negotiates tropes of abjection —staged at the blurred lines of fantasy and horror toward some morally purposive allegory of “female empowerment”—with an altogether different economy of abjection that disrupts such restricted economies precisely because
Sisyphean Landscape Allegory in Cinema
This article embarks from George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s embodied understanding of metaphor in linguistic contexts and proceeds beyond merely an extended notion of “visual” metaphor toward an operational understanding of the term “allegory” in the cinematic context. Specifically, a pattern of Sisyphean landscape allegory in a global array of postwar narrative cinema is identified and explored, in which a psychologically conflicted protagonist struggles against a resistant natural landscape, connoting varying degrees of existential “futility.” The recurrent experiential configuration of this modernist allegory on screen, especially in terms of its haptic dimensions, is explored for its ability to “invoke” social critique—as felt, visceral content.
What facilitates the psychic process of grieving a traumatic loss, and what happens when that process is blocked? Forbidden Games is, on one level, an intimate film about childhood trauma. When viewed from a psychoanalytic perspective informed by concepts such as introjection and pathological mourning, however, it emerges as a complex allegory that reflects, through its narrative and filmic elements, on the sociocultural and historical dynamics of France's troubled response to the loss of its identity as a democracy during World War II. The film also reflects on the even more shameful history of the rise of French anti-Semitism under the Vichy regime and France's history of silencing or repressing the drama of its willing collaboration with the Nazis' Final Solution. Private trauma thus screens public, political trauma as Clément's film becomes both a medium for sociocultural commentary and a memorial to loss that could not be buried or mourned.
In the years following unification, East German cityscapes have been subject to fierce contention because historic preservation and urban renewal have served as a local allegory of national redemption. Using conflicts over preservation and renewal in the city of Eisenach as a case study, I argue that historic cityscapes have served as the focus of many East Germans' efforts to grapple with the problem of Germanness because they address the past as a material cultural legacy to be retrieved and protected, rather than as a past to be worked through. In Eisenach's conflicts, heritage and Heimat serve as talismans of redemption not just because they symbolize an unspoiled German past, but also because they represent structures of difference that evoke a victimized Germanness—they are above all precious, vulnerable possessions threatened with disruption, pollution, or destruction by agents placed outside the moral boundaries of the hometown by its bourgeois custodians.
The Enigma of Non-arrival
Nigel Rapport and Noa Vaisman
How people arrive at their convictions, and how they come to change them, remain immensely difficult questions. This article approaches convictions as manifestations of individuals' embodiment, and as allegories of their lives. As well as a rehearsing of moments of his own embodied learning, the main author engages in an email exchange with the second author, pondering how he might answer her questions about an anthropological methodology which more nearly approaches others' embodied experiences: the convictions represented by informants' words and behaviours. The article ends inconclusively. An individual's knowledge of body and self is part of that body and self, situated amid world-views and life-projects. Alongside the radical otherness of anthropologists' informants is the relative otherness of anthropologists to themselves. Our disciplinary conclusions concerning convictions, own and other, must remain provisional and open.
Kathryn T. Gines
Is Jean-Paul Sartre to be credited for Richard Wright's existentialist leanings? This essay argues that while there have been noteworthy philosophical exchanges between Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Richard Wright, we can find evidence of Wright's philosophical and existential leanings before his interactions with Sartre and Beauvoir. In particular, Wright's short story "The Man Who Lived Underground" is analyzed as an existential, or Black existential, project that is published before Wright met Sartre and/or read his scholarship. Existentialist themes that emerge from Wright's short story include flight, guilt, life, death, dread, and freedom. Additionally, it is argued that "The Man Who Lived Underground" offers a reversal of the prototypical allegory of the cave that we find in the Western (ancient Greek) philosophical tradition. The essay takes seriously the significance of the intellectual exchanges between Sartre, Beauvoir, and Wright while also highlighting Wright's own philosophical legacy.
