The Comparative History of European Literatures, published by John Benjamins, includes five volumes on Romanticism which culminate
with comprehensive studies of the non-fictional and the fictional prose of the period. All five volumes document Romanticism
as a pan-European movement sharing literary motifs and topoi across national boundaries. Of special significance in the last
two volumes is the close examination of genre new to the period and the rapidity with which new forms of non-fictional prose
influenced corresponding innovation in fictional narrative. Prominent among the emergent forms of prose fiction were the detective
story, the Bildungsroman, the Gothic tale and the case study of mental pathology.
The essay engages only narratorial strategies that are manifestations of essential features of the minimalist narrative in
contemporary American fiction. Minimalism reduces text-level agency through narratorial functional disorders (devices that
block those functions) and limits them further, even effaces them completely, in figural narratives whose focalizer is an
inarticulate character. The consequential psyche (if the narrator is of this type) and phenomenological presentation together
can result in almost complete information blackout in some works by Joy Williams, Jay McInerney, or Bret Easton Ellis.
The essay constructs minimalism in contemporary American fiction as both an extension of postmodernism and a revolt against
it, a new development. It means that minimalism is a response to the same (i.e., postmodernist) view of the world, but the
same philosophical conclusions regarding the postmodern nature of the world result in a radically different ars poetica. In
the minimalist writer’s aesthetic decisions, the postmodernist habit is the real generative factor – it is the hidden ideological
core of the postmodernist worldview that plays the really decisive role in the postmodernist-convictions-and-minimalist-aesthetic-
Modern Chinese literature is most open in the history of Chinese literature, with various Western literary currents and cultural
trends flooding into China. As the most important and popular genre in Chinese literature, modern Chinese novel has been developing
under the Western influence, and it has played a vital role in flourishing modern Chinese literature and enlightening modern
Chinese intellectuals and the broad reading public. To the author, toward the end of the nineteenth century, Chinese literature
was almost “marginalized”. In order to resume its lost grandeur it moved from periphery to centre by identifying itself with
Western cultural modernity or modern Western literature. To realize this grand and ambitious aim, translating novel became
an important task. In dealing with the Western influence, the author also reperiodizes twentieth-century Chinese literature:
modern literature started with the May 4th Movement in 1919 and ended in 1976; since 1976, Chinese literature has been in
the contemporary era, which is characterized by more postmodern than modern. In this global context, Chinese fiction writing
has become part of world literature and been developing in a pluralistic direction.
The unstable genre of Rousseau’s
set in motion a movement between biography and narration, testimony and poetic fiction in the wake of Montaigne. In his
, Rousseau builds up a space where he is composed by refraction and displacement. The autobiographical process of writing is a kind of dialectical process between the subject writing about himself and the grammatical person that pertains to language.
Dating probably from the 6th century, this work relates the story of the conversion of Xanthippe and Polyxene, but the plot took place much earlier, at the time of the apostles. Four of them actually figure in the story, including among others St Paul. The anonymous author clearly follows the literary tradition of the apocryphal acts of the apostles. On the other hand, however, he was deeply influenced by another form of art, namely by the lives of saints. Consequently, the apostles are relegated into the background in the story, and the author concentrates above all on Xanthippe and Polyxene, that is, instead of the evangelists on the mental and psychological process of the conversion of the would-be Christians. And since it is very doubtful, whether his heroines ever existed, he employs the narrative methods and devices he found in ancient fiction, in the pagan romances or Christian novels.
The essay studies Shen Congwen’s urban fictions in the literary contexts of his native-soil fiction and contemporary urban
fiction by the Shanghai school in modern Chinese literature. It argues that Shen Congwen’s urban and rural writings demonstrate
a profound irony: his perception of the disappearing rural idyllic and his panoramic representation are achieved through a
modern sensibility as well as his disenchantment with the city, while his urban imagining/representation betrays an agrarianist
distrust of the city, part of an age-old anti-urban Confucian thinking. His ambivalent attitude towards modernity also betrays
a sense of loss in terms of his historical position regarding how to understand fundamental changes of his time as epitomized
by the city. Nevertheless, Shen’s urban fiction has registered the initial efforts in modern Chinese literature in coming
to grips of the modern city as it was emerging from its traditional form to become the locus of modernity and site of fundamental
socioeconomic and cultural transformation.