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Abstract

Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel A Pale View of Hills (1982) represents both trauma and migration as continuous processes rather than finite stages in the life of Etsuko, the novel’s protagonist. This essay focuses on the ways in which trauma is narrated in the novel, arguing that in representing the protagonist’s life, Ishiguro mimics the narrative strategies used by trauma survivors. Written from the point of view of an unreliable narrator, the novel is a discontinuous narrative marked by indeterminacy and ambiguity, which “travels” from Britain to Japan and back, and which evinces biographical gaps and uncertainties that blur the boundary between Etsuko’s past and present, making it impossible for her to fully cross that boundary. The parallels between her life and the life of her friend Sachiko as well as her dubious narration, a consequence of creating a false version of traumatic events as a protective measure against their impact, serve to emphasize the incompleteness of both her migration and her story.

Abstract

This article attempts to describe the Polish-American Friends Movement (PAIFM) in the context of cultural appropriation. It first describes the history of the movement by linking it to the phenomenon of playing Indian, which started in the United States in the colonial period and then was transplanted to Europe in the late 19th century. Subsequently, it briefly presents the history of the Polish hobbyism movement in Poland, pointing out the historical, social, and psychological circumstances of its development. In the next part it defines the concept of cultural appropriation and its main types according to James Young (2010). The last part is devoted to a detailed analysis of different forms of activities of the PAIFM, especially the annual week gathering, as observed by the author during the 40th gathering of Polish Indian enthusiasts in 2016. Different types of cultural appropriation and an array of consequences resulting from such a positioning are discussed. In this paper it is argued that the negative undertones of the concept obscure the complexity of the movement as a cultural phenomenon and its multiple links with Native American cultures and their present political and cultural situation.

Abstract

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go lures readers into a dystopic world that has the artifice of a country boarding school. When the characters to which readers have become attached are revealed to be clones raised for organ harvesting, the novel forces the readers to confront questions about what it means to be human, and at what cost humanity is willing to preserve itself. In this science fiction narrative about cloning, Ishiguro invokes multiple representations of the disabled body: the clones have been created, to ameliorate disability from the rest of society. Their organs are harvested to forestall the inevitable disabilities that the ailing or aging body will experience. The novel also replicates the social apparatuses that have traditionally been used to contain and eliminate disability. Reading Ishiguro’s narrative of cloning from a disability studies perspective reveals the novel’s use of defamiliarization as a literary technique to examine both the ideological constructions of disability and the physical structures that have contained disabled bodies during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Finally, approaching Never Let Me Go from this critical perspective reveals the novel’s answer to the central question it poses: What does it mean to be human?

Abstract

Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road (2005) and Gerald Vizenor’s Blue Ravens (2014) offer literary representations of the Great War combined with life narratives focusing on the personal experiences of Indigenous soldiers. The protagonists’ lives on the reservations, which illustrate the experiences of racial discrimination and draw attention to power struggles against the White dominance, provide a representation of and a response to the experiences of Indigenous peoples in North America. The context of World War I and the Aboriginal contributions to American and Canadian wartime responses on European battlefields are used in the novels to take issue with the historically relevant changes. The research focus of this paper is to discuss two strategies of survival presented in Boyden’s and Vizenor’s novels, which enable the protagonists to process, understand, and overcome the trauma of war.

Abstract

In this essay, Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Bewilderment Trilogy” is read as a series of Bildungsromane that test the limits of that genre. In these thematically unrelated novels, characters reach critical points in their lives when they are confronted with the ways in which their respective childhoods have shaped their grownup expectations and professional careers. In each, the protagonist has a successful career, whether as a musician (The Unconsoled), a detective (When We Were Orphans), or a carer (Never Let Me Go), but finds it difficult to overcome childhood trauma. Ishiguro’s treatment of childhood in these novels foregrounds the tension between individual subjectivity and the formal strictures and moral rigors of socialisation. In this respect, he comes close to modernist narratives of becoming, particularly James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Narrative strategies such as epiphanies and the control of distance and tropes such as boarding schools and journeys to foreign lands provide the analytical coordinates of my comparative study. While raising the customary questions of the Bildungsroman concerning socialisation and morality, I argue, Ishiguro manipulates narration very carefully in order to maintain a non-standard yet meaningful gap between his protagonists’ understanding of their lives and the reader’s.

