Real and Not Real: Naomi Mitchison’s Philosophy of the Historical Novel

by Rob Hardy, Carleton College

In a long and varied career as a writer and activist, Naomi Mitchison (1897-1999) wrote novels, poetry, and memoirs; helped establish the first birth control clinics in London; toured the Soviet Union with Doris Lessing; proofread The Fellowship of the Ring; and was adopted as the member of an African tribe. But it was as a historical novelist that she established her reputation in the 1920s and 30s. Focusing on The Corn King and the Spring Queen, her 1931 novel set in the world of Hellenistic Greece, this essay explores Mitchison’s concept of the historical novel as a vehicle for promoting social change.

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Editorial: The Birth of Readings

by Alexandra Berlina, Editor

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Most of my friends, luckily, aren’t literary scholars. Nevertheless, they read books. Most of them also take an occasional look at literary criticism. Some have even been observed to peek into essays on literature. What they never read are articles from academic journals in literary studies.

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Borges, Tlön and the Third Tiger: Towards a Poetics of Experience

by Carlos Abreu Mendoza, Texas State University

 Readers tend to think of Jorge Luis Borges as a writer of abstractions and obscure cultural references, the inventor of imaginary planets and infinite libraries. However, a great deal of Borges’s work is rooted in an empathetic and concrete understanding of the world. This paper analyses The Maker, a 1960 collection of texts that marks Borges’s rediscovery of the human experience as the source of poetic inspiration.

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Chick Lit on Yellow Paper: Stevie Smith as Precursor

by Steve Criniti, West Liberty University

In this essay, I join the academic parlor game of locating serious literary antecedents for the burgeoning contemporary Chick Lit genre. However, I do so not simply for the game of it, but because I think Stevie Smith’s Novel on Yellow Paper can derive a symbiotic benefit from my doing so. In short, it seems that Chick Lit is in a position to “rescue” a long-forgotten but highly influential text that may, in fact, flourish from the establishment of a relationship with the “Chick Lit machine.”

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“I’m Done”: Philip Roth, Serio Ludere, Narcissism, and Nemesis

by Melissa Knox, University of Duisburg-Essen

Drawing on the Renaissance concept of serio ludere (serious play), this essay investigates the relationship between play and Philip Roth’s loss and restoration of his identity in each of his novels. The relationship between Roth’s play and his art has attracted little attention apart from investigations into his presumed trickery (Rudnytsky, 2007). But the pattern in Roth’s life of periodic collapse, briefly alluded to by him in The Facts as “the crack-up” followed by the “controlled investigation” (7) always starts with play. The relationship between the crack-up and the “controlled investigation” is that between the player and the game. Roth’s deliberate, lively process from psychic and physical collapse to autocratic self-command provides artistic mastery—a genuine technical mastery, like that of a ballerina executing thirty-two fouetté turns.

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Children in War: The Pursuit of Happiness in Three Children’s Books

by Rebecca Long, Trinity College Dublin

What is happiness? What does it mean to be happy? How is happiness achieved? Can such questions ever be answered without a context, be it emotional, social, historical or cultural? As a genre, children’s literature provides a particularly engaging and meaningful context within which to explore the concept and experience of happiness. As children are rarely in control of the means to secure their own happiness – or even to understand it – representations of happiness in texts for children are especially affective and enlightening. Ian Serrailler’s The Silver Sword (1956), Anne Holm’s I Am David (1963) and Martia Conlon McKenna’s Safe Harbour (1996) are three narratives for children that interrogate the possibility of happiness in childhoods disrupted by conflict and war.

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The Perils and Possibilities of Mistranslation: Equivocation and Barbarism in For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Laura Lonsdale, The Queen’s College, Oxford

 Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is highly innovative in incorporating the structures and idioms of Spanish into its English prose. His literal translations, puns and false cognates (false friends) have upset many critics, but they reveal that, in spite of his ‘shaky grammar,’ Hemingway had a fine ear for linguistic nuance. By exploiting the overlapping and diverging meanings of cognates in the two languages, Hemingway not only gave historical and cultural substance to his work, but exposed both the difficulty and the necessity of ‘keeping it accurate,’ and ultimately attended to the ethical dimension of translation.

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“Now is the Time for Me to Win”: Social Dysfunction and “The New Sincerity” in the Works of George Saunders

by James McAdams, Lehigh University

Over the past two decades, the central conceit at the heart of George Saunders’ work has remained the same: to re-introduce values of compassion and sincerity to American literature.  Often he does this by placing resentful antiheroes in bizarre narrative positions where they must learn to appreciate the singularity of all humans. This impulse associates Saunders with “The New Sincerity,” a loose assemblage of writers who have turned their backs on postmodern irony and cynicism. In this essay, I analyze one short story, “Winky,” to demonstrate Saunders’ rhetorical strategies and their connection to The New Sincerity.

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No Magic Mirror Required: Folklore and Patriarchy in Angela Carter’s “The Snow Child”

by Kari Sawden, Memorial University of Newfoundland

It is easy to overlook Angela Carter’s retelling of Snow White, tucked away on two pages of The Bloody Chamber. Should one’s eyes fall upon “The Snow Child”, however, it becomes impossible to look away as the reader is drawn into a world of inescapable power struggles and victimisation. Exploring Carter’s uses and subversions of this traditional narrative, the present article reveals how she gives voice to issues of gender and abuse within patriarchal structures that are still relevant in the twenty-first century.

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