Synopses & Reviews
Miniature books, eighteenth-century novels, Tom Thumb weddings, tall tales, and objects of tourism and nostalgia: this diverse group of cultural forms is the subject of On Longing, a fascinating analysis of the ways in which everyday objects are narrated to animate or realize certain versions of the world. Originally published in 1984 (Johns Hopkins University Press), and now available in paperback for the first time, this highly original book draws on insights from semiotics and from psychoanalytic, feminist, and Marxist criticism. Addressing the relations of language to experience, the body to scale, and narratives to objects, Susan Stewart looks at the andquot;miniatureandquot; as a metaphor for interiority and at the andquot;giganticandquot; as an exaggeration of aspects of the exterior. In the final part of her essay Stewart examines the ways in which the andquot;souvenirandquot; and the andquot;collectionandquot; are objects mediating experience in time and space.
andquot;Stewart's work provides an oasis in contemporary criticism, a place where theory and poetry, systematic reflection and the essayistic plunge into particular cases, come together in a refreshing synthesis.andquot;andmdash;W. J. T. Mitchell
andquot;The historical richness, psychological insight and sociological subtlety of the analyses Stewart develops in On Longing are exemplary for cultural studies.andquot;andmdash;Barbara Herrnstein Smith
Miniature books, eighteenth-century novels, Tom Thumb weddings, tall tales, and objects of tourism and nostalgia: this diverse group of cultural forms is the subject of On Longing, a fascinating analysis of the ways in which everyday objects are narrated to animate or realize certain versions of the world.
In this book, based on unpublished lectures delivered at the University of Cambridge, the late John Hollander explores the poetic lives and afterlives of shadow, focusing on British and American poetry from the Renaissance to the end of the twentieth century. Hollander uncovers the myriad literary identities assumed by shadow—its force as a metaphoric mirror, as material for parable, a form of knowledge, and a mode of vision. He shows us what kind of thinking can be done with and in shadow, and what love of shadow amounts to. In particular, he traces the history of how shadows acquire in poetry a mysterious substance—the paradoxical means through which a thing, by nature secondary and passing, grabs at authority and becomes itself a source of life. In Hollander’s poetic examples, shadow shows itself as a kind of light, clarifying things as much as it darkens them, even as it becomes a name for doubt and the unnamable. Hollander and the poets he discusses give us shadow as companion, comforter, and questioner; creator, stalker, and ghost; witness, destroyer, and double. If the book’s argument suggests at moments an anatomy of melancholy, the shadow here is also an occasion of continuous wonder, an opening to the gifts of time.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 193-204) and index.
About the Author
Susan Stewart, Professor of English at Temple University, is the author of Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation and Nonsense: Aspects of Intertextuality in Folklore and Literature.