poet as a family man.
"These letters, scrupulously edited and richly and exhaustively annotated, do offer, as Saddlemyer maintains, 'a story of the marriage of two minds and the world they created'. They also provide a fresh perspective on the personality of a loving, funny, altogether marvellous and, above all, tolerant woman." --John Banville, The Oldie
"The letters are brilliantly annotated by Ann Saddlemyer." --Roy F. Foster, Sunday Business Post
"Allows us to witness the complexities of life and art entwined...Saddlemyer is a meticulous scholar of a kind now increasingly rare... Unlike most meticulous editors, however, Saddlemyer is also an elegant writer with a keen sense of proportion." --James Longenbach, The Nation
Becoming George - The Life of Mrs W.B.Yeats
Oxford University Press, 2002; paperback ed. 2003
This is the first full biography of George Yeats. With the generous co-operation of the family, her friends, and Yeats scholars throughout the world, it draws upon hitherto unpublished material and other documents to establish the role this remarkably intelligent and extraordinarily knowledgeable woman played in her husband's life and work. For six years before her marriage Georgie Hyde Lees was a serious student of the occult and medieval philosophy, knowledge which led to the automatic writing that formed a basis for A Vision and most of Yeats's later writings. In addition she worked closely with the Dublin Drama League, for a number of years ran the embroidery section of Cuala, and then on the death of her husband and his sister Elizabeth became editor and publisher of the Cuala Press. A discriminating critic and accomplished linguist who was far more familiar with contemporary European literature than her husband, she numbered among her close friends the playwright Lennox Robinson, the poet and art critic Thomas MacGreevy, the short story writer Frank O'Connor, and the young poet John Montague. Ezra Pound and the musicians Jelly d'Aranyi and Walter Rummel, were close friends throughout her life.
After Yeats's death she was in sole charge of his work and manuscripts, for thirty years knowledgeably steering the 'Yeats industry' through her advice and assistance to such critics as Ellmann, Jeffares, Bradford, Virginia Moore and a host of younger scholars.
Ann SaddlemyerLater Stages: Essays on Ontario Theatre from World War I to the 1970s
(with Richard Plant)
University of Toronto Press, 1997
This book is the final volume in the OHHS series, and the second volume in the first comprehensive history of theatre in Ontario, both edited by Ann Saddlemyer.
Ann SaddlemyerJ. M. Synge The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays
Oxford University Press, 1995 (World's Classics Series)213
A volume in the Oxford World Classics Drama series, freshly edited with critical introduction, wide-ranging notation and bibliography.
Babes in Tomorrowland: Walt Disney and the Making of the American Child, 1930-1960
Duke University Press, 2005
Who made the normal American child? In Babes in Tomorrowland, Nicholas Sammond traces a path back to the sources of that child—one that links Margaret Mead to the Mickey Mouse Club and behaviorism to Bambi—to demonstrate that the production of a generically normal American child in the early twentieth century was as much the work of popular media as it was of developmental science. To locate that child, Sammond draws on popular child-rearing manuals and periodicals, mainstream sociological texts, and advertisements that targeted a burgeoning youth market. He also examines the films, TV programs, and ancillary products—everything from milk bottles, to school supplies, to wristwatches—of Walt Disney Productions, and the publicity Disney used to pitch its products. Sammond delineates the institutional and discursive ties that bound industry to science to the home, revealing a child that was as much the creature of popular media as the victim of its excesses.
By carefully studying how the science of human development was translated into the practice of child-rearing, and how magazines and child-rearing manuals described the child as the crucible of an ideal American culture, Sammond demonstrates how Walt Disney Productions’ greatest creation—Walt Disney—was made to embody that cultural ideal, and how his products were described as imbued with his spirit. Sammond argues that, contrary to popular belief, Disney didn’t annex childhood…at least not without a lot of help from the locals (or their parents). Without a fantasy of an ideally normal American child and the belief that movies and television either helped or hindered its creation, Disney might never have found its market niche as the paragon of family entertainment. At the same time, though, without media producers such as Disney, representations of that ideal child would not have circulated as freely in American popular culture. Moving beyond arguments that children are irrevocably shaped by the media they consume, Sammond demonstrates how arguments about the effects of media created both Walt Disney and the normal child he served, the embodiment of a future made in his image.
