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Papers on Language and Literature
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Forthcoming 

Volume 54, Number 2, 2018

 

Essays

GRZEGORZ KOSC, “Robert Lowell’s Onionskin Aesthetic”

ABSTRACT:This essay traces Robert Lowell’s complex and abstract reflection on the physical properties of his onionskin typing paper. It does so through a close and extended reading of one sonnet in particular—“Onion Skin” from Notebook 1967–68. The paper’s translucence became—in connection with related characteristics of onion pocket watches—an important metaphor for the conundrum of Lowell’s late modernist aesthetics: it visualized his poetics as mediating between the reflective and constructionist functions of language. In addition, an analysis of the sonnet’s manuscript drafts demonstrates that this translucence guided Lowell’s revisions. The poet’s acceptance for the semitransparency of his medium shows him—against all conventional maps of American poetry—to be associated with, and participating in, the postmodern poetics.

RASA REZANIA and HOSSEIN PIRNAJMUDDIN, “The Angel in the Dump: ‘Liquid’ Modern Waste in Don DeLillo's ‘The Angel Esmeralda’”

ABSTRACT: Zygmunt Bauman has offered a new understanding toward what we may call the redundant and wasteful. Waste, he maintains, is the sight of the city that rises from the ground, but not the city that its citizens believe they know. There is an untold tale to the history of consumerist societies. He notes that today those 'superfluous' groups of people such as the ghetto-dwellers, asylum-seekers, refugees and what he calls the 'vagabonds' are also treated as rubbish; they are excluded from society, ‘dumped.’  Don DeLillo's short story “The Angel Esmeralda” abounds in images of waste and garbage. Yet to understand these images as plain physical and environmental reflections of the crisis of waste in modernity is to underestimate the subtlety and insightfulness of the story. This essay is an attempt to read the story in the light of Bauman's discussion of wasted lives, to reflect on how DeLillo has recycled and made visible "the liquid" modern waste.

ROBERT LANCE SNYDER, “‘Arabesques of the Final Pattern’: Len Deighton’s Hard-Boiled Espionage Fiction”

ABSTRACT: Len Deighton’s indebtedness in his early espionage novels—The Ipcress File (1962), Horse under Water (1963), Funeral in Berlin (1964), The Billion Dollar Brain (1966), and An Expensive Place to Die (1967)—to Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled crime fiction raises two questions about this case of literary adaptation. First, why did Chandler’s celebrated private detective of the 1940s, Philip Marlowe, appeal to Deighton as a prototype for his unnamed spy during the Cold War’s most volatile period of ideological conflict? Second, how did Chandler’s oblique plots in The Big Sleep (1939) and Farewell, My Lovely (1940) influence Deighton’s predilection for weaving intricately elliptical narratives? Addressing these questions in reverse order, this essay proposes that certain parallels between American and British culture predisposed such literary modeling in the aftermath of World War II. When assimilated into the espionage framework of Deighton’s novels, the typical hallmarks of Chandler’s hard-boiled fiction undergo a transformation that reflects an underlying homology related to transatlantic modernism.

Book Reviews

GEOFF SCHMIDT reviews Drawing the Line: Comics Studies and INKS, 1994-1997, ed. Lucy Shelton Caswell and Jared Gardner

REBECCA NESVET reviews The Legacy of the Grand Tour: New Essays on Travel, Literature, and Culture, ed. Lisa Colletta

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