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Mannerist Fiction

Mannerist Fiction: Pathologies of Space from Rabelais to Pynchon

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 200
  • Book Info
    Mannerist Fiction
    Book Description:

    InMannerist Fiction, William Donoghue re-conceptualizes the history of formalism in western literature.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6976-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[2])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    The following study examines the idea of “deformation,” and in particular deformations of the body, mind, and text in certain Western authors between the times of Copernicus and Einstein. I use the phrase “Mannerist fiction” in my title because the primary objects of study here will be literary fictions, and because I want to connect these deformations to the re-visioning of space in Mannerist painting in the early cinquecento. In bringing into juxtaposition “formalism” and the school of painting I would ask whether the former is not better understood as a type of artistic practice like the latter, rather than...

  4. Part 1 Big People and Little People:: Two Cases of Disproportion

    • 1 Rabelais and Mannerism
      (pp. 23-35)

      In Western Europe circa 1500 space changed, and the availability of maps allowed people to see it changing. They were fascinated.The Cosmographiae, for example, were writings about the cosmos that had been appearing with some regularity well before Copernicus published On the Revolutions in 1543. They included information on geography, history, and natural science in addition to astronomy, and were liberally illustrated with maps. The earliest and best known was by Petrus Apianus, which appeared in 1524 at the peak of interest in accounts of the explorers, and it went through fifteen editions. Readers were interested both in the...

    • 2 Swift and Commensuratio
      (pp. 36-52)

      It took about sixty years for the echo of Copernicus to return. It came finally in the work of Galileo, who used the telescope to prove his precursor had been right. Galileo’s first interest had not been astronomy per se, but the tides. In 1595 he realized that Copernicus’s “theory” explained how they worked. Ten years later he was studying the phases of Venus and found that they too confirmed what Copernicus had said. In 1613 he published a work on sunspots in which he explicitly mentioned Copernicus’s “theory” as not a theory but a fact. At this point the...

  5. Part 2 Pathologies of Deformation:: Jonson, Sade, Pynchon

    • 3 Narcissism: Jonson and the Disfigured Self
      (pp. 55-68)

      The “Elizabethan world picture” may not have been quite as stable as E.M. Tillyard’s 1942 book implied, but it is certainly free of the kind of spatial anxieties that defined the Mannerist art of Rabelais’s day.¹ Nor do Jonson’s plays exhibit anything remotely similar to the spatial incommensurabilities we find in either Rabelais or Swift, with their fantastical measurements of big and small. Jonson’s deformation is one of mind, as it is in Sade and Pynchon, and I would like to discuss it as such – in clinical terms (in Jonson’s case), as narcissism, through the lens of a psychological spatial...

    • 4 Sade and the Deformed Body
      (pp. 69-83)

      The idea of deformation in Sade is usually understood in psychological terms that are normative in nature, referring to his mind and morals, and those of his libertine characters. That is, Sade’s psychology, or what we loosely call sadomasochism, is judged a perversion of normal, healthy sexuality, and this forms the basis for our understanding of his fiction, which we then read as a symptom of this abnormality – much the way we looked at narcissism in Jonson and how it is “bodied forth” in the object world of his stage. In this chapter, by contrast, I would like to examine...

    • 5 Hysteria: Pynchon’s Cartoon Space
      (pp. 84-104)

      The realization that space is not a fact but a necessary fiction (a form of perception, as Kant called it) dates back to the ancient Greeks. Like the heliocentric hypothesis, which has a similarly ancient pedigree, the idea had to wait until the early sixteenth-century Mannerist period for conditions to be right for it to be understood. From that moment, space and time in fiction became demonstrably fungible, and the notion of “form,” in a Kantian sense, came alive for painters and writers, and the public at large. “Formalism” was born as an idea, both empirical and aesthetic (Mannerist space),...

  6. Part 3 Back to the Future:: From Picasso to Aristotle

    • 6 Modernism and Mannerism
      (pp. 107-129)

      The bi-spatial nature of Pynchon’s writing is its main feature. Postmodernists in general are more interested in deformations of space than time. And in that regard they seem to bear out William Burroughs’s contention that “the future of writing is in space, not time” (quoted in the epigraph to the introduction to this volume). In the earlier modernist period, by contrast, the more traditional division of powers still held, where writers dealt in time, and painters in space. But this was the age of Einstein, and his claim about space and time being a single continuum is reflected in the...

    • 7 Space and Time for the Ancients
      (pp. 130-146)

      Formalism as praxis (rather than theory) in the life of the mind, body, and text has been a steady baseline in the preceding chapters, from the time of Copernicus through Newton to the age of Einstein and Picasso. The modernist moment in this long history was not the first, but it is the one closest to us, and so the one we are most familiar with. It is the moment of Heidegger and Bergson, whose work on time and temporality is central to an understanding of the formalist practices of writers like Faulkner, Joyce, Woolf, and Mann in the twenties....

  7. Notes
    (pp. 147-166)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 167-178)
  9. Index
    (pp. 179-185)