Winner of the 2006 Katherine Singer Kovacs award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Given for outstanding scholarship in film and media studies that significantly advances scholarly thinking in the field.
Nicholas Sammond, ed.Steel Chair to the Head: the pleasure and pain of professional wrestling.
Duke University Press, 2005
The antagonists—shaved, oiled, pierced, and tattooed; the glaring lights; the pounding music; the shouting crowd: professional wrestling is at once spectacle, sport, and business. Steel Chair to the Head provides a multifaceted look at the popular phenomenon of pro wrestling. The contributors combine critical rigor with a deep appreciation for wrestling as a unique culture form, the latest in a long line of popular performance genres. They examine wrestling as it happens in the ring, is experienced in the stands, is portrayed on television, and is discussed in online chat rooms. In the process, they reveal wrestling as an expression of the contradictions and struggles that shape American culture.
The essayists include scholars in anthropology, psychology, film studies, communication studies, and sociology, one of whom used to wrestle professionally. Classic studies of wrestling by Roland Barthes, Carlos Monsiváis, Sharon Mazer, and Henry Jenkins appear alongside original essays. Whether exploring how pro wrestling inflects race, masculinity, and ideas of reality and authenticity; how female fans express their enthusiasm for male wrestlers; or how lucha libre provides insights into Mexican social and political life, Steel Chair to the Head gives due respect to pro wrestling by treating it with the same thorough attention reserved for more conventional forms of cultural expression.
Cannon SchmittAlien Nation: Nineteenth-Century Gothic Fictions and English Nationality
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997
Alien Nation reads the Gothic as a genre that encapsulates a powerful and enduring cultural narrative for nineteenth-century Britain. Gothic fictions depend for their effects upon varieties of estrangement, from the breakdown of communication between genders and classes to the baffled efforts of modernity to make sense of its own feudal past. While no single thread unites these orders of misunderstanding, I argue that nationality organizes much of what is characteristically Gothic. “Nation” here carries a double valence. On one hand, Gothics--both classics of the genre, such as Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian (1797), and later works such as Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)--pose as semi-ethnographic texts in their representation of Continental Europe or the Far East as fundamentally un-English, sites of depravity. On the other, a persuasive notion of Englishness was itself constructed in these novels. This construction initially functioned by means of a threatened female figure (the quintessential Gothic heroine) who ostensibly embodied a peculiarly English subjectivity. Later, threatened femininity came to stand in synecdochically for the nation as a whole, a development that clarifies the usefulness of Gothic plotting to England’s efforts to imagine itself. In journalistic accounts of imperial conflicts such as the Sepoy Mutiny and the Opium Wars, for instance, the figure of the Gothic heroine was pulled from the pages of fiction and pressed into the service of the nation-state.
Cannon Schmitt and Nancy Henry, eds.Victorian Investments: New Perspectives on Finance and Culture
Indiana University Press, 2008
The watchword of this volume in its entirety is transformation. Rapid changes in Victorian financial markets and investment practices reflected and influenced broader social changes: political and moral reform, the struggle for women’s rights, the growth of empire. The Victorians developed new kinds of financial writing in a flourishing press as well as in manuals, advice books, advertising, and novels; new knowledge was produced and consumed by a growing number of readers--shareholders and non-shareholders alike. Impossible any longer to consider as a thing apart, investment cut across all aspects of life: the financial sphere overlapped with the domestic sphere, overseas expansion promised to fund comfortable retirement, speculation rewrote the plots and themes of Victorian fiction and reshaped its form. Victorian Investments bears witness to such transformations even as it manifests a corresponding transformation in critical approaches to studying and understanding the multiple and complex intersections between culture and high finance. Contributors include Timothy Alborn, Ian Baucom, Martin Daunton, Nancy Henry, David C. Itzkowitz, Audrey Jaffe, Donna Loftus, Mary Poovey, George Robb, and Cannon Schmitt.
Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America
Cambridge University Press, 2009
When the young Charles Darwin landed on the shores of Tierra del Fuego in 1832, he was overwhelmed: nothing had prepared him for the sight of what he called "an untamed savage." The shock he felt, repeatedly recalled in later years, definitively shaped his theory of evolution. In this study, I show how Darwin and other Victorian naturalists transformed such encounters with South America and its indigenous peoples into influential accounts of biological and historical change. Redefining what it means to be human, they argue that the modern self must be understood in relation to a variety of pasts--personal, historical, and ancestral--conceived of as savage. Darwin and the Memory of the Human reshapes our understanding of Victorian imperialism, revisits the implications of Darwinian theory, and demonstrates the pertinence of nineteenth-century biological thought to current theorizations of memory.Reviews:
“This is a brilliant, original, often difficult, but ultimately satisfying book. It is also very ambitious, for it sets out, by focusing on South America as an object of European travels and voyage narratives, to analyze and indeed reconstruct the construction, or ‘invention,’ as Schmitt puts it, of ‘the human as natural.’ . . . The payoff emerges from the strength of the argument, the ultimately moving engagement with the subject, the freshness of the material considered, and the unequivocally brilliant analyses of language that mark every chapter.”
— George Levine, NBOL-19 http://www.nbol-19.org/view_doc.php?index=51
“Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America
is a beautifully written, elegantly conceived contribution to the study of nineteenth-century evolutionary theory’s cultural implications. . . . [The book is] radically different from any other scholarly work I know. It gives new meaning to the term ‘literary criticism’ by making its literariness part of its critical method. The incantatory beauty of Schmitt’s prose is not an incidental feature, a decorative belle-lettrism. Rather it is designed to re-represent the lost savage Victorians, to make them alive in us again, as we read Schmitt who . . . calls forth the ways of dwelling in the lost past that makes such continuing presence possible.”
— Kathy Alexis Psomiades, Criticism http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/criticism/summary/v052/52.1.psomiades.html
Atavistic Tendencies: the Culture of Science in American Modernity
University of Minnesota Press, 2008
The post-Darwinian theory of atavism forecasted obstacles to human progress in the reappearance of throwback physical or cultural traits after several generations of absence. In this work, Dana Seitler explores the ways in which modernity itself is an atavism, shaping a historical and theoretical account of its dramatic rise and impact on Western culture and imagination.
Examining late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century science, fiction, and photography, Seitler discovers how modern thought oriented itself around this paradigm of obsolescence and return, one that served to sustain ideologies of gender, sexuality, and race. She argues that atavism was not only a discourse of violence, mapping racial and sexual divisions onto the boundary between human and animal, but was also an illustration of how modern science understood human being as a temporal category. On the one hand, atavism positioned some humans as more advanced than others on an evolutionary scale. On the other, it undermined such progressivism by suggesting that because all humans had evolved from animals they were therefore not purely human. Investigating the cultural logic of science in conjunction with naturalist, feminist, and popular narratives, Seitler exposes the influence of atavism: a fundamental shift in ways of knowing, and telling stories about, the modern human.
