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2006, May 03; 19:05 ::: Current trend in American horror movies

Pet Sematary (1983) - Stephen King [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Hostel (2006) is director Eli Roth's second feature film. The movie is rated R for brutal scenes of torture and violence, strong sexual content, language, and drug use. Due to the graphic nature of this film, it's showing has been restricted in certain countries, primarily those with strict censorship policies.

There are several references to classic Euro horror films of the 1970s. The chase of the character wearing the red hooded coat is a reference to Don't Look Now. The music played during the sex scene in the hostel is the Sneaker Pimps cover version of 'How Do', the song (also known as "Willow's Song" and also covered by Doves) played during the naked dance in The Wicker Man. Both Don't Look Now and The Wicker Man feature outsiders trapped in strange exaggerated European locations whose depiction is unlikely to please local tourist officials. Don't Look Now and The Wicker Man were both released in 1973 in the UK on a double bill.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostel_%28film%29 [May 2006]

Curt at Groovyageofhorror starts an interesting debate about the current trend in horror movies like Hostel, Saw, Open Water, Wolf Creek, etc. :

"It may or may not surprise you that I haven't seen a single movie of this sort, and not only from the current bumper crop, but even from the first turn of the cycle--I haven't seen the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Last House on the Left or any of those, either. I therefore can't offer any informed opinion on their merits. In a perverse sort of way, though, I think I can still say something interesting about them, as a die-hard horror fan who's shunned them on the basis of the image they've fostered and cultivated so aggressively." --http://groovyageofhorror.blogspot.com/2006/05/few-horror-myths.html [May 2006]

See also: R-rating - banned films - horror cinema

2006, May 03; 19:05 ::: Pet Sematary (1983) - Stephen King

Pet Sematary (1983) - Stephen King [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Pet Sematary (1983) is a novel by Stephen King. By the author's own reference, the story line owes something to The Monkey's Paw, a folk tale best known from a version written by W.W. Jacobs. King's novel goes a step beyond the folk tale in considering what would happen if the possessor of the paw's power failed to realize his error after the second wish. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet Sematary [May 2006]

Undead is the collective name for all types of supernatural entities that are deceased yet behave as if alive. Undead may be spiritual, such as ghosts, or corporeal, such as animated corpses. Undead are featured in the legends of most cultures and in many works of fiction, especially fantasy and horror fiction.

Bram Stoker was the first to use the term "The Un-Dead" as the original title for his novel Dracula.

The undead can be subdivided in corporeal (ghouls, vampires, zombies) and incorporeal (ghosts, phantoms, poltergeists). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undead [May 2006]

See also: zombie - The Monkey's Paw - 1983 - cemetery - Stepen King - horror fiction

2006, May 02; 19:05 ::: Cloister Cemetery in the Snow (1817-19) - Caspar David Friedrich

Cloister Cemetery in the Snow (1817-19) - Caspar David Friedrich

See also: 1810s - Romantic art - cemetery - gothic trope

2006, May 02; 19:05 ::: Bad Music; The Music We Love to Hate (2004) - Christopher Washburne and Maiken Derno

Bad Music; The Music We Love to Hate (2004) - Christopher Washburne and Maiken Derno [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
"There are only two kinds of music: good and bad", said the late and great Ray Charles. This book explores his instinctive opinion.

Why are some popular musical forms and performers universally reviled by critics and ignored by scholars-despite enjoying large-scale popularity? How has the notion of what makes "good" or "bad" music changed over the years-and what does this tell us about the writers who have assigned these tags to different musical genres? Many composers that are today part of the classical "canon" were greeted initially by bad reviews. Similarly, jazz, country, and pop musics were all once rejected as "bad" by the academy that now has courses on these and many other types of music. This book addresses why this is so through a series of essays on different musical forms and performers. It looks at alternate ways of judging musical performance beyond the critical/academic nexus, and suggests new paths to follow in understanding what makes some music "popular" even if it is judged to be "bad." For anyone who has ever secretly enjoyed ABBA, Kenny G, or disco, Bad Music will be a guilty pleasure!

