Book picks similar to
Serendipities: Language and Lunacy by Umberto Eco
The Uses of Literature
Italo Calvino - 1980
His fascination with myth is evident in pieces on Ovid's Metamorphoses and the separate odysseys that make up Homer's Odyssey. Three intertwined essays on French utopian socialist Fourier present him as a precursor of Women's Lib, a satirist and visionary thinker whose scheme for a society in which each person's desires could be satisfied deserves to be taken seriously. In other pieces, Calvino brings a fresh, unpredictable approach to why we should reread the classics, how cinema and comic strips influence writers, and the cartoon universe of Saul Steinberg. His message is that writers need to establish erotic communion with the humdrum objects of everyday reality.
After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation
George Steiner - 1975
In the original edition, Steiner provided readers with the first systematic investigation since the eighteenth century of the phenomenologyand processes of translation both inside and between languages. Taking issue with the principal emphasis of modern linguistics, he finds the root of the Babel problem in our deep instinct for privacy and territory, noting that every people has in its language a unique body of shared secrecy. Withthis provocative thesis he analyzes every aspect of translation from fundamental conditions of interpretation to the most intricate of linguistic constructions. For the long-awaited second edition, Steiner entirely revised the text, added new and expanded notes, and wrote a new preface setting the work in the present context of hermeneutics, poetics, and translation studies. This new edition brings the bibliography up to the present with substantiallyupdated references, including much Russian and Eastern European material. Like the towering figures of Derrida, Lacan, and Foucault, Steiner's work is central to current literary thought. After Babel, Third Edition is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand the debates raging in theacademy today.
A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
Roland Barthes - 1977
Rich with references ranging from Goethe's Werther to Winnicott, from Plato to Proust, from Baudelaire to Schubert, A Lover's Discourse artfully draws a portrait in which every reader will find echoes of themselves.
Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything
David Bellos - 2011
Using translation as his lens, David Bellos shows how much we can learn about ourselves by exploring the ways we use translation, from the historical roots of written language to the stylistic choices of Ingmar Bergman, from the United Nations General Assembly to the significance of James Cameron's Avatar.Is That a Fish in Your Ear? ranges across human experience to describe why translation sits deep within us all, and why we need it in so many situations, from the spread of religion to our appreciation of literature; indeed, Bellos claims that all writers are by definition translators. Written with joie de vivre, reveling both in misunderstanding and communication, littered with wonderful asides, it promises any reader new eyes through which to understand the world. In the words of Bellos: "The practice of translation rests on two presuppositions. The first is that we are all different: we speak different tongues, and see the world in ways that are deeply influenced by the particular features of the tongue that we speak. The second is that we are all the same—that we can share the same broad and narrow kinds of feelings, information, understandings, and so forth. Without both of these suppositions, translation could not exist. Nor could anything we would like to call social life. Translation is another name for the human condition."
The Educated Imagination
Northrop Frye - 1963
Dr. Frye offers, in addition, challenging and stimulating ideas for the teaching of literature at lower school levels, designed both to promote an early interest and to lead the student to the knowledge and kaleidoscopic experience found in the study of literature.Dr. Frye's proposals for the teaching of literature include an early emphasis on poetry, the "central and original literary form," intensive study of the Bible, as literature, and the Greek and Latin classics, as these embody all the great enduring themes of western man, and study of the great literary forms: tragedy and comedy, romance and irony.
Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human
Harold Bloom - 1998
A landmark achievement as expansive, erudite, and passionate as its renowned author, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human is the culmination of a lifetime of reading, writing about, and teaching Shakespeare. Preeminent literary critic-and ultimate authority on the western literary tradition-Harold Bloom leads us through a comprehensive reading of every one of the dramatist's plays, brilliantly illuminating each work with unrivaled warmth, wit and insight. At the same time, Bloom presents one of the boldest theses of Shakespearean scholarships: that Shakespeare not only invented the English language, but also created human nature as we know it today.