Josef ŠkvoreckýThe Engineer of Human Souls
Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1984
The Engineer of Human Souls was the first translated novel to win the Governor-General’s Award for fiction. A powerfully resonant epic novel, it bridges the Old World and the New, and ranges from 1939 to the present, from the Europe of the Second World War to contemporary North America. It is a key segment in Škvorecký’s multi-volume sequence of novels dealing with the history of his homeland from the revolution of 1848 (The Bride of Texas, Dvorak in Love) to the fall of the ‘the evil empire’ (Two Murders in My Double Life). More historical and political than Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time, it nevertheless has similar ambitions. The hero of the sequence, Danny Smiricky, is a Czech writer who fled his country in 1968 to find asylum in Canada in the sheltered world of Edenvale College in Toronto. His New World is an Eden which he sees with old world eyes: he is touched and exasperated by its political innocence, wryly amused by the hilarious counter-revolutionary schemes of his fellow Czechs, tormented by the Soviet secret agents who dog his footsteps, and not unreceptive to the flirtations of his prettiest students. At the same time, like all exiles and émigrés, he is undone by memories of a homeland as lost to him as his youth--of Nadia, the doomed factory girl who was his co-saboteur and, to his great surprise and astonished delight, his first lover; of his career as a skirt-chasing feckless hero of the Resistance in a small Bohemian town under Nazi occupation. These memories dovetail with countless others involving a large gallery of finely realized characters. This rich and complex montage is at once Danny’s story and the whole sorrowful history of East and West in the troubled middle years of the century. Beautifully told, The Engineer of Human Souls is a wise, funny, bawdy and marvellous novel. It is also one of the great historical novels of its time. As Milan Kundera wrote, ‘It marks an exceptional moment in history. A magnum opus in all respects.’ And he should know. He was there.
Josef ŠkvoreckýThe Bride of Texas: A Romantic Tale from the Real World
Alfred A. Knopf, 1994
Hailed on publication in the New York Times as ‘Škvorecký’s New World Symphony,’ The Bride of Texas is a magnificent novel of love in time of war and revolution, of freedom and tragedy, set against the rich, broad canvas of the American Civil War. At the heart of the novel is a little known fact of history: the formation of a militia by a motley band of Czech immigrants who took up the cause of freedom and fought, for a wide variety of reasons, under General William Tecumseh Sherman on his famous march across the South to Atlanta. Skvorecky takes the reader into a world of emigrés finding their way in a new homeland with the feudal chaos of the Hapsburg Empire in the era of European revolutions behind them; he evokes the panorama of American life in the mid-19th century, and the clashing armies of the Civil War with all its colour, sounds, smells, confusion, romance, tall tales and tragedy. At the novel’s core is a group of interrelated stories: the twin love stories of a brother and sister–Lida, new to Texas, young and lovely, who manoeuvres the plantation owner’s son into marrying her; and Cyril who falls in love with a black woman, Dinah, self-taught and aware but doomed by the inhuman system of slavery. Interwoven with these are the life stories of figures like Sergeant Kapsa, forced to flee Europe after killing his commanding officer with whose wife he was having an affair, and General Ambrose Burnside, famous for his whiskers, whose closing down of a Chicago newspaper first launched the battle over freedom of the press in time of war. The Bride of Texas is a teeming, romantic, epic novel that brings to life the swirl of events around the Civil War and the people whose lives were swept up in it and changed forever, as was their country. For those interested in Škvorecký’s body of work, it’s worth noting that The Bride of Texas is the earliest in a series of stories and novels that engage Czech life and history from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.
Josef ŠkvoreckýTwo Murders in My Double Life
Key Porter, 1999
Josef Škvorecký has always had an interest in mystery fiction. He has written essays about it, and he has been a mystery writer, best known for his series of stories and novels about Lieutenant Boruvka who appears both in Czechoslovakia and Canada.
Two Murders in My Double Life is set in Toronto at a university that resembles the one at which Škvorecký taught for two decades after his departure from Czechoslovakia in 1968. The semi-autobiographical narrator of this strikingly original and quietly experimental novel lives with amused and melancholy resignation in two worlds. His life with his wife Sidonia–loosely based on his wife the actress, editor and novelist Zdena Salivarova–among their fellow exiles and émigrés from ‘the country where we used to live’ is full of old feuds, loves, gossip and friendships that have survived wars, revolutions and exiles.
