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A quest for unification with the divine: Crashaw’s Teresa Poems “A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa” and “The Flaming Heart”

Abstract

As a metaphysical poet, Richard Crashaw (1613-1649) is recognized for his stylistic experimentation and deep religious faith. In the course of his short life, he became a fellow at Cambridge, was later introduced to Queen Henrietta Marie, Charles I’s wife, in France after his exile during the Interregnum, converted to Catholicism from Anglicanism and was highly influenced by Baroque poetry and the martyrdom of St. Teresa of Avila in his style and themes. He is a poet with a “most holy, humble and genuine soul” and in the last six years of his life, which coincided with a period of great crisis in both personal and professional spheres, he worked intensively on the religious phase of his literary career (Shepherd 1914, p. 1). He reflected his devotion to St. Teresa and to God in his religious poems. Within this context, this study analyses Crashaw’s two Teresian poems, “A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa” and “The Flaming Heart” featuring the themes of the quest for divine love and unification with the divine along with Crashaw’s divergence from other metaphysical poets, his affection for the European style(s), and his religious views concerning both his country and other countries in Europe.

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The trauma of condemnation and the embellishment of an illegitimate child as a source of regeneration in Lizzie Leigh and Ruth

Abstract

This paper focuses on Mrs Gaskell’s treatment of the erring girl in Lizzie Leigh (1850) and Ruth (1853) and the new elements that she introduces which brand the treatment as different. Contrary to her Victorian contemporaries, Mrs Gaskell stresses the role of religion, the use of biblical quotations on the treatment of the sinner, and the role of motherhood. The paper also shows how Mrs Gaskell makes the illegitimate child an incentive towards repentance and hope of reclamation. Through her motherly love and devotion to her child, a mother rises and grows in character and faith. Moreover, the paper demonstrates Mrs Gaskell’s condemnation of the falsity of the traditional taxonomy of “illegitimate” or “fallen”, and her assertion that social value lies in the inherent properties within the individual. It also highlights how she makes forgiveness for the sinner a duty which society has to fulfil, and maintains that if the charitable and the kind are forced “to lie” because of the existing social and moral attitudes, then it is imperative that they should be changed so that “lies” are unnecessary. It concludes by investigating the stormy reception and the controversy it created among readers.

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Animal transformation as a deserved punishment in archnarratives

Abstract

The present study is devoted to the transformation of protagonists into animals in ancient narratives (myths, magical stories, legends, etc.) from various cultures and continents (Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia). The aim of this research is to determine in what situations and subject-motive combinations the main protagonist transforms into an animal as a part or consequence of his/her fair/well-deserved punishment. We will also attempt to conceptually grasp the archetypal meaning of the existential transformation into an animal, which is directly related to human thinking and (sacral and profane) way of life.

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Morality and values in Pavel Vilikovský’s The Autobiography of Evil

Abstract

Morality is often referred to as the code of conduct of society. This code determines what is considered correct behaviour and enforces values society deems beneficial. Values themselves are protected by laws and social or moral norms. Authors combine all the mentioned concepts and convey them through the actions taken or not taken by characters. Their writings provide the reader with characters’ motivations, reasoning and try to line them up with a final judgment – to see whether individual morals and values line up with the ones upheld by the rest of society. When dealing with morality in narratives of pain and trauma, the objective is then not only to analyse the protagonists’ psyche but also consider societal pressures. The focus of our analysis lies in Pavel Vilikovský’s novel The Autobiography of Evil, in which the author depicts morally sound characters becoming morally ambiguous while living in an oppressively authoritarian political system. Our aim is to explore the pain and trauma of Jozef K. whose moral core is affected by blackmail and threats. His actions are misguided and they perpetuate the cycle of violence instead of stopping it.

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The silent world of Reinaldo Arenas’s novels

Abstract

The paper focuses on the life and poetics of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, an important representative of Cuban gay literature, who, due to his sexual orientation and eventual opposition to the Revolution, was silenced by the Cuban government and exposed to continual threats. His novels, which depict the hardship of and discrimination against ordinary people and gay members of Cuban society (for example Old Rosa and Farewell to the Sea), reveal also signs of the deep trauma that the writer suffered and its impact on his writing.

