The purpose of this essay is to capture and convey, through the use of different works of philosophy that encapsulate thoughts on the same idea, the motif of the absurdity of life in Ernest Hemingway’s first novel The Sun Also Rises. The concept of the absurd will be, first and foremost, examined through absurdist criticism of the novel, using the philosophical thought of Albert Camus, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche and other philosophers who captured the essence of the absurd in their philosophy, all in order to represent this concept in Hemingway’s novel and to show how it truly manifests itself upon some of the most important characters’ psychology and their actions, portrayed throughout the three parts of the book. Mention will be made of the concept of “Lost generation” as it is the cornerstone to understanding, firstly, the characters’ background and current psychological status and the effects that the war had on an entire generation, leading them to an unwilling search for meaning in what this essay strives to present as a meaningless life.
Ellen Glasgow’s works have received, over time, a mixed interpretation, from sentimental and conventional, to rebellious and insightful. Her novel In This Our Life (1941) allows the reader to have a glimpse of the early twentieth-century South, changed by the industrial revolution, desperately clinging to dead codes, despairing and struggling to survive. The South is reflected through the problems of a family, its sentimentality and vulnerability, but also its cruelty, pretensions, masks and selfishness, trying to find happiness and meaning in a world of traditions and codes that seem powerless in the face of progress. The novel, apparently simple and reduced in scope, offers, in fact, a deep insight into various issues, from complicated family relationships, gender pressures, racial inequality to psychological dilemmas, frustration or utter despair. The article’s aim is to depict, through this novel, one facet of the American South, the “aristocratic” South of belles and cavaliers, an illusory representation indeed, but so deeply rooted in the world’s imagination. Ellen Glasgow is one of the best choices in this direction: an aristocratic woman but also a keen and profound writer, and, most of all, a writer who loved the South deeply, even if she exposed its flaws.
The essay entitled “Food Imagery in Lesley Saunders’ Poetry” expands upon various food issues that will be approached via Gaston Bachelard’s aesthetic theory which situates us in the proximity of a sensible point of objectivity further enlarged upon from a phenomenological perspective that merges the exterior substantiality of food with the reality of imagination. The acquired intimate connotations of the poetess’ food environment are tackled in terms of the inner/outer opposition and the Platonic dialectics that involves old versus new, good versus evil, plenty versus scarcity, revealing the dynamic virtues of “roots,” the emblem of the diversity of food. Our approach to the house, where various types of food are being prepared, in relation to its pivotal functions of dwelling, preparing food and sharing it, turns both the house and food into the unfailing communality and sociality constructs of all places and ages.
This essay studies scenes that focus on food and eating in the films Chocolat (2000) and I Served the King of England (Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále, 2006). To assess whether or not they constitute food porn we compare and contrast such scenes with the description of an unwholesome recipe for cannibalistic eating in Titus Andronicus, which anticipates our contemporary food obsession. At its most basic (and controversial), food porn names the alluring visualisation of certain foodstuffs, which renders food the object of erotically tinged desire. Serving different purposes in the two films, such eroticisation of food can be more than self-referential insofar as it indicates human interactions framed as power relations. Showing chocolate making and eating, in Chocolat, actually visualises a woman’s exertion of power over the women and their husbands in a bigoted French village in 1959, intended to awaken the people’s benumbed desire. Not food proper is the object of desire in the Czech film, but the young woman served up as ocular side dish to the moguls dining in a stylish Prague restaurant before the outburst of WWII. By contrast, food eroticisation is completely absent in Shakespeare; at stake is a verbal (and implicitly visual) concern with the transformation of flesh and body parts into ingredients for seemingly festive consumption. Visualising food, in Titus, implicitly visualises the reclaim and exertion of power in the fictional Roman polity. In all these cases, the concern with food vectorises power relations and may fluidise gendered hierarchies, an issue which food porn scholarship rarely addresses.
