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Perspectives on Contemporary Literature

Perspectives on Contemporary Literature: Literature and the Other Arts

Editor David Hershberg
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 112
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  • Book Info
    Perspectives on Contemporary Literature
    Book Description:

    Today's music, painting, and film share with literature in the development of a new aesthetic, even as these other arts influence (and are influenced by) literary themes and structures. And at the same time the music and art of the past continue to re-echo in twentieth-century letters.

    The thirteen essays gathered here open a fine and varied view of the ways in which contemporary literature interacts with the other arts. Surrealism in French painting and literature, collage theory and the cutups of William Burroughs, texts of Butor as shaped by works of Duchamp -- this volume offers a rich harvest of perceptive studies on these and other aspects of a fascinating topic.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6301-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[i])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 1-2)
  3. Le statut de l’image dans l’écriture et la peinture surréaliste
    (pp. 3-10)
    Martine Antle

    Avec ses développements divers dans tous les domaines artistiques, le surréalisme n’a jamais été exclusivement un phénomène litteraire. La mise en scène deParade(1911) de Cocteau, en collaboration avec Picasso, Eric Satie, Darius Milhaud et les Ballets Russes, en témoigne. Avec comme point de départ un mouvement visuel, le surréalisme et ses différents modes d’expression a répondu á certains impératifs communs: un appel á la spontanéité de I’expression artistique, á l’automatisme graphique aussi bien que verbal et au dévoilement de ce que Breton appelle “les paysages interieurs’. Les travaux collectifs issus des expériences des “sommeils”¹ présentent le dessin et...

  4. George Perec’s Un Cabinet d’amateur: Portrait of the Artist as Iconoclast
    (pp. 11-17)
    Paul J. Schwartz

    George Perec’s last novel,Un Cabinet d’amateur,¹ published in 1979, represents an effort to climb out from under the shadow of his 1978 masterwork,La Vie mode d’emploi.In a June, 1981, interview, Perec refers to the obsessive weight ofLa Vie:“J’ai du mal á m’en sortir. C’est d’ailleurs la raison pour laquelle je n’ai pratiquement rien écrit depuis deux ans.” Addressing directly the relationship between his last two novels, he adds, “J’ai écritUn Cabinet d’amateur,récit que j’ai publié aprésLa Vie mode d’emploi.C’est un tableau qui représente une collection de tableaux et chaque tableau est...

  5. Myths in Sutor’s Passage de Milan: Works of Mondrian and Duchamp as Generators of the Text
    (pp. 18-23)
    Claude-Marie Baldwin

    Passage de Milan,Michel Butor’s first novel, contains an unfolding of Christian and Egyptian myths within the context of therite de passagein which plastic arts, letters, hieroglyphs, squares, crosses, serve as intermediaries to these myths; naturalistic and abstract paintings function as passages leading to a Butorian awareness of a complex reality.

    In this essay I shall deal with two contrasting myths. The first addresses the grid of the ordered world ofPassage de Milanin relationship to Piet Mondrian’s work. The second myth will concentrate on Marcel Duchamp’s The Passage from the Virgin to the Bride and The...

  6. Duchamp’s Early Readymades: The Erasure of Boundaries between Literature and the Other Arts
    (pp. 24-32)
    Carol P. James

    Beginning in 1913 Marcel Duchamp created what he came to call “readymades,” objects that are associated with a text which may be a title or an inscription on the object itself. A reading of such works must proceed through both their visual and textual elements, and all the readymades may be read as a category within the artist’soeuvreor as a new ‘genre’ of art/literature artifact. Duchamp himself named the receiver of such items, and of all (his) art the “regardeur,”¹ one who both reads and looks. To ask whether the readymade is a work of visual art or...

  7. The caméra-stylo of Marguerite Duras: The Translation of a literary Aesthetic into Film
    (pp. 33-40)
    Janice Morgan

    Ever since Alexandre Astruc’s 1948 announcement concerning the birth of a new avant-garde in cinema—a phenomenon he christened as the age of la caméra-stylo—certain iconoclastic filmmakers have been expanding the dimensions of the cinematic medium to include domains formerly believed to belong exclusively to written literature. In the same landmark essay, Astruc proposes that filmmakers stop making “supposed (but fallacious) concessions to the requirements of the cinema”² and begin exploring the unique capacities of film to serve as a vehicle for the expression of thoughts and moods. In this regard, it is interesting to consider the work of...

  8. Contrastive Characterization in Verga’s I Malavoglia and Visconti’s La Terra trema
    (pp. 41-49)
    Emmanuel Hatzantonis

    Luchino Visconti was not the first director to be attracted by Verga’s fiction. With the exception of his masterpieces,I Malavoglia and Mastro-don Gesualdo,conceded by their own author to be uncinematic “pel gusto ... di questo pubblico,” his short stories (for instance,Cavalleria rusticanaandCaccia al lupo) and novels (such as,Tigre reale and II marito di Elena) were eagerly sought out from the beginning of the silent movie era.¹ Visconti was the first, however, to carry out the plans that a group of young cinematographers had conceived during and immediately after World War II in order to...