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The suffering of existence in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

Abstract

This paper deals with the British dystopian novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, in which human clones are forced to donate their organs in an alternate reality set in 1990s England. Through the characters of the novel, various manifestations of suffering are examined from the viewpoint of existentialism. The whole concept of donation might be understood as a metaphorical expression for human life, as well as the omnipresent consciousness of its finitude. Ishiguro has prepared the ground for disturbing discussion where two ostensibly different groups of people – clones, whose only purpose is to donate their vital organs, and “normal people” as the recipients – suddenly appear to be indistinguishable in terms of mortality and the general experience of human existence. This paper focuses on the concept of existential anguish in the context of the novel’s story. Using an unobtrusive science fiction narrative, Never Let Me Go encourages readers to contemplate the essence, meaning and purpose of human life, and it quietly points to topics that are usually treated as highly sensitive: the inevitability of death and apparent absurdity of human existence.

Open access
Traumatized selves in Janice Galloway’s The Trick Is to Keep Breathing and A. L. Kennedy’s Night Geometry and the Garscadden Trains

Abstract

This paper presents the case of Scotland as a traumatized nation haunted by ghosts of the past. Scottish national identity has been profoundly influenced by the country’s loss of sovereignty in the 1707 Act of Union. As a result, the stateless nation deprived of agency built its literature on the foundations of idealized stories of its heroic past. It was not until the 1980s that Scottish literature started to tackle the collective trauma and gave rise to works focusing on the weak and the exploited rather than the brave. Janice Galloway and A. L. Kennedy both epitomize this new vein of literature of trauma and explore the links between national and individual experience and strategies for healing the trauma.

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What punishments of God are not gifts?” The meaning of suffering in Tolkien’s life and work

Abstract

J. R. R. Tolkien, as somebody who experienced a difficult early life as an orphan and then as a World War I soldier, endured enough trauma and suffering in his life for it to become a significant element in almost all of his fictional works. This paper explores Tolkien’s understanding of the effects of suffering in human life, which was shaped by his religious belief. He presents pain as an inevitable and essential part of the nature of the Fallen World; yet while it may seem at first as a form of punishment, if treated appropriately, it turns into a powerful means of achieving personal or societal salvation.

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Foreign in London: Diaspora as a traumatic experience in Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners

Abstract

Stuart Hall in Black Britain claims that “the experience of black settlement has been a long, difficult, sometimes bitterly contested and unfinished story.” Such is the case in Samuel Selvon’s 1956 novel The Lonely Londoners, which depicts the trauma of diaspora for West Indian newcomers. People from the Caribbean who settle in the “mother country” experience total disillusion because they are not welcomed by the white British. The paper focuses on the influence British politics has had upon the Windrush generation of immigrants. It shows how the characters cope with animosity, loneliness and the sense of failed promise that all lead to the traumatic experience of living in total isolation in a foreign city far from their native islands. The immigrants face xenophobia, suffer from being the “other”, invisible and segregated. They try to cope with the trauma of “not belonging anywhere”, i.e. being uprooted from their homes in the West Indies. In the aftermath of the decolonization process they fail to come to terms with their new living conditions, and as there is no return ticket to the Caribbean, they experience the ever-growing trauma of unsuccessful resettlement.

Open access
Hate crime trauma and pain: Affiliation, becoming and in-Betweenness in The Laramie Project

Abstract

Tectonic Theater Project’s documentary/verbatim theatre work entitled The Laramie Project charts the intricacies of the process of a hate crime victim’s search for and acquisition of identity (becoming) and the concurrent success and failure of the community to engage in this process (affiliation). The productions, as well as the film version, of The Laramie Project tackle the crucial importance of understanding the grey area between the state of becoming (part of) something and being excluded from it (in-betweenness). This liminality, reflecting Victor Turner’s illustrious ideas of “betwixt and between”, shall serve to explore The Laramie Project as an attempt to show the facets of social and cultural affiliation and becoming, as well as an instrument to put them to use in socially and politically relevant theatre. The paper will seek to show how Tectonic Theater Project’s work scrutinizes the significance of “in-betweenness” and employs it to communicate a message that is both humanistic and aesthetic.

Open access