Abstract

This essay analyzes the children’s imaginative play in Kazuo Ishiguro’s various novels, with a special focus on Never Let Me Go. Children often engage in various types of repetitive imaginative play, acting out stories about things that do not actually exist in order to avoid the pain of confronting their problems. An exploration of children’s play and the roles performed by the guardians and Madam helps us read the novel from a new perspective – the Mujo view of Buddhism. Mujo is the Buddhist philosophy which describes “the impermanence of all phenomena.” In Never Let Me Go, shadows of death weigh heavily on the reader as an unavoidable reminder of the nature of life. This brings Mujo to the Japanese readers’ minds. The Mujo view of Buddhism has imbued Japanese literature since the Kamakura Era (1185), and a reading of Never Let Me Go from the Mujo perspective sheds light on the condition of its protagonists. My analysis aims to introduce the Mujo doctrine to anglophone literary studies by foregrounding the poignancy and resilience found in Never Let Me Go.

Abstract

In Italy, over the last decades, both the Left and the Right have repeatedly employed American Indians as political icons. The Left and the Right, that is, both adopted and adapted certain real or often outright invented features of American Indian culture and history to promote their own ideas, values, and political campaigns. The essay explores how well-established stereotypes such as those of the ecological Indian, the Indian as victim, and the Indian as fearless warrior, have often surfaced in Italian political discourse. The “Indiani Metropolitani” student movement resorted to “Indian” imagery and concepts to rejuvenate the languages of the old socialist and communist left, whereas the Right has for the most part preferred to brandish the Indian as an image of a bygone past, threatened by modernization and, especially, by immigration. Indians are thus compared to contemporary Europeans, struggling to resist being invaded by “foreign” peoples. While both the Left and the Right reinvent American Indians for their own purposes, and could be said to practice a form of cultural imperialism, the essay argues that the Leftist appropriations of the image of the Indian were always marked by irony. Moreover, while the Right’s Indians can be seen as instances of what Walter Benjamin (1969) described as Fascism’s aestheticization of politics, groups like the Indiani Metropolitani tried to politicize the aesthetics.

Abstract

In this paper I discuss the ways in which Bruce Baillie’s Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964) and Quixote (1965) evoke Native American Indian heritage and western-hero road poems by challenging the concept of the American landscape and incorporating conventions traditionally associated with cinéma pur, cinéma vérité, and the city symphony. Both pictures, seen as largely ambiguous and ironic travelogue forms, expose their audiences to “the sheer beauty of the phenomenal world” (Sitney 2002: 182) and nurture nostalgic feelings for the lost indigenous civilizations, while simultaneously reinforcing the image of an American conquistador, hence creating a strong sense of dialectical tension. Moreover, albeit differing in a specific use of imagery and editing, the films rely on dense, collage-like and often superimposed images, which clearly contribute to the complexity of mood conveyed on screen and emphasize the striking conceptual contrast between white American and Indian culture. Taking such an assumption, I argue that although frequently referred to as epic road poems obliquely critical of the U.S. westward expansion and manifest destiny, the analyzed works’ use of plot reduction, observational and documentary style as well as kinaesthetic visual modes and rhythmic editing derive primarily from the cinéma pur’s camerawork, the cinéma vérité’s superstructure, and the city symphony’s spatial arrangement of urban environments. Such multifaceted inspirations do not only diversify Mass’ and Quixote’s non-narrative aesthetics, but also help document an intriguing psychogeography of the 1960s American landscapes, thus making a valuable contribution to the history of experimental filmmaking dealing with Native American Indian heritage.