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
Erich Auerbach - 1942
A brilliant display of erudition, wit, and wisdom, his exploration of how great European writers from Homer to Virginia Woolf depicted reality has taught generations how to read Western literature. This new expanded edition includes a substantial essay in introduction by Edward Said as well as an essay, never before translated into English, in which Auerbach responds to his critics.A German Jew, Auerbach was forced out of his professorship at the University of Marburg in 1935. He left for Turkey, where he taught at the state university in Istanbul. There he wrote "Mimesis," publishing it in German after the end of the war. Displaced as he was, Auerbach produced a work of great erudition that contains no footnotes, basing his arguments instead on searching, illuminating readings of key passages from his primary texts. His aim was to show how from antiquity to the twentieth century literature progressed toward ever more naturalistic and democratic forms of representation. This essentially optimistic view of European history now appears as a defensive--and impassioned--response to the inhumanity he saw in the Third Reich. Ranging over works in Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and English, Auerbach used his remarkable skills in philology and comparative literature to refute any narrow form of nationalism or chauvinism, in his own day and ours. For many readers, both inside and outside the academy, "Mimesis" is among the finest works of literary criticism ever written.
The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays
Mikhail Bakhtin - 1975
The Dialogic Imagination presents, in superb English translation, four selections from Voprosy literatury i estetiki (Problems of literature and esthetics), published in Moscow in 1975. The volume also contains a lengthy introduction to Bakhtin and his thought and a glossary of terminology.Bakhtin uses the category "novel" in a highly idiosyncratic way, claiming for it vastly larger territory than has been traditionally accepted. For him, the novel is not so much a genre as it is a force, "novelness," which he discusses in "From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse." Two essays, "Epic and Novel" and "Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel," deal with literary history in Bakhtin's own unorthodox way. In the final essay, he discusses literature and language in general, which he sees as stratified, constantly changing systems of subgenres, dialects, and fragmented "languages" in battle with one another.
Politics and the English Language
George Orwell - 1946
The essay focuses on political language, which, according to Orwell, "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." Orwell believed that the language used was necessarily vague or meaningless because it was intended to hide the truth rather than express it.
Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction
Jonathan D. Culler - 1997
Jonathan Culler, an extremely lucid commentator and much admired in the field of literary theory, offers discerning insights into such theories as the nature of language and meaning, and whether literature is a form of self-expression or a method of appeal to an audience. Concise yet thorough, Literary Theory also outlines the ideas behind a number of different schools: deconstruction, semiotics, postcolonial theory, and structuralism, among others. From topics such as literature and social identity to poetry, poetics, and rhetoric, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction is a welcome guide for anyone interested in the importance of literature and the debates surrounding it.About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read
Pierre Bayard - 2007
(In fact, he says, in certain situations reading the book is the worst thing you could do). Using examples from such writers as Graham Greene, Oscar Wilde, Montaigne, and Umberto Eco, he describes the varieties of "non-reading"—from books that you've never heard of to books that you've read and forgotten—and offers advice on how to turn a sticky social situation into an occasion for creative brilliance. Practical, funny, and thought-provoking, How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read is in the end a love letter to books, offering a whole new perspective on how we read and absorb them. It's a book for book lovers everywhere to enjoy, ponder, and argue about—and perhaps even read.Pierre Bayard is a professor of French literature at the University of Paris VIII and a psychoanalyst. He is the author of Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? and of many other books. Jeffrey Mehlman is a professor of French at Boston University and the author of a number of books, including Emigré New York. He has translated works by Derrida, Lacan, Blanchot, and other authors.
Metaphors We Live By
George Lakoff - 1980
Metaphor, the authors explain, is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of countless other subjects. Because such metaphors structure our most basic understandings of our experience, they are "metaphors we live by", metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them.In this updated edition of Lakoff and Johnson's influential book, the authors supply an afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.