Simon Frith gives three common qualities attributed to bad music: inauthentic, [in] bad taste (see also: kitsch), and stupid. He argues that "The marking off of some tracks and genres and artists as 'bad' is a necessary part of popular music pleasure; it is a way we establish our place in various music worlds. And 'bad' is a key word here because it suggests that aesthetic and ethical judgements are tied together here: not to like a record is not just a matter of taste; it is also a matter of argument, and argument that matters." (p.28) --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesthetics_of_music#Bad_music [May 2006]

See also: bad taste - music theory - popular music

2006, May 02; 19:05 ::: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1530s) - Francois Rabelais

Gargantua and Pantagruel (1530s) - Francois Rabelais [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Biting and bawdy, smart and smutty, lofty and low, Gargantua and Pantagruel is fantasy on the grandest of scales, told with an unquenchable thirst for all of human experience. Rabelais's vigorous examination of the life of his times—from bizarre battles to great drinking bouts, from satire on religion and education to matter-of-fact descriptions of bodily functions and desires—is one of the great comic masterpieces of literature.

Parts of Gargantua and Pantagruel were banned upon their publication, and the whole of it has suffered in our century at the hands of translators too timid to say in modern English what Rabelais so frankly wrote in Middle French. Master translator Burton Raffel unapologetically brings to life in today's American idiom all the gusto of Rabelais's language. Raffel succeeds in making Gargantua and Pantagruel, so long a great unread classic, accessible and alive to the contemporary reader.

Gargantua and Pantagruel is a connected series of five books written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. It is the story of two giants, a father (Gargantua) and his son (Pantagruel) and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein. There is much crudity and scatological humor as well as needless violence. Long lists of vulgar insults fill several chapters.

Rabelais was one of the first Frenchmen to learn ancient Greek, from which he brought some 500 words into the French language. His quibbling and other wordplay fills the book, and is quite free from any prudishness. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantagruel [May 2006]

Honoré Daumier's 1831 caricature of king Louis-Philippe of France as Gargantua led to his imprisonment for six months at Ste Pelagic in 1832.

See also: satire - ribaldry - French literature - 1500s - Rabelais - novel

2006, May 02; 19:05 ::: Ledikant (The French bed) (c. 1646) - Rembrandt

Ledikant (The French bed) (c. 1646) - Rembrandt

Rembrandt was not squeamish about the earthy side of life. The 1640s brought a flurry of prints showing couples in intimate circumstances. He tipped the scales away from the idealization of human behavior, giving greater weight to our failings and foibles. In the etching The Sleeping Herdsman (1643-44, MFA, Boston), while a bearded old man dozes on a leafy embankment, a young woman and her suitor take advantage of the moment. Another tiny outdoor pastoral scene, The Monk in the Cornfield (about 1646, Art Institute of Chicago), participates in a long artistic tradition that satirizes the unchaste behavior of monks and priests. This print is very rare, suggesting that the miniature masterpiece was intended to be shared like an off-color story, only among close friends. And despite his use of a remarkably similar pose for its protagonists, The French Bed (“Ledikant,” 1646, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) is far more tender in mood, with Rembrandt seducing us with the velvety lines created by his drypoint needle. --http://www.artdaily.com/section/specialreports/index.asp?int_sec=110&int_index=67 [May 2006]

See also: Rembrandt - erotica - 1640s

2006, May 02; 19:05 ::: Theory of the Novel : A Historical Approach (2000) - Michael McKeon

Theory of the Novel : A Historical Approach (2000) - Michael McKeon [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Michael McKeon, author of "The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740," here assembles a collection of influential essays on the theory of the novel. Carefully chosen selections from Frye, Benjamin, Livi-Strauss, Lukacs, Bakhtin, and other prominent theorists explore the historical significance of the novel as a genre, from its early beginnings to its modern variations in the postmodern novel and postcolonial novel.

