This book focuses on literal and metaphorical ruins, as they are appropriated and imagined in different forms of writing. Examining British and American literature and culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the book begins in the era of industrial modernity with studies of Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Henry James and Daphne Du Maurier. It then moves on to the significance of ruins in the twentieth century, against the backdrop of conflict, waste and destruction, analyzing authors such as Beckett and Pinter, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton and Leonard Cohen. The collection concludes with current debates on ruins, through discussions of Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht, as well as reflections on the refugee crisis that take the ruin beyond the text, offering new perspectives on its diverse legacies and conceptual resources.
Taking as a point of departure Lord Byron’s reflections on the meaning of the ruined Parthenon, this essay traverses the long legacy of ruin-thinking in the Anglo-American imagination, and argues for its relevance to the present day. Referencing earlier and recent strands in the rich scholarship on the trope of the ruin, the authors contextualize the essays of the volume; particular emphasis is laid on the volume’s especial focus on the ruin as metaphor and as a historical materiality, as these are probed in individual chapters that discuss ruin and ruination across British and American literature, continental theory and philosophy.
In Act 2 Scene 2 of Richard II, Bushy advises the Queen against ‘looking awry’ upon the King’s departure, comparing her gaze first to a perspective glass and then to a perspective picture that appears distorted unless viewed at an angle. I rely on this metaphor of anamorphosis to examine two recent productions of Richard II in Athens, both of which ‘distort’ the text and situate it in a bleak context. Viewed from the angle of the current political discontent, the 2014 and 2016 adaptations, directed by Elli Papakonstantinou and Efi Birba respectively, assume distinct meaning for the Athenian audience.
Troilus and Cressida: A Critical Reader offers an accessible and thought-provoking guide to this complex problem play, surveying its key themes and evolving critical preoccupations. Considering its generic ambiguity and experimentalism, it also provides a uniquely detailed and up-to-date history of the play's stage performance from Dryden's rewriting up to Mark Ravenhill and Elizabeth LeCompte's controversial 2012 production for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Wooster Group.Moving through to four new critical essays, the guide opens up fresh perspectives on the play's iconoclastic nature and its key themes, ranging from issues of gender and sexuality to Elizabethan politics, from the uses of antiquity to questions of cultural translation, with particular attention paid on Troilus' “Greekness”.
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