New Comparisons in World Literature

Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010

Authors: Bower, Rachel

  • Navigates between formalist criticism and context-based criticism
    Examines a carefully selected group of key texts from a broad spectrum of Anglophone literature
    Takes an original approach to twentieth century literature by focusing on the under-studied genre of the epistolary novel

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  • ISBN 978-3-319-58166-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
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  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $109.99
price for Brazil
  • ISBN 978-3-319-58165-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book examines the striking resurgence of the literary letter at the end of the long twentieth century. It explores how authors returned to epistolary conventions to create dialogue across national, linguistic and cultural borders and repositions a range of contemporary and postcolonial authors never considered together before, including Monica Ali, John Berger, Amitav Ghosh, Michael Ondaatje and Alice Walker. Through a series of situated readings, the book shows how the return to epistolarity is underpinned by ideals relating to dialogue and human connection. Several of the works use letters to present non-anglophone material to the anglophone reader. Others use letters to challenge policed borders: the prison, occupied territory, the nation state. Elsewhere, letters are used to connect correspondents in different cultural and linguistic contexts. Common to all of the works considered in this book is the appeal that they make to us, as readers, and the responsibility they place on us to respond to this address.
By taking the epistle as its starting point and pursuing Auerbach’s speculative ideal of weltliteratur, this book turns away from the dominant trend of ‘distant reading’ in world literature, and shows that it is in the close situated analysis of form and composition that the concept of world literature emerges most clearly. This study seeks to re-think the ways in which we read world literature and shows how the literary letter, in old and new forms, speaks powerfully again in this period.

About the authors

Rachel Bower is Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, UK. She is currently writing a book entitled Transcultural Collaboration: Poets of Leeds and Nigeria Unite, 1950-1970. She has a PhD from the University of Cambridge. She writes regularly for academic journals and magazines and publishes her poetry widely. She is currently co-editing a Special Issue of English Studies on Tony Harrison with Jacob Blakesely, and co-ediitng a poetry anthology with Helen Mort (Moons on Glass, 2017).

Reviews

“This book, like the literary letters it examines, is intelligently attuned to the intimate to-and-fro between author and reader, in particular what happens when this dialogue takes place across fraught historical and political lines. Addressing why novelists from across the world returned to the epistolary form at the end of the long twentieth century, Bower closely analyses an impressive range of authors to show how and why words travel from I to you.” (Dr Jonathan Ellis, Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield, UK)

“This lucid and original book explores the relationships between the epistolary novel, the world and postcolonial literature with a keen, critical eye and a nuanced concern for the material productions of texts, focusing on detailed readings as well as a wider global background. In doing so, Bower both reviews and reforms part of the field, and so this book should be read by those with an interest in the contemporary novel, postcolonialism and literary theory more generally.” (Professor Robert Eaglestone, Royal Holloway University of London, UK)

“Theoretically bold and unafraid to make compelling aesthetic judgments, Epistolarity and World Literature is among those rare and valuable books that make a serious attempt to overcome the gap between close reading and historical context, between formal structure and social structure, literary object and literary field.” (Professor Nicholas Brown, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

  • Introduction

    Bower, Rachel

    Pages 1-29

  • PrisonLetters prison Letters and Epistolary Encryption: John Berger’s From A to X (2008)

    Bower, Rachel

    Pages 31-67

  • Searching for Letters in the Archive: Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land Ghosh, Amitav In an Antique Land (1992) and Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion Ondaatje, Michael In the Skin of a Lion (1987)

    Bower, Rachel

    Pages 69-106

  • Writing to the FutureEpistolary Writing to the Future : J.M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron Coetzee, J.M. Age of Iron (1990)

    Bower, Rachel

    Pages 107-136

  • The Limits of the Letter: Alice WalkerWalker, Alice ’s The Color Purple Walker, Alice the Color Purple (1982)

    Bower, Rachel

    Pages 137-166

Buy this book

eBook $84.99
price for Brazil (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-58166-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $109.99
price for Brazil
  • ISBN 978-3-319-58165-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010
Authors
Series Title
New Comparisons in World Literature
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-58166-8
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-58166-8
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-58165-1
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XII, 215
Number of Illustrations and Tables
2 b/w illustrations
Topics