Offering a generous selection of key theoretical texts for students and scholars alike, "Theory of the Novel" also presents a provocative argument for studying the genre. In his introduction to the volume and in headnotes to each section, McKeon argues that genre theory and history provide the best approach to understanding the novel. All the selections in this anthology date from the twentieth century--most from the last forty years--and represent the attempts of different theorists, and different theoretical schools, to describe the historical stages of the genre's formal development. --from the publisher

See also: literary theory - novel

2006, May 02; 19:05 ::: The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740 (1987) - Michael McKeon

The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740 (1987) - Michael McKeon [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Library Journal
This may well be the most important study of the development of prose fiction in England since Ian Watt's classic Rise of the Novel (1957), on which it builds. Like Watt's study, it examines philosophical changes ("Questions of Truth") and social-cultural changes ("Questions of Virtue") in the early modern period to conclude that the novel "emerged in early modern England as a new literary fiction designed to engage the social and ethical problems the established literary fictions could no longer mediate." It also offers provocative readings of several 17th- and 18th-century works. The Marxist/deconstructionist language will be difficult for undergraduates, but the astute philosophical, cultural, historical, and literary observations will fascinate and enlighten any scholar of the early modern period. --Joseph Rosenblum, English Dept., Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --via Amazon.com

—New York Review of Books
"A powerful and solid work that will dominate discussion of its subject for a long time to come." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

See also: British literature - 1600s literature - 1700s literature - novel

2006, May 02; 19:05 ::: Cultural Theory and the Problem of Modernity (1998) - Alan Swingewood

Cultural Theory and the Problem of Modernity (1998) - Alan Swingewood [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
This book provides a comprehensive account of different sociological theories of culture. Examining and comparing Marxist contributions from Gramsci, the Frankfurt School and Raymond Williams with the work of Weber, Durkheim, Simmel and Parsons, the author in turn contrasts these contributions with contemporary cultural theory. Concepts and theories of culture such as hegemony, force field and cultural materialism are discussed, and the work of Habermas, Bourdieu, Bakhtin, Jameson and Bell is examined critically. The author develops a sociological approach to the study and analysis of culture that allows the complex nature of social context to be taken into account. Arguing that cultural theory must equally develop theories of agency and self, he reviews the ways that both classical and contemporary sociological and Marxist theories have failed in this regard. --from the publisher

About the Author
Alan Swingewood is Lecturer in Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

See also: culture theory - modernity

2006, May 02; 19:05 ::: The sociology of literature (1972) - Diana T Laurenson, Alan Swingewood

The sociology of literature (1972) - Diana T Laurenson, Alan Swingewood [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

See also: sociology - literature

2006, May 02; 19:05 ::: Dancin' in the Streets! Anarchists, Iwws, Surrealists, Situationists & Provos in the 1960s (2005) - Various

Dancin' in the Streets! Anarchists, Iwws, Surrealists, Situationists & Provos in the 1960s (2005) - Various [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
While square critics derided them as "the left wing of the Beat Generation," the multi-racial, working-class editorial groups of The Rebel Worker and its sister journal Heatwave in London became well known for their highly original revolutionary perspective, innovative social/cultural criticism, and uninhibited class-war humor. Rejecting traditional left dogma, and proudly affirming the influence of Bugs Bunny and the Incredible Hulk, these playful rebels against work expanded the critique of Capital into a critique of daily life and developed a truly radical theory and practice, rooted in poetry, provocation, blues, jazz and the pleasure principle. Active in strikes, free-speech fights and other tumults, they also introduced countless readers to important writings by and about surrealists, situationists, IWWs, anarchists, libertarian Marxists, Provos, the Japanese Zengakuren, and other political/cultural revolutionary-minded individuals and movements from all over the world. This lavish tome provides dozens of selections from all the editions of both journals, with a wealth of related documents, communiques and articles, a bibliography, and detailed introduc tions by the original editors. What a book! What other work could Murray Bookchin, Sam Dolgoff and Guy Debord all agree was worthwhile and revolutionary! --from the publisher

Industrial Workers of the World
In the 1960s, Rebel Worker was published in Chicago by the surrealists Franklin and Penelope Rosemont. One edition was published in London with Charles Radcliffe who went on to become involved with the Situationist International. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Workers_of_the_World [Apr 2006]

