Literary Symbiosis: The Reconfigured Text in Twentieth-Century Writing (Paperback)David Cowart (author)
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In works exhibiting literary symbiosis, Cowart notes, intertextuality surrenders its usual veil of near invisibility to become concrete and explicit-a phenomenon that Cowart sees as part of the postmodern tendency toward self-consciousness and self-reflexivity. He recognizes that literary symbiosis has some close cousins and so limits his compass to works that are genuine reinterpretations, writings that cast a new light on earlier works through ""some tangible measure of formal or thematic evolution, whether on the part of the guest alone or the host and guest together."" Proceeding from this intriguing premise, he offers detailed readings of texts that range from Auden's ""The Sea and the Mirror,"" based on The Tempest, to Valerie Martin's reworking of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as Mary Reilly, to various fictions based on Robinson Crusoe. He also considers, in Nabokov's Pale Fire, a compelling example of text and parasitic-text within a single work..
Drawing on and responding to the ideas of disparate thinkers and critics-among them Freud, Lacan, Derrida, Harold Bloom, Hillis Miller, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.-Cowart discusses literary symbiosis as Oedipal drama, as reading and misreading, as deconstruction, as Signifying, and as epistemic dialogue. Although his main examples come from the contemporary period, he refers to works dating back to the classical era in a range of genres. The study of literary symbiosis, Cowart contends, can reveal much about the dynamics of literary renewal in every age. If all literature redeems the familiar, he suggests, literary symbiosis redeems the familiar in literature itself.
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 399 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
Cowart attempts with admirable success to give shape and definition to particular kinds of intertextuality and then proceeds to examine some instances with insight and originality in several works.--Modern Fiction Studies
An excellent look at a central feature of literature. . . . Although Cowart's study focuses on the explicitly symbiotic text, he does so with the intent of showing 'a number of features common to all literature, and thereby to suggest that what at first seems an anomaly is ultimately something at the heart of the matter.'--Choice
Literary Symbiosis offers brilliant individual readings in the context of a theoretically expansive structure that has wide-ranging implications. It is an engaging and important book.--American Studies International
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