In Homer and Langley, E.L. Doctorow’s 2009 novel of New York City, the author focuses on past Manhattan, which he sees as the epitome of his own self-destructive modern and contemporary society. I would argue that Doctorow acts here mainly to denounce excessive material culture in the context of egotistic, upper-class Manhattan dwelling at the end of the nineteenth century. I would also like to show that the novelist criticizes the idea of material progress along more than a hundred years, from the end of the nineteenth century, when the plot starts, to the beginning of the twenty-first century, when the novel was written. The self-contained, isolated world in the novel is the result of our society’s propensity for excessive production and consumption. At the same time, Homer and Langley brings to mind ideas of exhaustion of the human, who agrees to be literally replaced by objects. The fact that such a phenomenon occurs already at the end of the nineteenth century suggests that there might have never been a plenary moment of being human, as we have long entertained the closest possible relationship and even synthesis with the non-human world of objects and tools.
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In the postcolonial context, language represents one of the crucial tools of cultural communication and is therefore often a subject of heated discussion. Since language constitutes the framework of cultural interaction, postcolonial authors often challenge the privileged position of Standard English within their writing by modifying and substituting it with new forms and varieties. The Trinidad-born writer Sam Selvon belongs to a handful of Caribbean authors who initiated linguistic experiments in the context of Caribbean literature and is considered one of the first Caribbean writers to employ dialect in a novel. His 1956 novel The Lonely Londoners reflects the possibilities of vernacular experimentation and thus communicates the specific experience of a particular cultural group in an authentic way.
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From the manuscript to the screen: Implementing electronic editions of mediaeval handwritten material
This paper describes the electronic editing of the Middle English material housed in the Hunterian Collection at Glasgow University Library (GUL), a joint project undertaken by the universities of Málaga, Glasgow, Oviedo, Murcia and Jaén which pursues the compilation of an electronic corpus of mediaeval Fachprosa in the vernacular (http://hunter.filosofia.uma.es/manuscripts). The paper therefore addresses the concept of electronic editing as applied to The corpus of Late Middle English scientific prose with the following objectives: (a) to describe the editorial principles and the theoretical implications adopted; and (b) to present the digital layout and the tool implemented for data retrieval. A diplomatic approach is then proposed wherein the editorial intervention is kept to a minimum. Accordingly, features such as lineation, punctuation and emendations are every now and then accurately reproduced as by the scribe's hand whilst abbreviations are yet expanded in italics. GUL MS Hunter 497, holding a 15th-century English version of Aemilius Macer's De viribus herbarum, will be used as a sample demonstration (Calle-Martín - Miranda-García, forthcoming).
Fourteenth century England experienced social changes which influenced the attitude to crown law and triggered a growing distrust to law and its representatives. The progressing development of the gentry complicated the defining of offences, and diversified the means of punishing them. The Tale of Gamelyn presents a conflict between two brothers, sons of a knight, which went beyond the confinements of the household, transforming itself into a conflict between law and justice. Their feud is a cross-complaint concerning land, which soon turns into a spiral of violence in which one brother uses law to control and punish, and the other uses crime and violence to achieve justice. Using Donald Black’s theory of the sociological geometry of violence (2004) and of crime as social control (1983), this article will analyze the law in the tale as a tool of social control represented by Johan, and justice acquired with the use of self-help by Gamelyn. The article will attempt to prove that the story presents a complex relation between justice and law pinned across the varied spectrum of social classes, which Gamelyn changes a number of times, and will argue that the tale is an affirmation of violence as an underlying force of both law and justice, differing in presentation and realization according to social class.
In its essence, postcolonial literature evolved as an opposition to colonial discourse and ideological representation of the colonized subject inherent in colonial narratives. Springing out of the need to reconceptualize and reconstitute their communities, postcolonial writers often addressed the pressing historical and political issues of that time in their writing. In its early stages, postcolonial literature was therefore often marked by a strong sense of nationalism, interweaving fictional stories with the public narrative of pre-independence ideology. The paper seeks to explore the border between the public and the private in the early novels of the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. Just as his contemporaries in other colonized countries, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o tends to utilize literature as a powerful tool for raising national awareness. The pre-independence period, in which Ngũgĩ’s novels are set, is marked by a certain degree of romanticism and idealism, yet there is also an underlying sense of doom. Drawing on the cultural roots and mythology of his community, the writer steers his narrative in the direction of a larger, public discourse, suggesting that “the individual finds the fullest development of his personality when he is working in and for the community as a whole”. Therefore, the public/private dichotomy stands at the very centre of his writing, proving the rootedness of the individual in the public space.