Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature
Below is a list of in-print works in this collection, presented in series order or publication order as applicable.
Contexts of Criticism
Harry Levin has approached his subject from three different points of view: working definitions, historical and semantic attempts to define such central concepts of criticism as “classicism,” “realism,” and “tradition”; notations on novelists, reevaluations of Joyce, Proust, Balzac, Cervantes, Melville, and Hemingway; long views, discussion of such matters as the symbolic interpretation of literature, the development of literary criticism during the past century, and various European attitudes toward contemporary American writers.
Comparative Studies in Greek and Indic Meter
Fictions of Romantic Irony
Through an analysis of six major European narratives of the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, this book makes a new approach to romantic irony by envisaging it in a broad European context in relation both to earlier concepts of irony and to traditional uses of irony in narration.
The Taming of Romanticism: European Literature and the Age of Biedermeier
Looking at a broad spectrum of writers, Nemoianu offers here a coherent characterization of the period 1815–1848. This he calls the era of the domestication of romanticism. The explosive, visionary core of romanticism is seen to give way—after the defeat of Napoleon—to an expanded and softer version reflecting middle-class values.
Literary Structure, Evolution, and Value: Russian Formalism and Czech Structuralism Reconsidered
Striedter provides a dynamic introduction to and critique of Russian Formalism and Czech Structuralism. He makes clear the pathbreaking contribution of these European schools to modern literary theory and criticism, placing them in their contemporary contexts and at the same time relating them to ongoing debates in America.
Mi-Lou: Poetry and the Labyrinth of Desire
Mi-Lou is literally “The Palace of Going Astray,” a pleasure labyrinth built by a Chinese emperor in the early seventh century; whoever entered the Mi-Lou became so entranced that he never wanted to leave. On that architectural model, Stephen Owen’s new book explores poetry from various cultures and historical periods, addressing issues of eros in both Chinese and Western poetry, putting poems together that have no right to be together but are somehow more vivid for their conjunction.
Death in Quotation Marks: Cultural Myths of the Modern Poet
Subjects without Selves: Transitional Texts in Modern Fiction
The Way of Oblivion: Heraclitus and Kafka
Schur takes us from philosophy to literature and back in a sustained examination of a fundamental philosophical metaphor: the way or path of method. Through close readings of texts by Heraclitus, Plato, Heidegger, Blanchot, and Kafka, he follows the development of a rhetorical commonplace into a distinctly Heraclitean paradox of method.
The Story of 0: Prostitutes and Other Good-for-Nothings in the Renaissance
This work unfolds the idea of “nothing” out of a Titian painting of Danaë and the shower of gold. Jaffe’s philological and pictorial argument links, across several languages, such seemingly disparate concepts as money, coins, mothers (through the mint’s matrix), subjects, courtiers, prostitutes (through etymologies that join minting, standing-under, standing-for), ciphers, codes, and the codex form. This ambitious book is a cultural history of the “cipher” zero as code and as nothing, as the absence of value and the place-holder constructing value. It traces the wide-ranging implications of “nothing”—not only in mathematics but also in literature.
Original Subjects: The Child, the Novel, and the Nation
Original Subjects explores the interweaving of the child-hero and the fortunes of a nation as these are portrayed in a wide selection of novels and national narratives in the French and English traditions.
Soliciting Darkness: Pindar, Obscurity, and the Classical Tradition
In discussing both poets and scholars from a broad historical span, with special emphasis on the German legacy of genius, Soliciting Darkness investigates how Pindar’s obscurity has been perceived and confronted, extorted and exploited. As such, this study addresses a variety of pressing issues, including the recovery and appropriation of classical texts, problems of translation, representations of lyric authenticity, and the possibility or impossibility of a continuous literary tradition.
Visions of Persia: Mapping the Travels of Adam Olearius
This work examines the travel account of a German baroque author who journeyed in search of silk from Northern Germany, through Muscovy, to the court of Shah Safi in Isfahan. Olearius introduced Persian culture to the German-speaking public; his appraisal of Persian customs prepares the way for German Romanticism’s infatuation with Persian poetry.
The Ascension of Authorship: Attribution and Canon Formation in Jewish, Hellenistic, and Christian Traditions
Tracing the history of the idea of the author beginning with attribution practices of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism, Wyrick argues that the fusion of Jewish and Hellenistic approaches to attribution helped lead to Augustine’s reinvention of the writer of scripture as an author whose texts were governed by both divine will and human intent.
Medieval Joke Poetry: The Cantigas d’Escarnho e de Mal Dizer
This book examines the intersection of jokes, laughter, insults, and poetry in a collection of 13th- and 14th-century medieval Iberian songs. Liu shows how these jokes operate in such varied cultural contexts as the arts of augury and divination, pilgrimage, prostitution, interfaith sexuality, and medical malpractice.
Thin Culture, High Art: Gogol, Hawthorne, and Authorship in Nineteenth-Century Russia and America
In the early-nineteenth-century a perceived absence of literature in Russia and America gave rise to grandiose notions of literature’s importance. This book examines how two traditions worked to refigure cultural lack, not by disputing it but by insisting on it, by representing the nation’s (putative) cultural deficit as a moral and aesthetic advantage. Through a comparative study of Gogol and Hawthorne, this book examines parallels that seem particularly striking when we consider that these traditions had virtually no points of contact.
Hyperboles: The Rhetoric of Excess in Baroque Literature and Thought
This book offers a detailed, comparatist defense of hyperbole in the Baroque period. Focusing on Spanish and Mexican lyric (Góngora, Quevedo, and Sor Juana), English drama (King Lear and translations of Seneca), and French philosophy (Descartes and Pascal), Christopher D. Johnson reads Baroque hyperbole as a sophisticated, often sublime, frequently satiric means of making sense of worlds and selves in crisis and transformation. Grounding his readings of hyperbole in the history of rhetoric and literary imitation, Johnson traces how rhetorical excess acquires specific cultural, political, aesthetic, and epistemological value. Hyperboles also engages more recent critiques of hyperbolic thought (Wittgenstein, Derrida, and Cavell), as it argues that hyperbole is the primary engine of a poetics and metaphysics of immanence.