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Some Write to the Future: Essays on Contemporary Latin American Fiction Book review

In his latest work of criticism, Ariel Dorfman, the Chilean professor, novelist, poet, and dramatist includes six essays translated from Spanish as well as one on Gabriel Garcia Marquez written in English for this volume. Each essay deals with the work of a contemporary author (or in the case of the essay on Chilean testimonial…

The Poet’s Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire Book Review

Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire have long been poles of reference in Caribbean literature, but Josaphat Kubayanda is right when he argues that these twin pillars of negrismo and negritude have never before been put side by side, at least so methodically. Kubayanda has set himself a more precise goal, however. He intends to situate…

The Poetics of Imperialism: Translation and Colonization from The Tempest to Tarzan Book review

The Poetics of Imperialism can be classed among several recent postcolonial reexaminations of imperialist practices, such as Salman Rushdie’s Imaginary Homelands: The Collected Essays (New York: Viking, 1991) and Gauri Viswanathan’s Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (New York: Columbia UP, 1991). These studies share with The Poetics of Imperialism a…

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The Post-Colonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues Book review

A set of interviews that render Spivak’s thought more accessible, The Post-Colonial Critic could be considered a primer on constructing positionalities. Most of the interviews take place in the mid-eighties (1984-1988), which makes this volume, by Spivak’s own standards, already dated. She refers in a 1986 interview, for example, to her then-forthcoming In Other Worlds…

Theories of Africans: Francophone Literature and Anthropology in Africa Book review

In his previous work on Francophone Africa, the much praised Blank Darkness, Christopher Miller describes, by way of Foucault and Said, how Europe categorized Africa. In that work he charts the development of such Eurocentric concepts as idolatry, heathenism, and animism, all of which coalesce in the nineteenth-century notion of Darkness — the absence of…

A Poetics Book review

Charles Bernstein straightforwardly, and without apology, represents a difficult area of United States cultural production — experimental poetry. Though he is introduced at lectures and in jacket blurbs as the author of nineteen (or more) books of poetry, you will not find many of these titles in the Library of Congress catalogue (trust me, I’ve…

African Stars: Studies in Black South African Performance Book review

Veit Erlmann’s carefully documented study of the evolution of black musical performance in South Africa from the late nineteenth century to the first decades of the twentieth century is a comprehensive and detailed history culled from several interviews, journals and newspapers, and his own obviously extensive knowledge as an ethnomusicologist. Erlmann argues rather cogently that…

Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities book review

Race, Nation, Class is a collection of thematically and conceptually related essays by two of the most significant living Marxist theorists. These essays are stimulating, insightful, and — unlike a great deal of what passes for political theory today — genuinely relevant to real political struggles. Both writers analyze racism with a degree of rigor…

Sentimental Modernism: Women Writers and the Revolution of the World Book review

Sentimental Modernism performs a double operation of feminist revision of the canon and of recuperation. The canonical tradition under scrutiny is high modernism. Clark focuses closely on modernist poetics (antibourgeois, impersonal, obscure, elitist, and oriented towards the erotic) and its opposition to the sentimental (associated with domesticity, gentility, community and the discourse of love), to…

Shakespeare in the Changing Curriculum

The title of this uneven collection of essays refers specifically to government-mandated changes in the British secondary school curriculum, which, while broadening the range of English studies to include greater emphasis on film, video, and contemporary literature, nonetheless writes student exposure to “some of the works of Shakespeare” (33) into crown statute. More broadly, the…

Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man Book review

According to David Lehman’s Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man, the study of literature is going to hell, one further sign of the end of the world and the collapse of Western civilization. The culprit is the pervasive concern for theory, by which Lehman means deconstruction, personified in the…

Writing Into the World: Essays 1973-1987 Book review

In 1976 Terrence Des Pres completed The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps, a landmark study commemorating the human capacity to remain sane, and the fierce determination to survive, even under the most appalling conditions. Des Pres’ other two books, however, would appear only after his death. Praises and Dispraises: Poetry and…

The Zuni Man-Woman book review

Beth Cuthand, a Canadian Cree writer, believes “there’s something happening in |contemporary~ Native American writing” (Lutz 40). In the collective sound of American Indian writers’ voices, she hears an emergent “contemporary story” with profound cultural and political implications. Cuthand suggests that this emerging “story” might help us someday “come to terms with cultural differences, with…

