Poetry emanating from what a few decades ago would have been deemed 'the margins' has become the major focus of publishing houses, journals and criticism. This chapter discusses the trends in poetry and poetry criticism in the 1980s and 1990s. The poetry scene has changed since the publication of British Poetry Since 1970, in which Blake Morrison stereotyped the published poet as writing from a 'nostalgic liberal humanism' with 'strong respect for "traditional" forms, even strict metre and rhyme'. The most overlooked feature of the Scottish poet Robert Crawford's work is that he is not simply investigating Scottish history from a variety of perspectives but exploring how modern forms of power produce discourses and knowledge. The importance of resisting received notions of nationality, as well as unified concepts of gender, have become increasingly recognised in poetry criticism.
This chapter analyses fragmentation in Ford Madox Ford's Edwardian novel, A Call: The Tale of Two Passions (1910), in what is essentially an exploration of the changing nature of sexual behaviour and sex roles. Sexual radicalism pre-dated the war. The new twentieth century had been named the ‘vaginal century’ before war began. The relationship between the sexes is cited by Samuel Hynes, Peter Gay and George Dangerfield, amongst others, as one of the extreme indicators of cultural upheaval in the Edwardian era. A Call investigates the repression of instincts, mental breakdown and the new threat of the ‘New Woman’. The codes of behaviour and the personal perspectives (of sex and society) which Ford takes as his subject matter in this novel were further and more conclusively fragmented by the sustained bombardment that was World War I.
The New Atlantis is hardly a hieroglyph of the new learning, but it can be described as 'parabolical wisdom' that gives us a glimpse of the Baconian scientific method in action. This chapter argues that the New Atlantis is less an epitome of Francis Bacon's ideas than a means of persuading others to support his projected reform of scientific endeavour. The rhetoric of the New Atlantis bespeaks the political circumstances of its creation. In The Advancement of Learning Bacon himself notes the importance of amassing 'stuff and variety', or 'that which Cicero calleth sylva and supellex', which logic and rhetoric will 'set forth and dispose'. It was William Rawley who set the mould for regarding the New Atlantis as a blueprint for his scientific programme. In contrast to the haphazard 'unmethodzed' appearance of Sylva Sylvarum, the New Atlantis gives the impression of being a highly controlled piece of writing.
The purpose of this book is to demonstrate that popular romance not only merits and rewards serious critical attention, but that we ignore it to the detriment of our understanding of the complex and conflicted world of medieval England. As an introduction, this chapter offers a short polemical essay that confronts head-on the paradox that informs and ultimately circumscribes all of our thinking about Middle English popular romance. It is divided into two sections that tackle in turn what is at stake in our appreciation and enjoyment of these inescapably popular narratives: romance's status as a socially and aesthetically degenerate form of fiction and its capacity to generate textual pleasure.
Magic, witchcraft and Church in early eighteenth-century Capua
The pro exoneratione sua propria coscientia seems to delineate deep penitential lines of contrition and of repentance, which are approached as a sacramental practice, and demonstrates the depth and capillary social control of the Church in eighteenth-century Italy. The exoneratione sua coscientia reveals the formalities of social control employed by the Church through the tool of the confession. This chapter is concerned with accusations of magic, which were formalised as denunciations heard by the Inquisition of the Archdiocese of Capua, a city twelve miles north of Naples, during the first half of the eighteenth century. It examines the stylistic and rhetorical mechanisms that emerge from the documents. The chapter approaches the records as texts rather than as accusations. The Inquisitional documents used in the chapter consist of narratives describing instances of magical practices, and the reasons why people decided to denounce others who were involved in such activities.
In summing up one of the main themes of humanistic and aesthetic opposition to the Great War – the friction which existed between the structure of the war-state with its resultant ‘herd instinct’ and notions of the sacredness of the individual – there is perhaps no more apposite personal example than that of Gilbert Cannan, an individual who, like Bertrand Russell, specifically projected his concerns into the public sphere. Cannan, a friend of D. H. Lawrence (who, together with his wife, had moved to Buckinghamshire in August 1914 to be near Cannan and his wife Mary), saw himself as a defender of that which he described as ‘a man's most precious possession’: human dignity. Cannan's description of military service as a test of morality was later echoed by the poet and dramatist Robert Nichols, who wrote that the very essence of war was compulsion by violence or threat of violence, and that such compulsion entailed ‘moral suffering’. This chapter examines the views of Arthur Waugh, Lascelles Abercrombie and Paul Nash about the Great War.
This chapter is concerned with the possible divergence of public and private responses in 'the discourse of spirits' and the implications of this for understanding of the decline in the 'public discourse' of witchcraft, magic and the supernatural during the eighteenth century. In a relatively free society where public opinion and its correlate, market demand, were held to be superior to professional or state control, the discourse of empiricism and enlightenment was open for appropriation by all sides. The evidence presented in the chapter suggests instead both that public discourse may be only an approximate guide to private belief, dependent on the rules of public debate, but also that those very rules of public debate may themselves have moulded private belief, at least in the longer term.
This collection and the romances it investigates are crucial to our understanding of the aesthetics of medieval narrative and to the ideologies of gender and sexuality, race, religion, political formations, social class, ethics, morality and national identity with which those narratives emerge.
The lump-child and its parents in The King of Tars
The central figure of the Middle English popular romance known as The King of Tars (hereafter KT) — a formless lump of flesh born instead of a child — defines a certain view of popular literature. The birth is an outrageously sensationalist event; the ideological message conveyed by its subsequent transformation into a human being through baptism is simplistic, vulgar and racist. This chapter concentrates on the treatment of the lump in order to show how its treatment throws into relief the different configurations of paternity and maternity, of gender roles and of religious politics put forward in a range of re-tellings.
Sibylle Lacan's text Un père, published in 1994, bears the subtitle 'puzzle', a term which the author describes as referring primarily to the fragmented nature of her writing. However, it applies equally well to the subject of her text: the question of what kind of father Jacques Lacan represented for her is a puzzle wrestled with throughout the text. In writing and publishing her text, Sibylle Lacan publicly asserts her name and her relation to her father, filling the gap, the missing piece in Who's Who. Sibylle Lacan's Un père, Elisabeth Roudinesco's Jacques Lacan and Jacques Lacan's nom-du-père become embroiled in an intertextual whirl in which notions of paternity, origins and authority lose their footing. Seen in this light, however, Sibylle's puzzle of a text escapes the reduction to a simple confirmation of her father's intellectual legacy.