Charles Radcliffe
Charles Radcliffe (1942-) is a descendant of Nell Gwynne. A member of the radical direct-action wing of the peace movement of the early 1960s, he became a regular contributor to the anarchist press in Britain and in 1966 launched Heatwave, a radical magazine produced in London. It lasted for just two issues, but was cited in the Situationist tract On the Poverty of Student Life as an example of one of the "profoundly revolutionary tendencies in the critique of all aspects of the prevailing way of life" and its treatment of popular culture has been widely hailed as path-breaking. The critic Jon Savage said that one piece by Radcliffe "laid the foundation for the next 20 years of sub-cultural theory".

Heatwave was closely associated with Rebel Worker, a short-lived but immensely influential magazine published in Chicago by Franklin Rosemont, Penelope Rosemont and Bernard Marszalek, to which Radcliffe was a contributor. They were members of the Industrial Workers of the World and had links with the Surrealist movement in France, the British libertarian socialist group Solidarity and the Situationist International.

Radcliffe became a member of the British Section of the Situationist International in December 1966, alongside Christopher Gray, Donald Nicholson-Smith and Timothy (T. J.) Clark. He resigned in November 1967, and the British Section was then dissolved with the expulsion of Gray, Nicholson-Smith and Clark.

Radcliffe then became involved with the magazine Friends, sharing a flat with editor Alan Marcuson. He currently lives in Spain. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Radcliffe [May 2006]

See also: radical - counterculture - left - politics

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: Tatra cars

Original French advertisement for the Tatra T77: La Voiture Élégante (The Elegant Car) (1934)
Image sourced here.

Tatra's specialty was luxury cars of a technically advanced nature. In the 1930s, under Austrian engineer Hans Ledwinka and his son Erich, Tatra started building advanced, streamlined cars starting with the large Tatra T77 in 1934, the world's first production aerodynamic car. The T77's drag coefficient of 0.212 is rarely bettered even by the sleekest modern cars. It featured, as did almost all subsequent big Tatras, a rear-mounted, air-cooled V8 engine, very technically sophisticated for the time. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatra_(car) [May 2006]

See also: car - Russia - streamline - 1934

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: Phonographies : Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity (2005) - Alexander G. Weheliye

Phonographies : Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity (2005) - Alexander G. Weheliye [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"Phonographies is often original and challenging . . . strong interdisciplinary connections are made and new insights emerge, and the seamless manner in which he does it startles most of all." --The Wire

Book Description
Phonographies explores the numerous links and relays between twentieth-century black cultural production and sound technologies from the phonograph to the Walkman. Highlighting how black authors, filmmakers, and musicians have actively engaged with recorded sound in their work, Alexander G. Weheliye contends that the interplay between sound technologies and black music and speech enabled the emergence of modern black culture, of what he terms “sonic Afro-modernity.” He shows that by separating music and speech from their human sources, sound-recording technologies beginning with the phonograph generated new modes of thinking, being, and becoming. Black artists used these new possibilities to revamp key notions of modernity—among these, ideas of subjectivity, temporality, and community. Phonographies is a powerful argument that sound technologies are integral to black culture, which is, in turn, fundamental to western modernity.

Weheliye surveys literature, film, and music to focus on engagements with recorded sound. He offers substantial new readings of canonical texts by W. E. B. Du Bois and Ralph Ellison, establishing dialogues between these writers and popular music and film ranging from Louis Armstrong’s voice to DJ mixing techniques to Darnell Martin’s 1994 movie I Like It Like That. Looking at how questions of diasporic belonging are articulated in contemporary black musical practices, Weheliye analyzes three contemporary Afro-diasporic musical acts: the Haitian and African American rap group the Fugees, the Afro- and Italian-German rap collective Advanced Chemistry, and black British artist Tricky and his partner Martina. Phonographies imagines the African diaspora as a virtual sounding space, one that is marked, in the twentieth century and twenty-first, by the circulation of culture via technological reproductions—records and tapes, dubbing and mixing, and more.