  9. Political Satire through Popular Music and a Popular Vision of Reality: La Linares, a New Novel from Ecuador
    (pp. 50-57)
    C. Michael Waag

    The Ecuadorian novel has come a long way since Juan Léon Mera published his RomanticCumandáin 1879, but it has never matched the high degree of international visibility achieved in the 1930s through the Grupo de Guayaquil of the Ecuadorian coast or through Jorge Icaza and theIndigenistasof the Ecuadorian highlands. In fact, with the striking exceptions of Enrique Gil Gilbert’sNuestro pan(1941), Demetrio Aguilera-Malta’sLa isla virgen(1942), and Angel Felicimo Rojas’El éxodo de Yangana(1949), the production of long fiction generally fell off during the 1940s and, excluding a few works of historical fiction...

  10. A Portrait of the Writer as Artist: Silvina Ocampo
    (pp. 58-64)
    Patricia N. Klingenberg

    Writers often use other arts such as painting, sculpting or music as metaphors for their own creative task. Silvina Ocampo, herself an artist as well as a short story writer, follows this tradition by making frequent reference in her stories to various types of artistic endeavors. An examination of art and of artists which appear as characters in Ocampo’s fiction may shed light on the aesthetics which govern her written work; it may also provide clues to the issues of gender in Ocampo’s writing, “ese no sé qué femenino” mentioned by Eduardo González Lanuza in 1949.

    To do this, however,...

  11. To Have a Voice: The Politics of the Diva
    (pp. 65-72)
    Susan J. Leonardi

    The subject of this passage, Armgart, is an opera singer and the eponymous heroine of a little read, long out-of-print verse drama by George Eliot.¹ Armgart’s story, short and sad, lays bare the central problem of the nineteenth-century woman—she has no voice.

    Music theorist Eva Rieger explains that women were barred from “high” music from the middle ages until the seventeenth century “when women first stepped onto the opera and concert stage as singers” (133). Aside from this role, however, and, for less talented or retired singers, the role of music teacher, women even well into this century had,...

  12. Simulation, Gender, and Postmodernism: Sam Shepard and Paris, Texas
    (pp. 73-82)
    Stephen Watt

    While sometimes altered or cut in production, the inaugural moments of Tennessee Williams’A Streetcar Named Desire(1947) both establish definitions of gender prevalent in contemporary American culture and replicate the trajectories of several recent sociological (“environmental”) explanations of engenderedness.¹ Recall the scene: dressed in denim work clothes and “bellowing” to his wife, Stanley Kowalski swaggers around the corner and heaves a blood-stained package of meat to Stella, who obediently emerges from their apartment onto a landing. This simple action foreshadows subsequent conflict in Williams’ play and, as I hope to demonstrate, suggests a line of inquiry into representations of...

  13. The Architecture of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose
    (pp. 83-90)
    D. B. Jewison

    Labyrinths have been built of stone and mortar, or even shrubs, or drawn on cathedral floors, but some cannot be built outside the imagination. The ambivalent conclusion of Umberto Eco’sThe Name of the Rosesuggests that possibly it is the ones that exist in the mind alone that supply us with the most accurate metaphors for the world as we now find it. Certainly, that is the conclusion William of Baskerville reaches, although he might be an imperfect semiologist.

    Some editions of the novel come with a plan of the fourteenth-century Italian monastery where the monks are dying from...

  14. Collage Theory, Reception, and the Cutups of William Burroughs
    (pp. 91-100)
    Laszlo K. Géfin

    In attempting to formulate a theoretical and practical context for his method of writing, William’S. Burroughs has repeatedly made reference to the collage compositions of the Dadaists and Surrealists as the direct antecedents of the cutup. As he wrote inThe Third Mind,co-authored by Burroughs and the painter-collagist Brion Gysin, “Writing is fifty years behind painting. I propose to apply the painters’ technique to writing; things as simple and immediate as collage or montage. Cut right through the pages of any book or newsprint ... lengthwise, for example and shuffle the columns of text” (34). Although the cutup was...

  15. Eine Kleine Wortmusik: The Marriage of Poetry and Music in the Pisan Cantos
    (pp. 101-109)
    Margaret M. Dunn

    Poetry and music, often called the “sister arts,” are yet so different as to make the construction of a viable analogy between them impossible. As Leonard Bernstein amply demonstrated in a series of televised lectures at Harvard University some years ago, an analogous relationship between poetry and music can be demonstrated up to a point in terms of rhythm and dynamics; after reaching that point, however, the analogy breaks down(Unanswered Question).Yet Bernstein’s purpose in his lectures was not only to demonstrate the differences between the two art forms but also to point out that much poetry is indeed...

  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 110-112)