In his new life, the narrator is a professor of detective fiction at a small Canadian college, and he proves to be an arch observer of all the foibles and follies of higher learning: spoiled students and professors, petty professional rivalries, and self-serving political correctness.
When another professor’s husband is murdered, the narrator gets to hone his sleuthing skills by observing the hunt for the killer which features a young female policewoman, a scheming beauty queen, and a plethora of ‘the usual suspects.’
But this remarkable novel counterpoints these events to what is happening in Czechoslovakia after the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1989. The narrator has more on his mind than local politics and crime. In the aftermath of the political reforms in the old country, he and Sidonia find themselves battling for their reputations. A long-ago innocent lapse of judgment has now embroiled Sidonia in a controversy that is driving her into a deep depression. Their lives are entangled in an insidious web of lies whose source is in the old files of the security police of the now-fallen communist state.
This mystery novel is a brilliantly stylish tour the force, profoundly witty and darkly funny. It shows an international master at the height of his powers and producing a late masterpiece.
Prague BluesPrague Blues: The Fiction of Josef Škvorecký
ECW Press, 1988
Prague Blues is the first book-length study of the fiction of the Czech-Canadian writer Josef Skvorecky (b. 1924) who has been described by George Steiner in The New Yorker as ‘one of the major literary figures of our time’ and who won the Neustadt Prize in 1980 and was nominated for the Nobel Prize. This critical overview of Skvorecky’s career suggests that the novelist is a central figure not only in the literature of Central Europe but in the writing of the West, and that his novels, from the now classic The Cowards (1958) to The Miracle Game (1972) and the award-winning The Engineer of Human Souls (1977) constitute an irreplaceable fictional chronicle of the past half-century of European society and history. Solecki suggests that Skvorecky is essentially a comic and anti-political writer who, because of the irony of historical circumstances, developed almost against his will into an important political novelist. He argues that at the heart of the novelist’s comic and often satiric fiction is a fundamentally religious vision that offers a defence of the individual and of certain average human values against the dogmas of totalitarian ideologies. In this he writes in the tradition that includes Czeslaw Milosz and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. In addition to interpretations of the major novels and stories, Prague Blues contains a biographical chronicle of Skvorecky’s career.
Sam SoleckiRagas of Longing: The Poetry of Michael Ondaatje
University of Toronto Press, 2003
Ragas of Longing offers the first book-length study of Michael Ondaatje’s poetry and its place within his overall body of work. Relating the poetry to various poetic traditions from classical Sanskrit and Tamil to postmodern, the book presents a chronologically arranged critical reading of Ondaatje’s six volumes. Among the study’s concerns are the relationship between the poet’s life and work, his poetic debts and development, his theory of poetry and his central themes. It also includes close readings of Ondaatje’s monographs on Leonard Cohen and Edwin Muir, the Scots poet and critic. The book suggests that Ondaatje’s poetry can be seen as constituting a relatively cohesive personal canon that has evolved with each book building on its predecessors while simultaneously preparing the ground for its successor. The author argues that Ondaatje’s writing has a narrative unity and trajectory determined by crucial events in his life, especially the breakup of his family and his subsequent exile from his father and Ceylon. The result is a body of work whose vision is post-Christian, postmodern, and, despite an often humorous tone, fundamentally tragic.
