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Spela Verovsek, Matevz Juvancic and Tadeja Zupancic
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The sons of famous men sometimes fail to succeed in life, particularly if they suffer parental neglect in their childhood and youth. Ira Daniel Aldridge is a case in point-a promising lad who in his formative years lacked sustained contact with his father, a celebrated touring black actor whose peripatetic career in the British Isles and later on the European continent kept him away from home for long periods. When the boy rebelled as a teenager, his father sent him abroad, forcing him to make his own way in the world. Ira Daniel settled in Australia, married, and had children, but he found it difficult to support a family. Eventually, he turned to crime and wound up spending many years in prison. The son of an absent father, he too became an absent father to his own sons, who also suffered as a consequence.
This article is framed by a wider interest in how literary careers are made: what mechanisms other than the personal/biographical and the text-centred evaluations of scholars influence a writer’s choices in persisting in building a succession of works that are both varied and yet form a consistently recognizable “brand.”
Translation is one element in the wider network of “machinery” that makes modern literary publishing. It is a marker of success that might well keep authors going despite lack of sales or negative reviews at home. Translation rights can provide useful supplementary funds to sustain a writer’s output. Access to new markets overseas might also inspire interest in countries and topics other than their usual focus or the demands of their home market.
The Australian novelist and playwright Thomas Keneally achieved a critical regard for fictions of Australian history within a nationalist cultural resurgence, but to make a living as a writer he had to keep one eye on overseas markets as well. While his work on European topics has not always been celebrated at home, he has continued to write about them and to find readers in languages other than English.
Poland features in a number of Keneally’s books and is one of the leading sources of translation for his work. The article explores possible causes and effects around this fact, and surveys some reader responses from Poland. It notes the connections that Keneally’s Catholic background and activist sympathies allow to modern Polish history and assesses the central place of his Booker-winning Schindler’s Ark filmed as Schindler’s List.
Despite the Gothic’s much-discussed resurgence in mainstream American culture, the role the late 2000s financial crisis played in sustaining this renaissance has garnered insufficient critical attention. This article finds the Gothic tradition deployed in contemporary American narrative film to explore the impact of economic crisis and threat, and especially masculine anxieties about a perceived incapacity of men and fathers to protect vulnerable families and homes. Variously invoking the American and Southern Gothics, Take Shelter (2011) and Winter’s Bone (2010) represent how the domestic-everyday was made unfamiliar, unsettling and threatening in the face of metaphorical and real (socio-)economic crisis and disorder. The films’ explicit engagement with contemporary American economic malaise and instability thus illustrates the Gothic’s continued capacity to lay bare historical and cultural moments of national crisis. Illuminating culturally persistent anxieties about the American male condition, Take Shelter and Winter’s Bone materially evoke the Gothic tradition’s ability to scrutinize otherwise unspeakable national anxieties about male capacity to protect home and family, including through a focus on economic-cultural “white Otherness.” The article further asserts the significance of prominent female assumption of the protective role, yet finds that, rather than individuating the experience of financial crisis on failed men, both films deftly declare its systemic, whole-of-society basis. In so doing, the Gothic sensibility of pervasive anxiety and dread in Take Shelter and Winter’s Bone disrupts dominant national discursive tendencies to revivify American institutions of traditional masculinity, family and home in the wakes of 9/11 and the recession.
Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road confronts readers with a question: what is there to live towards after apocalypse? McCarthy locates his protagonists in the aftermath of the world’s fiery destruction, dramatizing a relationship between a father and a son, who are, as McCarthy puts it, “carrying the fire.” This essay asserts that the body carrying the fire is a sacred, incandescent body that connects to and with the world and the other, unifying the human and the divine. This essay will consider the body as a sacred connection in The Road. Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutics and Julia Kristeva’s psychoanalytic approach will help to explore what is sacred. In addition, their works elucidate the body as a present site of human connection and sacredness while calling attention to what is glaringly absent yet hauntingly present in McCarthy’s text: the mother. In the aftermath of destruction, primitive, sacred connections become available through the sensual body, highlighting what is at stake in the novel: the connection of body and spirit. The essay will attempt to show that McCarthy’s rejection of a redemptive framework, or hope in an otherworldly reality, shrouds spirit in physicality symbolized by the fire carried by the body. This spirit offers another kind of hope, one based on the body’s potential to feel and connect to the other. The thought and works of Ricoeur and Kristeva will broaden a reading of McCarthy’s novel, especially as a statement about the unification of body and spirit, contributing a multidimensional view of a contemporary problem regarding what sustains life after a cataclysmic event.