Man and Microbes in Dracula, The War of the Worlds, and The Nigger of the “Narcissus”
Jens Lohfert Jørgensen
The tension between specialised and commonsensical notions of microbes in the last decades of the nineteenth century resulted in ‘ bacillophobia'; a marked anxiety amongst the public concerning the threat posed to the individual by germs. This article investigates how the conceptual impact of bacillophobia challenged the cohesion of late Victorian society. It focuses on the role played by bacteria in the negotiation between interiority and exteriority in three novels, all published in 1897: Bram Stoker's Dracula, H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and Joseph Conrad's The Nigger of the “Narcissus”. The analyses of the works emphasise the varying functions of bacteria in them – as allegory in Dracula, as plot device in The War of the Worlds, and as theme in The Nigger of the “Narcissus” – and the varying degrees of ambiguity they are represented with. Bacteriology participated in what the German sociologist Max Weber referred to as the ‘ disenchantment' of the world, which is characteristic of modernity, but the three works all testify to a re-enchanted fear of the possibility that nature might not, after all, be controllable.
Rewriting Lesbian Stereotypes in Summer Will Show
Intertextuality is basic to Sylvia Townsend Warner’s narratives: she is a formidably learned, effortlessly allusive writer. From her slyly absurd references to Wordsworth in the lush tropical setting of Mr. Fortune’s Maggot (1927) through her retelling of Apuleius’s Cupid and Psyche to produce an allegory of class oppression in her first historical novel, The True Heart (1929), to the densely woven intertextuality of Summer Will Show (1936), she uses allusion both to ground her apparently implausible narratives within literary history and to question and parody the politics, ‘history’, and narratology of her predecessors. It is appropriate that in this novel, where the lesbian romance in Paris is precisely coterminous with the 1848 revolution, many of the allusions are to nineteenth-century French literary history. Warner’s ‘unwriting’ of Flaubert’s L’Éducation Sentimentale has received a great deal of attention since it was first noted by Terry Castle in her 1990 theorisation of the lesbian triangular plot. Later writers, in contrast, have emphasised the allusion’s Marxist significance. Quite another fictional genealogy seems more to the point, however, when we consider Warner’s characterisation of Minna Lemuel, the revolutionary Jewish story-teller: the representation, usually by women writers, of the powerful, sexually active, sometimes evil and sometimes doomed femme artiste, as in Madame de Stael’s Corinne, Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, George Sand’s Consuelo, and Colette’s La Seconde. It is now abundantly clear that the intertextuality of Summer Will Show demonstrates that the novel is narratologically, politically, and sexually revolutionary.
Eighteenth-Century Utopianism and Fire Down Below
William Golding’s Fire Down Below (1989) is the last in his ‘Sea Trilogy’, a sequence of novels which began in 1980 with Rites of Passage and continued in 1987 with Close Quarters. Edmund Talbot, Golding’s young, aristocratic protagonist, finally arrives in Australia shortly after the end of the Napoleonic Wars and this sea-borne bildungsroman is brought to an end. The response to Fire Down Below was extremely enthusiastic, and markedly different from the cautious and even mildly hostile response which greeted Close Quarters. The great majority of reviewers agreed that the happy ending of Fire Down Below made it Golding’s most optimistic novel. John Bayley wrote: ‘Fire Down Below brings the whole magical enterprise to a prosperous and happy conclusion’, while John Fowles wrote: ‘In this black-besotted age some may be unsettled by the happy ending, indeed by the generally jaunty (a word that kept perversely returning to me as I read) spirit of this closing leg.’ However, the last of Golding’s books published in his life-time can be read as a deeply conservative political allegory and, overall, as one of his most deeply pessimistic novels.
Dreaming about Four Dimensions with Edwin A. Abbott and May Kendall
This article links the rise of non-Euclidean geometry with the ascent of theories of evolution in the second half of the nineteenth century, and argues that the upsurge of speculations on higher dimensional space figures as a corollary of the pre-eminence of Darwinian ideas in the late Victorian imaginary. It first provides a short sketch of the development of thinking in higher dimensions from Plato's 'allegory of the cave' to the late Victorian popularisation of the subject in the works of Charles Hinton and H.G. Wells. On this basis, it goes on to examine two literary texts from the 1880s, Edwin A. Abbott's novel Flatland and May Kendall's poem 'A Pure Hypothesis'. Both texts are premised on the assumption that there are different versions of the world with different numbers of spatial dimensions, and that through the faculty of dreaming it is possible to transcend the boundaries between these worlds. This article shows how both texts use this central conceit to pose serious questions about contemporary class hierarchies as well as the ethical implications of scientific progress.