This essay aims to discuss the ideological aspects of memory loss as a reconstruction of personal and collective memory with reference to several Hollywood movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Memento and Everything Is Illuminated. The essay explores the construction of memory within a network of power relations and the profound influence that the reproduction of memory has on the embodiment of personal identities. The unreliability of human memory has been a major issue in philosophical debates and works of art from early Greek philosophy to cyberpunk novels. Memory studies draw on a wide range of academic fields varying from neuroscience to political science, with an emphasis on prosthetic memories, identity and body politics, displaced cultural identities, and consumer culture. Often intermingled with collective narratives, memory is an ideological artifact or rather a form of language that can be institutionally manipulated or manufactured. The mass production of personal and collective memories further deprives human beings of control over their personal histories and identity constructions. In this regard, this article elaborates the formation, reinforcement, and reconstruction of memory in contemporary culture with particular references to the inclusion of hegemony, cultural politics, and identity politics in selected movies.
This article shows that the Booker Prize for fiction, which is neither the oldest nor the richest award given for novels in English, is nevertheless widely conceded to be the pre-eminent recognition. Sometimes it is called the “most significant”; sometimes the “most famous”; ultimately these two qualities are inseparable. I canvass some of the explanations for the Booker’s position as top prize and argue that the most important reasons are Publicity, Flexibility, and Product Placement. The Booker has managed its public image skillfully; among the devices that assure its continued celebrity is the acceptance, almost the courting, of scandal. Flexibility is partly a function of the practice of naming five new judges each year, but the Booker has also been responsive to challenges, including the recognition that it paid too little attention to female authors. The decision to admit American books into the competition was a sign of flexibility, as it was a guarantee of scandal. And the Booker has followed a path of “product placement” that positions it accurately between demands for high art and for “readability,” as examination of several periods in its history demonstrate.
In this article, I seek to present a “metaphorology” of the shipwreck through a literary example. As Hans Blumenberg has noted, the shipwreck has served as a metaphor for the contingency of human existence in Western culture. Building on Blumenberg’s ideas, I argue that modernity heightens contingency and destroys the possibility of a coherent, anthropocentric discourse. For Quentin Meillassoux, the modern outlook exposes the contingency and inhumanity of reality. Building on Meillassoux and Blumenberg’s work, I address ideas pertaining to contingency and the metaphor of modernity-as-shipwreck by engaging with Dan Simmons’ historical novel, The Terror (2007), based on events surrounding the failed Franklin Expedition of 1845-48. The sinister, frozen wastelands of the Arctic figure as the limit of both European humanity and rationality. In Simmons’ novel, the traumatic encounter with cultural otherness conjures up visions of an implosion of colonial ambitions, as the crew members are gradually consumed by both the harsh environment and the ancient Inuit ice demon Tuunbaq and must confront the indifferent frozen wastes of a mythological, gothic North. Simmons’ gothic North Pole constitutes an example of “extro-science fiction,” situated beyond the limits of all knowledge.
The Jordanian-American novelist Laila Halaby is perceived as one of the most well-known contemporary Arab-American writers whose hyphenated identity raises questions regarding which side of the hyphen she belongs to. In this respect, one way to determine whether Halaby identifies herself as an Arab or an American is to examine how she perceives and explores Arab and American cultures and to investigate the different images she constructs about Arabs and Americans. In West of the Jordan (2003), throughout the tales of the four female cousins, this American writer of Arab descent explores the Arab communal values and conventions, as well as the Western beliefs and ways of life. Most importantly, Halaby depicts different images of Arabs and non-Arabs in the context of social, political, and economic conflicts and relationships. In this article, the focus will be mainly on the images of non-Arabs in West of the Jordan. My study, accordingly, draws on Edward Said’s Orientalism and its counterpart Occidentalism, which offer theories of communal and identity construction, as well as practices that lead to stereotyping discourses about the other. This article will consequently start with a definition of the term Orientalism and its counterpart Occidentalism, moving on to deal with the different images of non-Arabs in the second part. Indeed, this latter section investigates how Halaby, who belongs to the Western and Eastern worlds, produces knowledge of the Western society and culture, by offering interesting representations of the two worlds. The third part will shed some light on Halaby’s attitude toward the American world and toward the Arab-American relationships.