Literature and Theatre

The New Atlantis is a text about natural philosophy which seems to offer connections at almost every point with moral and political philosophy. Francis Bacon's had shown himself willing and able to treat what he considered the most pressing issues of political and ethical theory and practical negotiation. Markku Peltonen stresses that the repeated identification of Bacon's philosophical with his political thought relies upon a 'rhetorical similarity'. Bensalem, the island conforms, as it soon becomes clear in the New Atlantis, to virtually all of Bacon's social and political criteria for the reform of knowledge. Bensalem's use of the Merchants of Light represents the proper Baconian relationship of the present to the past, and of the natural philosopher to his 'ancient' forebears. In the New Atlantis, the practice of science appears to be kept institutionally and geographically separate from politics, with considerable autonomy being given to the scientific community.

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis
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Memory and identity in Marie Redonnet’s fiction of the 1990s

The body of writing produced by Marie Redonnet between 1985 and 2000 is an unusually coherent one. The artistic endeavour is a recurrent feature of Redonnet's texts. From Doublures, with its cast of costume-makers, toy-makers, acrobats and performers, right through to Villa Rosa, whose eponymous villa is a haven for painters, dancers and musicians, the desire to invent and create impels a vast array of characters. In many cases of a veritable compulsion, the creative act is seen by Redonnet's characters as a means of generating identity, or, at the very least, of elaborating a fuller, more cohesive and enduring sense of self than that which originally exists. In Candy story and Villa Rosa, self-portraiture is a common pursuit, whilst photography, and its correlative of film-making, feature in the texts Rose Mélie Rose, Candy story, Le Cirque Pandor and Fort Gambo.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France

This chapter highlights how Sophie Calle's propensity for thinking through photography impacts on the experimental and experiential dimensions of phototextual project. The phototextual projects that yielded Suite vénitienne and L'Hôtel take the form of essentially furtive attempts to engage with the life of a singular or serial other. In the book Doubles-jeux, the 1998 versions of both Suite vénitienne and L'Hôtel show changes in textual and photographic content, as well as the general layout, when compared with the 'original' versions. Similar changes can even be noted when one moves from the 'original' French paperback version of Doubles-jeux to the larger, lavishly produced English-language version, Double Game, published as a single hardback volume. Calle's enthusiasm for demonstrating the permutability of her published or exhibited phototextual sequences indicates that, for her, as for numerous other contemporary artists, there is no such thing as a definitive, unproblematically date-bound, realisation of a given project.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
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Chantal Chawaf ’s melancholic autofiction

This chapter explores the possibility of writing 'de la mélancolie' through focusing on the work of Chantal Chawaf, whose writing may be described as 'melancholic autofiction/ melancholic autobiographical fiction. It deals with Chawaf's 1993 novel, Vers la lumière, which is narrated by a woman, in France, who witnessed the brutal murder of her parents as a very young child in the family home, Meininguel. The chapter focuses on the figure of the female vampire in Vers la lumière in order to explore what it means to 'write melancholia' in the first person. In Julia Kristeva's model, the melancholic subject, unable to mourn and thus exiled from language and symbolisation, remains attached to the mother. In his 1915 essay, 'Mourning and melancholia', Sigmund Freud posits mourning and melancholia as different responses to the loss of a love object.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
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Nations are identifiable as meaningful cultural units as a result of their internal cultural diversity, not as a result of an internal homogeneity. An interesting example of the cultural diversity that characterises Scotland is the 'division' between Highland Gaelic culture and Lowland Scots culture. By applying this idea of diversity to a particular area of activity such as art, one can see that it is only by appreciating an interplay of different currents that one can appreciate the Scottishness of Scottish art. It is equally interesting to consider how a Scottish artist or architect is considered when no stereotypical interpretation can be put on his work. In 1996 the British Broadcasting Corporation showed a series of programmes entitled A History of British Art. This series provides an interesting example of the problematic use of the word 'British' with respect to Scottish culture.

in Across the margins
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Ford Madox Ford, the novel and the Great War

This book is about Ford Madox Ford, a hero of the modernist literary revolution. Ford is a fascinating and fundamental figure of the time; not only because, as a friend and critic of Ezra Pound and Joseph Conrad, editor of the English Review and author of The Good Soldier, he shaped the development of literary modernism. But, as the grandson of Ford Madox Brown and son of a German music critic, he also manifested formative links with mainland European culture and the visual arts. In Ford there is the chance to explore continuity in artistic life at the turn of the last century, as well as the more commonly identified pattern of crisis in the time. The argument throughout the book is that modernism possesses more than one face. Setting Ford in his cultural and historical context, the opening chapter debates the concept of fragmentation in modernism; later chapters discuss the notion of the personal narrative, and war writing. Ford's literary technique is studied comparatively and plot summaries of his major books (The Good Soldier and Parade's End) are provided, as is a brief biography.