Sam Solecki, ed.Yours, Al: The Collected Letters of Al Purdy
Harbour Publishing, 2004
Published four years after the poet’s death, Yours, Al can be read as an unexpurgated companion to his 1997 autobiography, Reaching for the Beaufort Sea, and his collected poems, Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy (2000). Like any body of interesting correspondence, they offer a perspective on the life and times of an individual from a viewpoint unavailable to anyone else. If, to quote the title of one of Purdy’s last books, No One Else Is Lawrence!, it is also true that no one else is quite like Purdy. And we read letters, whether Lawrence’s or Purdy’s, to encounter those very qualities that make him unique, or in Mary Wordsworth’s more figurative phrase, "to see the breathing of the inmost heart upon paper." What we discover are the various, sometimes contradictory aspects of a great writer’s self caught in the voices and personae of letters written to various people at different times and on different occasions. We get a more complex, almost cubist self-portrait in various styles and in nearly countless typefaces than we find in an autobiography (or biography). In Purdy’s case, the "picture" is the result of thousands of individual texts produced over a period of half a century and it illustrates Proust’s suggestion that "On ne se réalise que successivement," a notion that finds some incidental confirmation in Purdy’s uncertainty for many years in his letters and his books about his name: was he Alfred Wellington Purdy, Alfred W. Purdy, A.W. Purdy, Alfred Purdy or Al? In this fascinating collection we find Purdy in dialogue with individuals as different as Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Northrop Frye, Jack McClelland and Pierre Trudeau.
Paul Stevens and Viviana Comensoli, eds. and contributorsDiscontinuities: New Essays on Renaissance Literature and Criticism
University of Toronto Press, 1998
Over the past two decades there has been a generally recognized paradigm shift in the study of English Renaissance literature. Scholarly attention has moved from the individual to the social as the agent of literary production and the principal site of discussion. Genius is now far less likely to be invoked than discourse, culture, or ideology. The intellectual shift, routinely associated with new historicism, feminism, and cultural materialism, has been neither uncontested nor simple and uniform. The essays in this volume set out to identify, examine, and respond to these discontinuities, and in so doing attest to the extraordinary vitality of contemporary Renaissance studies. “This powerful collection of essays points to the limitations of historicism in a robust call for new theorizing of English Renaissance literary studies. Discontinuities offers a most compelling and subtle analysis of current modes of criticism in Renaissance studies” (Sharon Achinstein [Oxford]). “Exceptionally honest and provocative” (Comparative Drama ).
Paul Stevens and David Loewenstein, eds. and contributorsEarly Modern Nationalism and Milton’s England
University of Toronto Press, 2008
Despite John Milton’s intense political engagement and stirring defenses of the English Revolution, relatively little has been written on Milton’s patriotism, his concept of the nation and its relation to early modern nationalism. This book sets out to redress the balance. Informed by a range critical methods, its fifteen essays examine the complex expressions of nationhood and national identity in Milton’s writings in order to illuminate some of the crucial literary, ethnic, and civic dimensions of nationalism in general. The book’s argument falls into five sections: the representation of England as the peculiar locus of a “free people,” the nation and its church, ethnicity and international relations, nationalism and its discontents, and the nationalization of Milton. “This stunning volume immensely expands our understanding of Milton and early modern nationalism. It will be de rigueur reading for all those interested in the nation and nationalism from the early modern period to the twenty-first century” (Rachel Trubowitz [New Hampshire]). “Compelling and discriminating” (Nigel Smith [Princeton]).
Paul StevensImagination and the Presence of Shakespeare in ‘Paradise Lost’
University of Wisconsin Press, 1985
English literary history has long held that Milton renounced Shakespeare, and for some literary critics this meant the renunciation of the creative imagination. This work of criticism is the first extensive study to explore the influence of Shakespeare on Milton’s poetry and understanding of imagination. Stevens uncovers an unusual range of Shakespearean echoes in Paradise Lost and other works to substantiate his argument that Shakespeare functioned in Milton’s intellectual and psychic life as a symbol or type of the imagination and its potential for doing many things but most importantly for creating religious belief. “What is most valuable about this book, and most original, is the quite extraordinary way other texts, and especially the plays of Shakespeare, are used as the main instrument of exegesis” (Annabel Patterson [Yale]). “Stevens is a superb teacher of the way in which poetry should be read – must be read” (Joseph Wittreich [Graduate Center, CUNY]).
