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On Mystical Metamorphosis in Christianity and Islam: Dante’s Divine Comedy and Rumi’s Masnavi in Comparative Perspective

Abstract

Journey emerges in multiple faces in literature. But when this substantial subset of quests adopts the mystical aspect, it creates a mystery that triggers the discovery sense in human beings. The present article develops a comparative analysis on the complex nature of mystical metamorphosis as expressed in two of the most influential writings of the East and West: Rumi’s Masnavi and Dante’s Divine Comedy. The first part discusses the concept of mysticism and poetry, and reveals the nature of their connection. The second part of this work investigates the historical setting of Dante’s and Rumi’s lives in relation to the social environment of the time. The last part emphasizes the idea of mystical metamorphosis as expressed in the Divine Comedy and Masnavi through two fundamental vehicles: love and faith. This work demonstrates how, in a world rife with wars and misery, mysticism provides a vital key to building a strong bridge between Islam and Christianity, and on a larger scale, to metamorphosizing the “clash of civilizations” into a “confluence of civilizations”.

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Phototextuality as a Phenomenon of Present-Day British Prose

Abstract

Like many other world literatures, the English literature of the last few decades has been marked by an intensive search for new narrative techniques, for innovative ways and means of arranging a plot and portraying characters. The search has resulted, among other things, into merging literature with visual arts like painting, film and photography. This phenomenon got the name of ekphrasis and has become a popular field of literary research lately.

Suffice it to cast a glance at several of the novels published around the year 2000 to see that incorporation of photographic images into fiction allows writers to use new means of organizing literary texts, to employ non-conventional devices of structuring a plot and delineating personages as well as to pose various problems of aesthetic, ethical, ideological nature.

We suggest to look briefly at seven novels published in the last three decades to see the various roles assigned to photography by their authors: Out of this World (1988) by Graham Swift, Ulverton (1992) by Adam Thorpe, Master Georgie (1998) by Beryl Bainbridge, The Dark Room (2001) by Rachel Seiffert, The Photograph (2003) by Penelope Lively, Double Vision (2003) by Pat Barker and The Rain Before It Falls (2007) by Jonathan Coe.

The scenes of the novels are set widely apart and have time spans of various duration. Ulverton and Master Georgie have a mid-19th century setting, The Dark Room is centered round WWII, Out of this World and The Rain before It Falls contain their heroes’ long life stories, while The Photograph and Double Vision are set at the end of the last century and their characters are our contemporaries. The novels also differ by the particular place photographs occur in the novels, by the roles they play there, as well as by the issues associated with them.

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Popularization and/or Trivialization of Philosophy in Voltaire's Narrative Candide or Optimism

Abstract

Voltaire produced his works within the literary-historical period of Classicism and Enlightenment, in which the prevalent role of literature was educational. The period also dictated what genre, theme, style and structure authors should follow. However, more and more changes of literary genres appear, and the process of stratification of literature into high and trivial takes place. The aim of this paper is to describe the polarization of two mutually different processes involved in the literary shaping of Voltaire's philosophical narrative Candide or Optimism. In Voltaire's narrative, the popularization of philosophy, in order to simplify and illuminate the philosophical writings of G. W. Leibniz, results in the changes of style and content that become understandable to the general readership since they work within the scheme of an adventure novel. In this process, trivialization does not affect only the genre, but is also present in other parts of literary analysis and interpretation such as the theme, motifs, structure, characterization, narrative techniques, stylistic features, and so on.

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Proust - the Scientist

Abstract

Proust was not only a French writer, but - based on his incredible scientific knowledge and descriptions in his novel - to some extent, a neurologist and psychologist. Far ahead of his time, Proust illustrated in his masterpiece In Search of Lost Time a link between personal memories and sensory stimuli. In his novels, he explains the mechanism of memory retrieval after perceiving a sensation.

Without a doubt the most famous scene of In Search of Lost Time remains the moment when the taste of a French pastry, called “madeleine,” rekindles the childhood memories of the narrator Marcel in the first volume Swann’s Way. Similarly, listening to Vinteuil’s Sonata triggers and maintains Swann’s love for Odette and its expression in the second volume of the masterpiece In Search of Lost Time.

His descriptions reveal that human senses are not only linked to personal memories, but may also trigger them. Moreover, contemporary studies in the biological field have shown that there are correlations between stimuli and intangible feelings and states of mind, such as love, hatred, and sympathy, primarily located in the amygdala of the human brain.

Reading Proust’s masterpiece In Search of Lost Time through the lens of current neurological studies opens an interesting and innovative perspective on the subject of memory retrieval and shows that he was not “only” a writer, but also an observational scientist.

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Text and Image in Translation

Abstract

The primary objective of the following paper is the analysis of selected issues related to the translation of comic books. The paper aims at investigating the relationships between the text and the image and their implications in the process of translation. It reflects on the status of the translation of comics/graphic novels - a still largely unexploited area within Translation Studies and briefly presents a definition and specificity of the genre. Moreover, it discusses Jakobson’s (1971) tripartite distinction into interlinguistic, intralinguistic and intersemiotic translation. The paper concludes with the analysis of certain issues associated with the Polish translation of V like Vendetta by Alan Moore, a text that is copious with intertextual and cultural references.