The sons of famous men sometimes fail to succeed in life, particularly if they suffer parental neglect in their childhood and youth. Ira Daniel Aldridge is a case in point-a promising lad who in his formative years lacked sustained contact with his father, a celebrated touring black actor whose peripatetic career in the British Isles and later on the European continent kept him away from home for long periods. When the boy rebelled as a teenager, his father sent him abroad, forcing him to make his own way in the world. Ira Daniel settled in Australia, married, and had children, but he found it difficult to support a family. Eventually he turned to crime and wound up spending many years in prison. The son of an absent father, he too became an absent father to his own sons, who also suffered as a consequence.
Ira Daniel’s story is not just a case study of a failed father-son relationship. It also presents us with an example of the hardships faced by migrants who move from one society to another in which they must struggle to fit in and survive. This is especially difficult for migrants who look different from most of those in the community they are entering, so this is a tale about strained race relations too. And it takes place in a penal colony where punishments were severe, even for those who committed petty offences. Ira Daniel tried at first to make an honest living, but finally, in desperation, he broke the law and ended up incarcerated in brutal conditions. He was a victim of his environment but also of his own inability to cope with the pressures of settling in a foreign land. Displacement drove him to fail.
Let Rhoda Speak Again: Identity, Uncertainty, and Authority in Virginia Woolf's The Waves
Performing a rereading of Virginia Woolf's 1931 experimental modernist masterpiece of The Waves, in this article I focus on the elusive and conflicted character of Rhoda, whose significance has been either overlooked or marginalized in the available criticism of the narrative. By pointing out a number of problems in the existing scholarship devoted to Rhoda, I propose to define her as a transgressive figure of uncertainty through which Woolf develops a critique of the unitary self. My point of departure for the following essay is Toril Moi's perspective on Woolf's oeuvre as openly feminist and deconstructive. Consequently, I begin with Moi's emphasis on Woolf's commitment to the problematization of the Western male humanism's underlying concept of the unitary self. Drawing from a number of critical and philosophical perspectives, I turn to Kim L. Worthington's idea of subjectivity as a sustained process of interpersonal narrativization in order to offer a more nuanced account of Rhoda's identity as compound and implicated in the dynamics of inter-subjective processes. I also consider Rhoda's much criticized rejection of identity vis-à-vis Woolf's strategy of impersonality, and, contrasting it with Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological concepts of the flesh and anonymous existence, I contend that Rhoda renounces the unitary selfhood, which corroborates Moi's critique of Woolf. Through a close analysis of Rhoda's position versus the other characters, as well as by examining how Rhoda's ego boundaries are delineated in the narrative, I demonstrate that Woolf's conflicted heroine emerges as an astute critic of gendered reality, since she is the one who most acutely feels the dualistic nature of selfhood and it is chiefly through her that Woolf points to the need to overcome this dualism. Shannon Sullivan's feminist revision of the Merleau-Pontian perspective on the anonymity and the body as well as the Deweyan notion of transactionality further helps to elucidate the ways in which Rhoda's experimental and subversive discourse engages in a polemic with the Cartesian conceptualization of identity presupposed on the dualism of mind and body simultaneously inquiring about a possibility of a non-dualistic and non-unitary conception of subjectivity. As a consequence, Rhoda gains authority and agency through uncertainty which prompts her to adopt an uncompromisingly and insistently questioning stance. Finally, I suggest reconsidering Rhoda's suicide as a metaphorical act of ‘distancing,’ as discussed by Zygmunt Bauman, via Adorno, in his 2006 Liquid Fear, another context for approaching Rhoda's uncertainty.
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