See also: recorded sound - groove - black science fiction - groove

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: Bohemia: The Protoculture Then and Now (1977) - Richard Connelly Miller

Bohemia: The Protoculture Then and Now (1977) - Richard Connelly Miller [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Dan Goffman's chapter on American bohemian culture of the 1950s (especially its link to African American culture) in Counterculture Through the Ages : From Abraham to Acid House (2004) is partly based on this book.

"Bohemia: The Protoculture Then and Now" by Richard Miller - An art history book which documents the activities of various art movements over the past 200 years as cultural movements. Its a bit dated now (published in the 1970s) but it had a huge influence on me in my youth, it showed me that art can be more then just the objects that artists produce. -- Loren Nerell: Ethno-musicologist

See also: bohemia - proto- - culture

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: The Furniture of Carlo Mollino (2006) - Fulvio Ferrari, Napoleone Ferrari

The Furniture of Carlo Mollino (2006) - Fulvio Ferrari, Napoleone Ferrari [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
The first monograph on the furniture and interior design of Carlo Mollino, one of the most original Italian designers of the twentieth century. Realized in collaboration with Museo Casa Mollino, it is extensively illustrated with over 400 sketches, drawings and archival photographs, many never published before.

See also: Carlo Mollino - design

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: Colani: Art of Shaping the Future (2005) - Albrecht Bangert

Colani: Art of Shaping the Future (2005) - Albrecht Bangert [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
If there was an award for world's coolest designer, Luigi Colani, with his signature moustache and trademark stogie, would win it hands down every year. Colani has been making bio-morphic streamlined products ever since he graduated from the Sorbonne, in 1953, with a degree in aerodynamics. He has designed everything from cameras and watches to cars and motorcycles. His visionary studies for supersonic transit, high-speed trains, aerodynamic sports equipment, eyewear, and just about everything else have dramatically altered our designed environment. His ultra progressive design patrons include BMW, Canon, Mazda, NEC, Rosenthal, Sony, VW, and Zeiss.

This magnificent volume, beautifully produced with hundreds of drawings and photos, showcases for the first time his wide-ranging oeuvre in the context of international design history. Also, it's just, well, incredibly cool.

About the Author
Dr. Albrecht Bangert studied archaeology and art history. He is a publisher and exhibition curator in the fields of art and design.

See also: Luigi Colani - design

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties (1983) - Noel Riley Fitch

Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties (1983) - Noel Riley Fitch [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Dan Goffman's chapter on Paris 20th century bohemian culture in Counterculture Through the Ages : From Abraham to Acid House (2004) is partly based on this book.

Amazon review
In 1917, Sylvia Beach walked into a Paris bookshop, where she met Adrienne Monnier, the woman who would become her life companion. In 1919, Beach opened her own English-language bookshop and lending library, Shakespeare and Company, which would become the cynosure of an entire literary movement. Literary expatriates were drawn to her shop, and Ernest Hemingway declared of Sylvia, "No one that I ever knew was nicer to me." But her most celebrated literary efforts are those she made on behalf of her literary idol, James Joyce, undertaking the publication of Ulysses. Noel Riley Fitch uses Beach as the focal point for a fascinating portrait of an artistic community filled with anecdote after anecdote. From the intellectual salons at Natalie Barney's residence--of which "William Carlos Williams would recall only the lesbian women dancing together"--to the seemingly constant presence of Ezra Pound, Fitch's account solidifies the importance of the time and place he so vividly re-creates. --Ron Hogan

See also: Sylvia Beach - Ulysses - American literature - the lost generation - bohemian culture - Paris

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: American Expatriate Writing and the Paris Moment: Modernism and Place (1992) - Donald Pizer

American Expatriate Writing and the Paris Moment: Modernism and Place (1992) - Donald Pizer [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Dan Goffman's chapter on Paris 20th century bohemian culture in Counterculture Through the Ages : From Abraham to Acid House (2004) is partly based on this book.