The Woman and the Lyre: Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome Book review

Jane McIntosh Snyder’s survey of ancient Greek and Roman women writers rescues from obscurity the fragments of twenty authors and places them beside the one well-known female poet of antiquity, Sappho. The book proceeds from clear and accurate translations, through judicious analysis of literary qualities and biographical evidence, to scholarly and critical reception of these…

Freedom, Foucault, and the Subject of America book review

In Freedom, Foucault, and the Subject of America, Lee Quinby explores the complex interrelationships of power, discourse, and resistance. Freedom seeks an “aesthetics of liberty,” defined here as “a tradition of ethics in America that presents self-stylization as a practice of freedom” (3). For Quinby, this “stylization of freedom promotes selfhood as an activity of…

Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory book review

During the 1980s, the rise of deconstruction in North American universities gripped the still overwhelmingly New Critical academy in the throes of something that could be likened to a kind of existential terror: if reality were challenged on a theoretical level by the dichotomous reversal of centrality/marginality, then the literary establishment as it was then…

Marvellous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World book review

New Historicism, an approach that is practically synonymous with Stephen Greenblatt’s name, is dedicated to the transgression of various boundaries. Many of the texts discussed in this short but intense book are what would normally be called historical documents, yet Greenblatt, following in the footsteps of scholars of colonial Latin American Studies, deploys on them…

Novel frames: Literature as Guide to Race, Sex, and History in American Culture book review

Joseph R. Urgo studies the modern novel as part of a broader theory of textuality and culture. Intelligent, critically creative, coherently argued, and persuasively written, Novel Frames proffers a theory of the novel as a decentered textual field to be compared to other texts from popular culture, political discourse, and contemporary journalism. For Urgo, such…

Rediscovering the New World: Inter-American Literature in a Comparative Context book review

Comparative literary studies have been with us for a long time, but extensive studies comparing the literatures of the Americas — North, Central, and South — are few indeed. Earl E. Fitz explores new ground in his book, not just in the individual comparisons he makes, or in the various topics that form the structure…

Strangers to Ourselves book review

Julia Kristeva can be described as a French Marxist, feminist, psychoanalytic, semiotic theorist. She has been attacked for having betrayed her own radical potential (Stone 38) as well as for lacking a political, historical, or cultural perspective on psychoanalysis (Spivak 366). She has been placed in the ranks of feminists, anti-feminists, and post-feminists. She has…

Women Poets and the American Sublime book review

Joanne Diehl has two primary goals: she intends to delineate a gender-identified poetics and to offer a textual analysis of poems by Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and Adrienne Rich. Diehl argues that these women poets have revised the notion of the Sublime in order to give themselves access to its power….

Woman/Image/Text: Readings in Pre-Raphaelite Art and Literature

Woman/Image/Text: Readings in Pre-Raphaelite Art and Literature provides a critique of feminist criticism at the same time that it discusses Pre-Raphaelite art. Lynne Pearce argues that although representations of women and their experiences may be in some instances profitably internalized by late twentieth-century women readers, recuperation as a critical tactic may have negative results for…

A Mask Dancing: Nigerian Novelists of the Eighties

Adewale Maja-Pearce is a controversial, iconoclastic Nigerian critic who has dethroned a number of literary reputations (Naipaul, Tutuola) while rescuing lesser ones from neglect, notably those of Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta. In his book A Mask Dancing: Nigerian Novelists of the Eighties, his opening salvos are fired off at one of the great sacred…

Early English Devotional Prose and the Female Audience book review

Early English Devotional Prose and the Female Audience studies six anonymous works written by men for women in the thirteenth century. The theoretical basis of the study, which incorporates new historicism, genre analysis, cultural studies, and traditional source investigation, makes the book important for medievalists. At the same time, discussions framed by the social philosophy…

Justice as Translation: An Essay in Cultural and Legal Criticism book review

Three interdisciplinary movements are challenging legal studies: law and economics, critical legal studies, and law and literature. The earliest of the three, law and economics, relies on authoritative interpretation and the principle of wealth maximization for its contribution to a determinate view of the law; critical legal studies, by contrast, refuses positivism and asserts interpretive…

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