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“Which is the Merchant and which is the Jew?” a Žižekian Reading of the Jewish Question in The Merchant of Venice

Abstract

This essay borrows Žižek’s interpretation of racism which combines the Marxist and psychoanalytic perspectives to read Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. I argue that Shylock, the Jewish usurer, embodies both the structural contradiction of capitalism and the social contradiction which characterizes the Venetian setting torn by capitalism and Christianity. As Shylock exposes these contradictions which the Christian Venetians refuse to confront, he is destined to be a scapegoat. From the Marxist point of view, the survival of capitalism relies on incessant production, which also means incessant investment of capital. Therefore, an active financial system is requisite to sustain the prosperity of capitalism. Paradoxically, this necessary condition of capitalism which facilitates the maximum use of cash is also its inherent vulnerability: once the circulation of cash is disrupted, it can lead to the crisis of the overall domino-effect collapse. The usury represented by Shylock indeed reflects such inherent contradiction of capitalism. Also, usury, which excludes any human factor and only engages the direct monetary exchange, also contradicts the Christian orthodox belief of generosity and unrequited devotion. These central Christian values are certainly questioned as Bassanio’s courtship of Portia, based on his disguised wealth, is indistinguishable from a profitable enterprise. From the psychoanalytic point of view, Shylock’s fascination with money and revenge also mirrors the Christians’ clandestine longing for these two forbidden enjoyments. However, what is more puzzling and hostile to the Christians is Shylock’s paranoid insistence on bloody revenge beyond the concern of monetary gains, “che vuoi,” an unexplainable desire of the other. Therefore, Shylock the other must be vanquished, by converting him to Christianity, in other words, by homogenizing him, to disguise the Christians’ problematic of desire.

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Anne Sexton’s Confessional Tradition and Individual Talent

Abstract

In his influential essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” T. S. Eliot emphasizes the significance of tradition as well as the inevitability of the present talent of the artist. He argues that every artist has his own original and individual themes and techniques that separate him from and link him with his predecessors at the same time. Anne Sexton, the Confessional American woman poet, is a good example that proves this everlasting notion of the allusion to “the dead poets” of the past together with the inevitable existence of the innovative original talent of the poet. Chiefly, Sexton is labeled “Confessional” and is compared with the most remarkable Confessional poets. However, the Confessional mode is not a new movement; it has its roots in the British tradition of the Metaphysical lyrics. It is also manifest in the American tradition of Puritan Poetry. Moreover, Confessional themes and techniques can be seen in the poetry of some Modernists. Meanwhile, Anne Sexton’s exceptional Confessional “individual talent” makes her a unique Confessional poet: the uncommon imperfect raw confessions, the unconventional bold sexual imagery, the fearful and astonishing religious symbols and the excessive degrees of “impersonality” are all characteristic examples of Sexton’s creative Confessional art.

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Changing Role of Indian Woman: A Glimpse into Two Bollywood Movies English – Vinglish and Queen

Abstract

Bollywood, being one of the biggest film industries of India, is an interesting area of research to understand the socio-cultural perspectives of today’s India. My paper will focus on the changing role of Indian woman. It will argue if the change is merely superficial or the Indian woman has been successful to negotiate with and challenge the patriarchal social structure. These multiple issues will be discussed with special reference to two of the latest Bollywood movies, namely, English-Vinglish and Queen.

The focus on these two movies is because both concentrate on emancipation of woman. Sashi, the central character of English-Vinglish, despite facing all kinds of humiliation in her own family and finally learning English (her inability to speak in English being one of the primary reasons for her being ridiculed in her family) comes back to her family at the end. Queen showcases a different kind of emancipation where Rani, the leading lady of the movie, being dumped by her fiancé, decides to go for her honeymoon trip all by herself and recognises herself anew.

These two movies are examples of the changing role of woman who does not need a male to rescue her from danger or to console her in her tears. She is a self-sufficient woman who does not forget her roots. Both the movies generate thought-provoking questions about the status of woman in present India and can be employed as lenses to see through the multiple layers of the gendered Indian society.

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The Discreet Horror of the Holocaust in Ida Fink’s Stories

Abstract

The topic of the article is writings by Ida Fink. It analyses stories of the author of Wiosna 1941 (The Spring 1941) which refer to the Holocaust. The analysis also draws attention to the poetics of “discreet horror” in which Ida Fink’s stories are embedded. In her records the author does not underline the cruelty, but shows the terror of the situation by subtle narrative and compositional manoeuvres. The picture of death is de-emphasised by the psychology of characters, and the main focus are complicated human relationships in which the author with a great delicacy presents various emotional states of people who, despite being sentenced to death, still try to survive the war.

Ida Fink’s stories are different from the majority of Holocaust literature which exposes the severity and brutality of mass death. These stories stand out as an exceptional phenomenon among works by such authors as Tadeusz Borowski, Zofia Nałkowska, Leon Buczkowski, Henryk Grynberg or Bogdan Wojdowski.

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