Amazon review
This scholarly study examines important literary works by giants of the modernist movement, specifically books written between the world wars. Pizer is primarily concerned with distinctly resonant responses to "the mythic reality of Paris," as manifest in the works of such major figures as Dos Passos, Fitzgerald, Nin, and Miller. Paris as a setting is analyzed, and likewise the ways in which the city presumably nourished creative impulses. Pizer looks at varying forms of modernism in autobiographies, journals, and novels, relating work of this period by Stein and Hemingway to the cubist movement in the visual arts. Pizer's reasoning is generally accessible and his insights are often stimulating. Alice Joyce

See also: American literature - the lost generation - bohemian culture - Paris

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: Bohemian Paris: Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, and the Birth of Modern Art () - Dan Franck

Bohemian Paris: Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, and the Birth of Modern Art () - Dan Franck [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Dan Goffman's chapter on Paris 20th century bohemian culture in Counterculture Through the Ages : From Abraham to Acid House (2004) is partly based on this book.

A legendary capital of the arts, Paris hosted some of the most legendary developments in world culture -- particularly at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the flowering of fauvism, cubism, dadaism, and surrealism. In Bohemian Paris, Dan Franck leads us on a vivid and magical tour of the Paris of 1900-1930, a hotbed of artistic creation where we encounter Apollinaire, Modigliani, Cocteau, Matisse, Picasso, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald, working, loving, and struggling to stay afloat. 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations are featured. --from the publisher

Dan Franck
Dan Franck est un écrivain français, né en 1952 à Paris.

Il fait des études en sociologie à l'Université de la Sorbonne, et fait quelques petits boulots avant de commencer ce qui lui tient à cœur, le métier d'écrivain. Il reçoit le prix du premier roman en 1980 pour Les calendes grecques. Dan Franck écrit aussi en collaboration avec d'autres auteurs tels que Jean Vautrin ou Enki Bilal. En plus d'être écrivain, il est aussi scénariste pour le cinéma et la télévision. --http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Franck [May 2006]

See also: 1900s - 1910s - 1920s - bohemian culture - Paris

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: Coffeehouses, Enlightenment, the public sphere and mass media

In search of the public sphere.

Jürgen Habermas wrote extensively on the concept of the public sphere, using accounts of dialogue that took place in coffeehouses in 18th century England. It was this public sphere of rational debate on matters of political importance, made possible by the development of the bourgeoise culture centered around coffeehouses, intellectual and literary salons, and the print media that helped to make parliamentary democracy possible and which promoted Enlightenment ideals of equality, human rights and justice. The public sphere was guided by a norm of rational argumentation and critical discussion in which the strength of one's argument was more important than one's identity.

According to Habermas, a variety of factors resulted in the eventual decay of the bourgeois public sphere of the Enlightenment. Most importantly, structural forces, particularly the growth of a commercial mass media, resulted in a situation in which media became more of a commodity – something to be consumed – rather than a tool for public discourse. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habermas#The_public_sphere [Apr 2006]

See also: Jürgen Habermas - public - coffeehouses - enlightenment - mass media

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: Digressions in fiction

Digression is a section of a composition or speech that is an intentional change of subject.

In literature, the digression (not to be confused with subplot) was a substantial part of satiric works of the 18th century. Works such as Jonathan Swift's A Tale of a Tub, Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy and Diderot's Jacques le fataliste et son maître made digressiveness itself a part of the satire. Sterne's novel, in particular, depended upon the digression, and he wrote, "Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine; -- they are the life, the soul of reading; -- take them out of this book (Tristram Shandy) for instance, -- you might as well take the book along with them." This use of digression as satire later showed up in Thomas Carlysle's work. The digression was also used for non-satiric purposes in fiction. In Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, the author has numerous asides and digressive statements that are a side-fiction, and this sort of digression within chapters shows up later in the work of Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Herman Melville, Victor Hugo and others. The novels of Tolstoi, J.D. Salinger, Marcel Proust, Henry Miller, Milan Kundera and Robert Musil are also full of digressions.

