This chapter evaluates Wilfred Owen, who has become synonymous with war poetry, and studies the posthumousness of his public literary career and the architecture of his poetry. The latter reveals that each of Owen's poems takes an entirely different aspect of the war, is always centred in a particular incident, which it then builds around. The chapter studies Owen's distancing from Siegfried Sassoon and how his poetry located positive value in ‘the inwardness of war’, also showing that Owen not only told his readers what the war was like, but also tried to connect feelings about war and its negations.
Ah Q—The Real Story is the most elaborate fictional work by Lu Xun, published in the heyday of the Chinese Vernacular Revolution. This article argues that reading it in modernist terms challenges both the mainstream reading of this text and the conventional assumptions of modernism as an aesthetic and theoretical framework. It aims to show that the significance of this work lies in the formal and formal-political playfulness, even autonomy, in which the social implications of Chinese modernism reside. The article contends that the modernist design of Ah Q lies in its unique formal and narrative engineering of an allegorical subversion and reconstruction of the basic categories of Confucian cultural-imperial order, such as name, words or speech, action, and biography/history.
Vincent J. Cheng
Amnesia—as a neurological condition—is usually represented in negative terms, a loss of a personal identity that one desperately needs to recover. Much scholarly and scientific work has been done, in recent decades, on issues having to do with memory, Alzheimer’s, trauma, remembrance, memorials and monuments, truth and reconciliation; indeed, memory studies are a notable presence in ‘21st-century approaches to literature’ and culture. But hardly anyone ever talks about the desirability or usefulness of forgetting—which is the central concern of this essay. Drawing on Nietzsche, Marx, Renan, Freud, Luria, Anderson, Yerushalmi, and others, this essay considers the importance of forgetting, especially in terms of the nation and national forgetting—and then focuses on one particular literary case study, James Joyce’s treatment of these issues in Ulysses.
R. W. Maslen
This article focuses on William Baldwin and his works. The personality of Baldwin has been rendered less accessible by his habit of writing in the first person, since many of his narrators stand at several removes from himself. The pompous pseudo-scholar Gregory Streamer in his ‘novel’ Beware the Cat (1553); the Roman talking statue Pasquillus (P. Esquillus) in his scabrous anti-Catholic satire Wonderful News of the Death of Paul III (c.1552); the bumbling editor of The Mirror for Magistrates (1559), ‘William Baldwin’, who struggles to organize his collection of historical poems in the face of censorship, unreliable contributors, and onsets of somnolence; Mirror's parade of garrulous ghosts; none throws much light on the printer-writer who presents their narratives to the public. Moreover, in all his works the narrator's voice gets lost in a cacophony of rival voices, clamouring for the reader's attention. Furthermore, many of his first-person narratives pose as translations. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that the canon of Baldwin's works has yet to be established.
This article analyzes William Baldwin's prose writing. It focuses on Beware the Cat, which resists classification due to its diverse and strange nature. While at times a pleasant read, it can also be disgusting and occasionally disturbing. The slipperiness of the work reflects the ambiguous nature of Baldwin's status as a Tudor writer. It is argued that Beware the Cat is an exercise in foolish writing and that Baldwin was a fool to write a work that consistently frustrates any and all attempts to fix its meaning. The folly of writing such a slippery feline work is perhaps only exceeded by the foolishness of those who seek to collar Beware the Cat, to hang a generic bell onto Baldwin's work in order to warn readers of its approach.
This article examines the poetry of William Barnes in the light of his portrayals of rural people labouring in the fields. Barnes’s social position was unusual in this respect: while his vocation as a schoolteacher and priest meant that he could never be a ‘peasant poet’, his humble origins in rural Dorset ensured a personal connection unusual in the gentleman observer. This combination of distance and intimacy generated anxieties that run through the subjects and rhythmical effects of his poems. Discussion focuses on the tension between the poetry’s insistent validation of field labour and the failure to provide a ‘viewing position’ that does not require us to be part of the working party or a resident of the village. While this discrepancy is never vocalised, it is something the reader cannot ignore, notwithstanding the pleasant spectacle. In answer to critics who have charged Barnes with sentimentality, it is claimed that these poems are in fact most unsettling when they are at their most idyllic.
William Cecil, Lord Burghley, managed Elizabeth’s England from late 1558 until his death in 1598. Over that long period, his personality and his managerial style imprinted on the Elizabethan state. A first generation Protestant, deeply steeped in humanism, his views of government were shaped by his experiences as Principal Secretary in Edward VI’s reign and as a nicodemite participant in Mary’s reign. He conceived his job to be keeping God’s anointed, Elizabeth, on the throne and keeping England safe from internal division and external invasion. To do this he used conceptions of honour, feudal and Christian values, law and the social customs to persuade and dissuade. He worked through standing institutions, such as the justices of the peace, and his pragmatic conservatism limited innovation in government. In order to secure the cooperation of the ruling elites, he had to comprise to achieve his goals.
William Godwin’s interest in the theatre has been documented. However, the recent publication of his diary and correspondence allows us a richer sense of the importance of theatre to him. While his own playwriting activities have received some attention, we can get a fuller understanding of how his theatre attendance and dramatic reading, after he stopped writing plays in 1807, sustained the moral duty he felt as a public intellectual to ameliorate society through the promotion of political justice. Godwin was a committed attendee of the patent theatres, Drury Lane and Covent Garden, and an assiduous reader of what we would today describe as canonical drama. Through a series of well intentioned epistolary interventions directed at the leading actors of the day, but with a particular interest in Edmund Kean, Godwin reveals himself as a guardian of British dramatic culture.
As both text and object, the early modern English Bible functioned as a prompt to conversion and a tool with which both individuals and religious or corporate bodies attempted to effect and secure religious change. This chapter explores influential models for conversion ‘by the book’, and asks how these accounts structured the experience and understanding of divine inspiration and the move between churches. Where the first part explores debates around Bible reading and use in England, the second considers the Bible as a crucial prop in missionary and mercantile activity. Throughout, the chapter considers the materiality of the Bible-as-book, and emphasizes the extent to which Bible reading was understood to be an affective and ideally transformative act, balanced between will and the submission to divine grace.
This article explores Middleton's first known work, the lengthy and elaborate religious poem The Wisdom of Solomon Paraphrased (1597). It suggests that Wisdom is not just a piece of immature hack work in the shrubbery of Scripture. As Debora Shuger notes in her introduction to the poem in the Collected Works, more than 60 per cent of its lines have no biblical source or equivalent, and elsewhere, Middleton ‘tends to be aggressively contrapuntal rather than faithfully paraphrastic’. Moreover, he writes in perfectly uninhibited ignorance of – or indifference towards – the exegetical tradition. Can Wisdom be our first glimpse of the face of Thomas Middleton? If so, it is a strange face indeed, very different from the curled, barbered, rich-complexioned, and self-possessed gallant of the surviving portrait. For this is a face distorted by pain and a self-hatred that eats so deep as to encompass the entire species. And yet, it is also, simultaneously, a face almost obscenely touched with an inexpressible and perhaps perverted ecstasy.