World Literature IIRenaissance to the Present Dr. Michael Broder University of South Carolina January 31, 2012
Daily Write #7Rabelais says that Gargantua’s father Grandgousier, with hiswife Gargamelle, “often played the two-backed beast together,happily stroking their bacon” (p. 216). Shakespeare’s Iago tellsDesdemona’s father Brabantio that Othello and Desdemona“are now making the beast with two backs” (1.1.115). Whatdoes this phrase mean? Do you think Shakespeare borrowed itfrom Rabelais? If so, how does the difference in context affectthe meaning, if at all? That is, is Shakespeare practicing the samekind of grotesque realism in the same kind of carnival context,or is he doing something different?
Socialist Realism• After 1934, literature and art in the Soviet Union, by official state decree, were required to be – Proletarian = relevant to the workers and understandable to them – Typical = scenes of every day life of the people – Realistic = strictly representational of “real life” (no science fiction, fantasy, or supernatural elements) – Partisan = supportive of the aims of the Soviet State and the Communist Party• Boccaccio, Rabelais, and Shakespeare might all have been banned according to this definition of acceptable literature
Anglo-European Realism• Beginning in the 19th century, literature and art in England and the United States, by a combination of social standards and legal censorship, were under social, political, and legal pressure to be – Relevant to affluent white men and their families – Patriarchal and heteronormative – Supportive of the aims of the wealthy and powerful in government and business• How do Boccaccio, Rabelais, and Shakespeare fit these expectations for Anglo-American literature?
Anglo-European Realism• Relevant to affluent white men and their families – No racial or ethnic minorities or women except in subordinate positions• Patriarchal and heteronormative – Men are in charge, the only acceptable kind of intimacy is marriage, the only acceptable kind of marriage is between a man and a woman• Supportive of the aims of the wealthy and powerful in government and business – No poor or working-class people as heroes, only as villains or passive recipients of the charity of the wealthy and powerful
Would you want to read stories only about people who…• Are wealthy, privileged, elite?• Predominantly white, male, married to a woman, successful in business, and conservative in politics?• Spiritual, idealistic?• Always talk about ideas, never about people, places, things, or real life?• Always well-fed, never hungry or thirsty?• Always healthy, never sick?• Always in suits or dresses, never jeans or sandals?• Never eat, drink, piss, shit, have sex, or give birth?
Chacun à son goût Each to his or her own taste. As educatedcitizens of a democracy, however, should you understand and appreciate the full range ofliterary, artistic, and cultural expressions that are part of the human experience?
“Appreciate” can mean to value or admire, but it also means:• To grasp the nature, worth, quality, or significance of something• To judge something with heightened perception or understanding• To be fully aware of something (not closed off to it or willfully ignorant of it)
Laughter’s the property of man. –François Rabelais
Othello: Identification• Author = William Shakespeare – Nationality: British – Dates: (1564–1616)• Title = Othello• Genre = Play, drama, tragedy
Authors and Texts1. Giovanni Boccaccio (Italian, 1313-1375), The Decameron2. François Rabelais (French, 1494-1553), Gargantua and Pantagruel3. William Shakespeare (British, 1564-1616), Othello4. Molière (French, 1622-1673), Tartuffe5. Denis Diderot (French, 1713-1784), Jacques The Fatalist6. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German, 1749-1832), The Sorrows Of Young Werther7. Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russian, 1821-1881), Notes From Underground8. Virginia Woolf (British, 1882-1941, Mrs. Dalloway9. Wisława Szymborska (Polish, b. 1923), Miracle Fair10. Tomas Tranströmer (Swedish, b. 1931), Half-finished Heaven
A World of Rapid and Radical Change• Black Death (1348-1350)• Boccaccio’s Decameron (1353)• Coluccio Salutati comes to Florence (1396)• Western Schism (1378)• Council of Constance (1417)• Thomas More’s Utopia (1516)• Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses (1517)• Erasmus & Christian Humanism (1466–1536)• Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-1564)• Shakespeare’s Othello (1603)• Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1615)
Quick-and-Dirty Plot Summary• Othello, a Moor, is a respected general in the service of Venice• Iago is Othello’s ensign (junior officer) but aspires to higher rank• Othello promotes the Cassio to lieutenant and Iago is jealous• Iago plots to use his knowledge of Othello’s relationship with Desdemona against him• Othello is sent to Cyprus by the Venetian Senate to fight a Turkish invasion• Iago convinces Othello that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio• Othello kills Desdemona• Iago’s wife Emilia tells Othello the truth about Iago’s scheme and Desdemona’s innocence• Othello wounds Iago; Iago kills Emilia; Othello kills himself