In late twentieth-century literature (in postmodern fiction), authors began to use digressions as a way of distancing the reader from the fiction and for creating a greater sense of play. John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman and Lawrence Norfolk's Lempriere's Dictionary both employ digressions to offer scholarly background to the fiction, while others, like Gilbert Sorrentino in Mulligan Stew, use digression to prevent the functioning of the fiction's illusions. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digression [May 2006]

See also: satire - novel - fiction

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: Momus (1450s) - Leon Battista Alberti

In search of laughter.

Momus (1450s) - Leon Battista Alberti [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Momus is the most ambitious literary creation of Leon Battista Alberti, the famous humanist-scientist-artist and "universal man" of the Italian Renaissance. In this dark comedy, written around 1450, Alberti charts the lively fortunes of his anti-hero Momus, the unscrupulous and vitriolic god of criticism. Alberti deploys his singular erudition and wit to satirize subjects from court life and politics to philosophy and intellectuals, from grand architectural designs to human and divine folly. The possible contemporary resonance of Alberti's satire--read variously as a humanist roman-à-clef and as a veiled mockery of the mid-Quattrocento papacy--is among its most intriguing aspects. While his more famous books on architecture, painting, and family life have long been regarded as indispensable to a study of Renaissance culture, Momus has recently attracted increasing attention from scholars as a work anticipating the realism of Machiavelli and the satiric wit of Erasmus. This edition provides a new Latin text, the first to be based on the two earliest manuscripts, both corrected by Alberti himself, and includes the first full translation into English. --from the publisher

Momus or Momos, in Greek mythology the god of satire, mockery, writers, poets, a spirit of evil-spirited blame and unfair criticism. His name is related to 'blame' and 'censure'. He is depicted in classical art as lifting a mask from his face. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momus [Apr 2006]

Leone Battista Alberti
Leone Battista Alberti (Genoa, February 14, 1404 – April 25, 1472, Rome) was an Italian painter, poet, linguist, philosopher, cryptographer, musician, architect, and general Renaissance polymath . His life was described in Giorgio Vasari's Vite. In Italy, his first name is usually spelled Leon. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leone_Battista_Alberti [Apr 2006]

See also: Renaissance - satire - 1400s

2006, May 01; 19:05 ::: The Irresponsible Self : On Laughter and the Novel (2005) - James Wood

In search of laughter.

The Irresponsible Self : On Laughter and the Novel (2005) - James Wood [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Most comedy before the rise of the novel is Aristotelian in nature. Aristotle argues in the Poetics that comedy arises from a perceived defect or ugliness that should not be so painful that we feel compassion, since compassion is the enemy of laughter. The Renaissance theorist of laughter, Laurent Joubert, in his Traité du ris (1579), expanded on Aristotle by arguing that ugliness and the lack of strong emotion were crucial to comedy. In order for comedy to work we must in the end feel a pleasure at the lack of our compassion. Thus, when a man is stripped of his clothes, the sight of his genitals is shameful and ugly, and is yet "unworthy of pity", so we laugh. --http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/classics/story/0,6000,1201864,00.html [May 2006]

James Wood (literary critic)
James Wood was born in Durham, England, in 1965, and educated at Eton College on a choral scholarship and Jesus College, Cambridge, where he read literature.

Wood is noted for coining the genre term hysterical realism, which he uses to denote the contemporary conception of the "big, ambitious novel" that pursues vitality "at all costs." Hysterical realism describes novels that are characterized by chronic length, manic characters, frenzied action, and frequent digressions on topics secondary to the story. In response to an essay Wood wrote on the subject, author Zadie Smith described hysterical realism as a "painfully accurate term for the sort of overblown, manic prose to be found in novels like my own White Teeth…" --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Wood_%28critic%29 [Apr 2006]

Negative review by The Reading Experience blog
It doesn't bother me in the least that James Wood approves of psychological realism and the creation of the "irresponsible self" more than any other technique a writer of fiction might choose to employ. To each his own where taste in fiction is concerned. However, Wood's overriding critical precept, that things were done much better back when, that the way things were done then is the only right way, performs no service (no useful service, at least) for the cause of contemporary fiction whatsoever. --http://noggs.typepad.com/the_reading_experience/2004/10/james_wood.html [May 2006]

See also: laughter - comedy - self

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