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Papers on Language and Literature
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Forthcoming 

Volume 54, Number 3, 2018

 

Essays

JAMES DUBAN, “Narrative Self-Absolution and Political Tyranny in Moby-Dick and Darkness at Noon

ABSTRACT: What is the pertinence of Moby-Dick (1850) for the narrative technique, political concerns, and lingering guilt of reformed Communist Party member Arthur Koestler (1905-1983)? Specifically, how does Melville’s novel figure in Koestler’s Darkness at Noon (1940) and in Koestler’s several autobiographies? In response to such questions, the current study explores Ishmael’s propensity to compensate, via enhanced narrative ease and playfulness, for his having earlier surrendered his judgment and independence to Ahab’s totalitarianism. I also align Rubashov and Ahab, and in such manner as is compatible with Cold War readings of Moby-Dick popularized by C.L.R. James and others. What emerges is less Koestler’s “accurate” sense of Melville’s novel and narrator than Koestler’s possible encounter with an unreliable narrative outlook he appears not entirely to apprehend in his various moments of self-identification, moral castigation, and ethical absolution.

SLAWOMIR KOZIOL, ''From Sausages to Hoplites of Ham and Beyond: The Status of Genetically Modified Pigs in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy”

ABSTRACT: One of the main themes of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy is the issue of genetic engineering. Among other problems connected with the technology, Atwood explores ways in which the use of human genes might influence human perception of modified animals. Drawing on a number of disciplines, the paper first discusses the changing relationship between humans and the pigoons—genetically engineered pigs with human-level intelligence—which culminates in making of a Hobbesian social contract between the two groups. The paper then focuses on the deceptively happy ending of the trilogy which shows continuing peaceful coexistence of the pigoons and humans. Arguing that the problem of the pigoons should be seen in the light of both animal and racial/colonial studies, the paper refers to philosophical, historical and fictional sources to contend that their continuing peaceful relationship with humans would be highly improbable at the time of a complete collapse of human civilization.

MICHAEL JAY LEWIS, “Letting In the Right Let the Right One In: Sympathy for the Making of Fictional Sympathy”

ABSTRACT: Recent studies have discussed the relation between literature and sympathy. Like their predecessors, several of these studies focus on the sympathy readers feel for characters, or, depicted figures. Certainly, most of these studies do more: they often also discuss sympathetic acts, scenes, as well as the resultant sympathy the reader has to an authorial or textual worldview. In doing so, however, they often downplay what might be narrative fiction’s most unique sympathetic experience: the one the reader has with the inferred act of constructing sympathetic depictions. Through John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in), the paper analyzes how one’s encounter with a fictional narrative encourages one to sympathize not with the image of another—whether that be character, context, or view—but with the act of depicting or representing others sympathetically. 

Book Reviews

TISHA BROOKS reviews Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics by Josef Sorett

KENDRA R. PARKER reviews The Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampires in Literature of the Circum-Caribbean and African Diaspora by Giselle Liza Anatol

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