“What Feminism?” is an extended reflection upon several generations of readers of Simone de Beauvoir, including those readers the author herself has been, from the early 1960s to the present. Of particular interest are the serious readers of Beauvoir since her death in 1986, as opposed to the many detractors who have worked hard to tarnish Beauvoir's productive influence. Among the many groups of such serious readers there are, for example, the social theorist feminists such as Susan Buck Morss; the postcolonial/transnational feminist philosophers such as Chandra Mohanty; the poststructuralist-inspired feminist writers such as Teresa Brennan; and the queer/trans readers such as Judith Butler. What we learn from them is that, going forward, the important thing is to keep excavating the deep structures of Beauvoir's thought so as to forge new pathways for new generations to address the obviously gendered and more than sobering global crises of the twenty-first century.
Alice A. Jardine
Book Review of Brian Boyd, Joseph Carroll, and Jonathan Gottschall, eds. Evolution, Literature and Film: A Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010)
Sometimes the evolution of an open call issue of Girlhood Studies results in something of a girls studies reader unto itself. Since this issue is packed full of criss-crossing themes based on work in several countries—Canada, Iceland, India and the US—there is just no room for editorial commentary. In its inclusion of works on intersectional feminisms and feminist and Indigenous-led critique to school-based and intergenerational interventions and the power of the visual, this issue is something of such a reader.
Although very few electronic editions with any scholarly pretensions exist today, there is already a dominant idea of what an electronic edition ought to be. The idea is that an electronic edition ought to be an archive. It should offer diplomatic transcriptions of documents, and facsimiles of those documents. And it should avoid many of the things that scholarly editions have traditionally done, particularly the creation of critically-edited texts by means of editorial emendation. On this view, what readers need is access to original sources – to as many of them as possible, and avoiding as much as possible the shaping and selection that editors have traditionally engaged in. Although a lot of archives in the world were created and shaped to make specific points, this kind of archive-edition is not conceived of as doing that: it is instead imagined as a neutral witness.
The article uses performance and life analogies in ten novels for juvenile readers to investigate the young protagonists' quest for identity or orientation. Through their experiences in the theatre and as Shakespeare's colleagues, apprentices, or friends, the young people find out who they are and who they might be or should become. The narratives suggest that, not only as stage-actors but also as life-performers, they relive experiences that can be ascribed also to Shakespeare himself. As seen with their eyes, this Shakespeare is de-bardolatrised and de-mythologised when the life-and-theatre analogies he shares with them are extended to his working methods as a poet and playwright.
Midrashim were first published as printed texts in the sixteenth century, initially in Sephardi communities of the Ottoman Empire and later at the famous Hebrew presses of Venice. Vital evidence about the study of these new books is furnished by a heavily annotated copy of Midrash Rabba (Venice, 1545) in the Bodleian Library. Handwritten marginal and interlinear notes show that it was studied by Jewish scholars of the Ottoman Empire and later by the celebrated orientalist and Church of England clergyman Edward Pococke. These glosses provide unique evidence of the interaction of a Christian scholar with the notes of an earlier Jewish reader in deciphering linguistic obscurities in the midrash and resolving textual errors. They therefore shed new light on how early printed books of midrash were read in the decades following their publication and on the study of rabbinic Bible interpretation in the early modern period.
Keith Reader, Reidar Due, and Natascha H. Lancaster
Bernard-Henri Lévy, Le Siècle de Sartre, Paris: Grasset, 2000, 663 pp. 148 FF. ISBN 2- 246-59221-6 Review by Keith Reader
Lendemains: ‘Cinquante ans après Le Deuxième Sexe: Beauvoir en débats’ 24. Jahrgang, 1999, 94. ISBN 3-86057-964-9 Review by Reidar Due
James Giles, ed., French Existentialism; Consciousness, Ethics and Relations with Others, Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi, 1999, 219 pp. £19.50 Review by Natascha H. Lancaster
Apocalypse and Empire in Jane Eyre
The centrality of the colonial motif in Jane Eyre has been well established. The figure of Bertha Mason Rochester haunting the text has made this centrality undeniable: her confinement at Thornfield Hall drives the plot, her eventual fiery demise both enables and conditions the conclusion, and the oppression of Bertha and other peoples subjected to imperial domination metaphorises Jane’s subjection to the patriarchal authority of various males throughout the narrative. Moreover, the wealth appropriated from the colonies materially sustains the society with which the novel concerns itself.3 The conclusion of Jane Eyre reinforces the preponderance of the colonial motif. The imperial project is foregrounded at the novel’s end in St John’s mission to India, and the characters of the novel are sustained by the wealth obtained from the colonies in the form of Jane’s inheritance. The novel’s ending, however, has been read by many recent critics as an affirmation of St John’s evangelising mission, leading some of them to conclude that Jane Eyre represents Charlotte Bronte’s own colonial appropriation.
This issue inaugurates a new phase of Sartre Studies International: for the first time, we are publishing articles in French as well as English.
Reitter Paul and Brett Wheeler
Like so much else in Kafka, the motif of reading has been discussed hotly and often—from Walter Benjamin's early essay, through seminal studies by Walter Sokel and Heinz Politzer, to poststructuralist analyses of how Kafka foregrounds the instability of language and verbal communication. In this large body of criticism, we find abundant interest in how, for Kafka, certain problems of understanding have a particularly modern character, e.g., in how they are connected to particularly modern conditions. These include the waning metaphysical authority of traditional texts and, most obviously, the rise of bureaucracies that deal programmatically in obfuscation. But Kafka's works engage substantially with what we might call the topos of reading in a modern—and often urban—setting in other ways as well, in ways that have received only passing treatment from scholars. Newspaper reading, for example, has a prominent role in "The Judgment," Kafka's breakthrough text, yet its significance has gone largely unexamined.