New interdisciplinary essays
Editor: Bronwen Price

Francis Bacon produced his final draft of the New Atlantis around the years 1624-1625. Standing at the threshold of early modern thought, Bacon's text operates at the interstices of its contemporary culture and does indeed signal a desire to 'illuminate all the border-regions that confine upon the circle of our present knowledge'. This book presents a collection of essays that show how the New Atlantis negotiates a variety of contexts, namely literary, philosophical, political, religious and social, in order to achieve this. The narrative begins with a standard literary device. When Bacon wrote the New Atlantis, he clearly had More's Utopia in mind as a model. For all his strictures on the use of language for rhetorical effect, Francis Bacon was thoroughly grounded in the Renaissance art of rhetoric. He consciously drew on his rhetorical skill in his writings, adapting his style as occasion demanded. The New Atlantis is a text about natural philosophy which seems to offer connections at almost every point with moral and political philosophy. The book discusses two forms of natural knowledge that Bacon takes up and develops in the New Atlantis: natural magic, and medicine. The modern project is crucially dependent on two fundamental miracles: the miracle of creation and the miracle of divine revelation. The book also analyses Bacon's representations of colonialism and Jewishness in the New Atlantis has revealed. The New Atlantis raises questions concerning the relationship between censorship and knowledge.

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Debatable lands and passable boundaries

Debatable lands' and 'passable boundaries': both concepts are emblematic of the kind of inevitably shifting, multi-dimensional perspectives that are found in any consideration of nation and gender. Within Scotland's boundaries there are regional communities demanding a loyalty and recognition as strong as a nationalist commitment with the same shifting perspective of commitment between nation and region as there is between gender and nation. Scottish women's fiction mapped out the infinite possibilities of the imagination: through education, through reading, through landscape. Landscape in Scotland incorporates light and infinity. Hugh MacDiarmid, the writer who bestrode the Scottish literary renaissance, had an iconographic function similar to Robert Burns in Scottish intellectual and literary life after the Second World War. The universalised male centre such as MacDiarmid (or Burns) beloved of traditional (male) Scottish culture, is limiting.

in Across the margins
Sylvie Germain and the generic problems of the Christian novel

Sylvie Germain is an unusual phenomenon on the French literary scene. Having studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, she entered the audiovisual section of the Ministère de la culture in 1981, securing immediate literary success four years later with her first novel, Le Livre des nuits. Le Livre des nuits, the opening volume of Germain's diptych, traces the ebb and flow of faith within the Péniel family, centring on the principal character, Victor-Flandrin, and the suffering he endures. 'Il n'y a pas de troisième voie' (There is no third way) refers to the words of Prokop, principal character of Germain's Immensités, as he ponders his perceived need to settle the question of the existence of God. Germain's engagement with Christianity is unusual in a French female author; she follows in a predominantly male tradition of novelists, most notably François Mauriac and Bernanos.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
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This chapter introduces the concept of Ford Madox Ford's ‘positive fictions’, and offers a way of reading Ford's dedication to his grandfather as well as to his grandfather's circle (especially the Pre-Raphaelites) that feeds into the content and the visual style of these texts. It also reintroduces the ‘woman question’, focusing on four novels that reconstruct worlds of alternative systems which emanate from the fragmented consciousness of men such as Grimshaw. These novels are The ‘Half Moon’ (1909), Ladies Whose Bright Eyes (1911), The New Humpty Dumpty (1912) and The Young Lovell (1913). In some texts, Ford investigates the contemporary rage/fear in male reactions to women, together with the healing qualities of what Carl Jung termed the female archetypes. Jung's theories, and Robert Graves's writings, are used as part of an illuminatory test of Jung's assertion that ‘our world seems to be dis-infected of witches’, when the world is Ford's positive fictions. These fictions possess roots that mean the multiple perspectives central to modernism often regenerate as well as destroy.

in Fragmenting modernism