Rosemary SullivanVilla Air-Bel
HarperCollins and John Murray, 2006
The true story of a remarkable place and time and of a group of legendary artists, intellectuals, scientists, musicians, writers, philosophers, and political leaders who found shelter and sanity in a world turned murderous. France, 1940. The once glittering boulevards of Paris teem with spies, collaborators, and the Gestapo now that France has fallen to Hitler’s Wermacht. For André Breton, Max Ernst, Victor Serge, Marc Chagall, Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, Remedios Varo, Benjamin Péret, and scores of other cultural elite denounced as enemies of the Third Reich, fear and uncertainty define daily life. One wrong glance, one misplaced confidence could mean arrest, deportation, and death. Their only salvation is the Villa Air-Bel, a chateau outside Marseilles where a group of young people will go to extraordinary lengths to keep them alive. Financed by the Emergency Rescue Committee, a private American relief organization, unlikely heroes -- feisty graduate student Marian Davenport, Harvard-educated classical scholar Varian Fry, beautiful and compelling heiress Mary Jayne Gold, and brilliant young Socialist and survivor of the Battle of Dunkerque, Danny Bénédite as well as his British wife Theo -- cajole, outwit, and use every means possible to stave off the Nazis and newly-installed Vichy government officials circling closer with each passing day. The chateau was a vibrant artistic salon, home to lively debates and clandestine affairs, to Sunday art auctions and subversive surrealist games. Relationships within the house were tense and arguments were common, but the will to survive kept the covert operation under wraps. Beyond the chateau’s luscious façade war raged, yet hope reverberated within its halls. With the aid of their young rescuers, these diverse individuals, intense, brilliant, and utterly terrified, were able to survive one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century. Villa Air-Bel is a powerfully told, meticulously researched true story. Rosemary Sullivan explores the diaries, memoirs and letters of the individuals involved while uncovering their private worlds and the web of relationships they developed. Filled with suspense, drama and intrigue Villa Air-Bel is an excellent work of narrative nonfiction that delves into a fascinating albeit hidden saga in our recent history.
Black Moss Press, November 2011.
Deep under the ground lived a little mole named Molito. His fur was brown, the colour of burnt toast. His eyes were as yellow as the sun. Molito
is a story about friendship. One day in the underground park, Molito meets an ant named Carlota who tells him about the mysterious place she lives in, called the upperworld. Molito sets out on his journey to discover what that world is. Molito
is written by Rosemary Sullivan and Juan Opitz, and illustrated by Rosemary’s sister Colleen Sullivan. The Chilean Canadian musician Nano Valverde has composed music to accompany the story narrated by Rosemary Sullivan. A CD of music and story will be included in the sleeve of the book.
Music composed and performed by Nano Valverde. Zampoña and kena played by Claudia Saldivia. Narration by Rosemary Sullivan. Produced, recorded and mastered by Juan Opitz, The HeadRoom Productions, Canada. (from Black Moss Press)
Cheryl Suzack, Shari Huhndorf, Jeanne Perreault, and Jean Barman, eds. and contributors Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture
University of British Columbia Press, 2010
*Awarded the 2012 Canadian Women's Studies Association (CWSA/ACEF) Outstanding Scholarship Prize*
Can the specific concerns of Indigenous women be addressed within current mainstream feminist and post-colonial discussions? Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture
proposes that a dynamic new line of inquiry -- Indigenous feminism -- is necessary to truly engage with the crucial issues of cultural identity, nationalism, and decolonization particular to Indigenous contexts.
Through the lenses of politics, activism, and culture, this wide-ranging collection examines the historical roles of Indigenous women, their intellectual and activist work, and the relevance of contemporary literature, art, and performance for an emerging Indigenous feminist project. The questions at the heart of these essays -- What is at stake in conceptualizing Indigenous feminism? How does feminism relate to Indigenous claims to land and sovereignty? What lessons can we learn from the past? How do Indigenous women engage ongoing violence and social and political marginalization? -- cross disciplinary, national, academic, and activist boundaries to explore in depth the unique political and social positions of Indigenous women.
