Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place


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By E. Prieto - E. Prieto

Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place - eBook

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The Western genre provides the most widely recognized, iconic images of masculinity in the United Also, the almost innumerable textual references to very well-known places like Paris would seem to render any geocritical analysis impossible. By examining the ways that certain kinds of social space come into being as places for interpretation, this sort of geocriticism offers intriguing opportunities for understanding how literary representation and spatiality interconnect.


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In my own view, geocriticism would have to move beyond a geocentric method, returning to philological and historical approaches that might also include examinations of single authors, texts, genres, or periods, in order to address the protean spaces of literature. But it should also be clear that the aims of geocriticism are best served by decidedly comparative literary studies, since the spaces and their representation to be geocritically analyzed are also established in their tentative but recognizable shapes through the related effects of multiple artists, languages, and historical forms.

The relations between space and literature, mapping and writing, description and narration, are as complex and numerous as they are interesting. To attempt to know a place, one maps it, but one also reads it and narrates it. And, one might add, vice-versa. That is, a literary work becomes infused with the places that it explores, places that make it what it is. As narratives move across borders, which by their very nature they inevitably do, those spaces and places become all the more significant.


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  7. Comparative literature discloses the degree to which even familiar places are made strange in the process of reading or mapping them, and the multiple and diverse points of view taken into account by any comparative study will highlight the alterity inherent in literary representation, as well as in our comportment to the world itself. We provide for ourselves transcendental figurations of what we think is the original of this animating gift: mother, nation, god, nature. Through literature, we encounter this alterity, incorporating its very strangeness into who we are, but also recognizing throughout the simultaneously alluring and unsettling otherness of the places and experiences depicted.

    Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place (Hardcover)

    Of course, all fiction, no matter how realistic, maintains the power of estrangement that can make possible alternative prospects. Although geocriticism may certainly focus attention on this or that particular place, or on a recognizable type of place, geocriticism does not rely upon, or even admit as possible, any stable, unchanging geographic identity. The mythic stability or static identity of a particular city, region, nation, or continent is belied by the diverse literary representations of such apparently identifiable geographical ensembles.

    Spatially-oriented approaches to comparative literature can open up new vistas, establish different vantages, and disclose alternative prospects for mapping the real-and-imagined spaces of the world in which we live. The prospects of comparative literature are, in an almost literal sense, fantastic.

    Which brings me at last to my title, which I take from the final words of J.

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    Yet it is in fact written in a language that after many centuries has still essential kinship with our own, it was made in this land, and moves in our northern world beneath our northern sky, and for those who are native to that tongue and land, it must ever call with a profound appeal — until the dragon comes.

    The power of literature resides in its defamiliarizing effects, in that productive alienation that makes us begin to question our own former certainties, or in the exploration of spaces hitherto unknown, spaces which we had thought homely, but which turn out to be profoundly foreign and suddenly novel.


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    Where the dragon appears, one is irremediably in another world. And yet, in the apprehension or even just the glimpse of the fantastic otherworld, the reader encounters the spaces of the so-called real world afresh, seeing them quite differently.

    The productive alterity of comparative literature makes possible hitherto undisclosed prospects, and with a geocriticism attuned to the places unexpectedly rendered visible by this experience, literary critics can begin to sketch new maps. Frank, Joseph. The Idea of Spatial Form. Jameson, Fredric.

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    London: Verso, Prieto, Eric. Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place. New York: Palgrave Macmillan,

    Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place
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    Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place
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