"A much needed and important addition to the scholarship of the Indigenous renaissance, this collection illuminates the effects of the colonial experience and contemporary politics, culture, and activism on Indigenous women’s lives." (Marie Battiste [University of Saskatchewan])
“Power and purpose drive this crucial, timely, and extraordinarily valuable collection” (Kathryn Shanley [University of Montana]).
Syme, Holger Schott
Theatre and Testimony in Shakespeare's England: A Culture of Mediation
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, December 2011
Holger Syme presents a radically new explanation for the theater's importance in Shakespeare's time. He portrays early modern England as a culture of mediation, dominated by transactions in which one person stood in for another, giving voice to absent speakers or bringing past events to life. No art form related more immediately to this culture than the theater. Arguing against the influential view that the period underwent a crisis of representation, Syme draws upon extensive archival research in the fields of law, demonology, historiography and science to trace a pervasive conviction that testimony and report, delivered by properly authorized figures, provided access to truth. Through detailed close readings of plays by Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare - in particular Volpone
, Richard II
and The Winter's Tale
- and analyses of criminal trial procedures, the book constructs a revisionist account of the nature of representation on the early modern stage.
Excerpts to be found here: http://www.dispositio.net/archives/606 Advance Praise:
"While Shakespeare critics debate the merits of text versus performance, page versus stage, Holger Schott Syme's powerful new study argues for attending the relationship between the two. Early modern English law and theater both derive their lively oral evocations from written imitations of speech; in tracking this shared dependence on a scripted illusion of voice and presence, Syme offers original and unexpected insights into a broad range of dramatic and legal fictions, from comedies and romances to treason trials."
- Lorna Hutson, University of St Andrews
"Theatre and Testimony
is a masterful survey of how, against prevailing historicist and theoretical arguments on the writing and culture of this period, the Elizabethan and Jacobean world established multiple forms of authority, in particular in the fields of law and theater, through strategies which relied on mediation, circulation, and the multiplication of sources. Syme's analyses are profoundly revisionary, wonderfully original, even contrarian, and supported by a wealth of careful detail and intelligent and subtle readings. It is hard to overstate the extent to which his argument requires a revision of the way literary scholars since 1980 and the rise of New Historicism have seen Tudor and Stuart culture. This may be one of those rare books that makes scholars reconsider what has become received wisdom about early modern performance and its means of authorization."
- William N. West, Northwestern University
Syme, Holger Schott Locating the Queen’s Men, 1583-1603: Material Practices and Conditions of Playing
Ed. Helen Ostovich, Holger Schott Syme, and Andrew Griffin Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009
Locating the Queen's Men
presents new and groundbreaking essays on early modern England's most prominent acting company, from their establishment in 1583 into the 1590s. Offering a far more detailed critical engagement with the plays than is available elsewhere, this volume situates the company in the theatrical and economic context of their time.
The essays gathered here focus on four different aspects: playing spaces, repertory, play-types, and performance style, beginning with essays devoted to touring conditions, performances in university towns, London inns and theatres, and the patronage system under Queen Elizabeth. Repertory studies, unique to this volume, consider the elements of the company's distinctive style, and how this style may have influenced, for example, Shakespeare's Henry V
. Contributors explore two distinct genres, the morality and the history play, especially focussing on the use of stock characters and on male/female relationships.
Revising standard accounts of late Elizabeth theatre history, this collection shows that the Queen's Men, often understood as the last rear-guard of the old theatre, were a vital force that enjoyed continued success in the provinces and in London, representative of the abiding appeal of an older, more ostentatiously theatrical form of drama. Reviews:
‘Locating the Queen’s Men, 1583–1603
is a vital and expansive contribution to repertory studies and serves as a microcosmic representation of current interests in the scholarship of early modern drama.’ Shakespeare
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