On the Jacobean dramatist John WEBSTER. From A Literary History of England, ed. Albert C. Baugh. Book II (The Renaissance, 1500-1660) was written by Tucker Brooke and Matthias A. Shaaber.
John Webster (28) was no traditionalist, as Dekker and Heywood were, and cannot be grouped with them without some blurring of his uniqueness; but he cannot be classed, either, with the more typical Jacobeans. He was neither a satirist, a defeatist, nor an escapist, and the tone of his greatest works allies him more closely with Shakespeare and Marlowe than with any of his more exact contemporaries. The record of his life is almost non-existent and the bibliography of his writings exceptionally obscure and fragmentary; two strange facts, since his prefaces indicate that hardly even Jonson had a serener confidence in the merits of his work, and the emphasis the publishers gave his name on the title-pages is equal to that they gave to Shakespeare's. The complimentary verses which Middleton, Rowley, and Ford all wrote for The Duchess of Malfi are a rare tribute to great (and it would appear, broadly recognized) achivement.
Webster is first mentioned in Henslowe's Diary in 1602 as author of various plays which have now disappeared. One of them, Lady Jane (viz., Grey), can probably be traced in Sir Thomas Wyat, printed in 1607 as by Dekker and Webster. It is a loose chronicle play, in casual verse and prose, and is most akin to the first part of Heywood's If You Know Not Me, which it likewise resembles in being preserved in a very faulty text (29). In 1604 Webster wrote for Shakespeare's company the famous induction to Marston's Malcontent, which, unfortunately brief as it is, gives a priceless view of what went on during a performance at the Globe. About the same time he collaborated with Dekker again in two city comedies for the Children of Paul's, Westward Ho! and Northward Ho! The former received a notable accolade from Ben Jonson in the prologue of the oppositely-named Eastward-Ho!
For that was good, and better cannot be
They are lively and well-plotted pieces, both in prose and both dealing with the amorous amusements of London wives. It is naturally impossible to recognize in them the later Webster, but they do not appear to be overwhelmingly Dekker's work (30). They are quite devoid of the caustic satire which was the fashion of the day, and, though the language and situations are pungent enough, the moral in both plays is the unfashionable one that the citizens' wives are a good deal better than their reputations. The loss of Webster's play of Guise is much to be deplored. He evidently thought well of it, bracketing it with The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi in the dedication of his Devil's Law-Case. It was most likely founded on Marlowe's Massacre at Paris and would probably emphasize the Maralovian strain in Webster. His fame rests now almost wholly upon the two tragedies just mentioned, which are like no other plays of the period.
The White Devil
The White Devilwas acted by the Queen's Company (Heywood's) and printed in 1612. It concerns the rather recent case of Vittoria Accoramboni, Duchess of Bracciano, who lived from 1557 to 1585. By following the available accounts of her brief and stormy life Webster could have produced a much more plausible tragedy than the one he wrote (31); but Webster is never plausible, and when he varies from his sources usually does so in order to emphasize the brutal irrationality of life, and thus increases his constructional difficulties. Vittoria in his play is neither white nor a devil. Her complicity in her husband's murder, though morally certain, is not avowed, and in the great scene of Act III, in which she is arraigned before Cardinal Monticelso and the embarrassed ambassadors, Webster allows her all the honors of the conflict. It is a scene that John Fletcher may be thought to have done well to copy a year or two later, when he wrote Katharine of Aragon's defense of herself before Cardinals Wolsey and Campeius (32). Vittoria has a brother, Flamineo, who is one of the most bloodcurdingly real villains in English drama, and a mother, Cornelia, who is one of its most pathetic creations, a kind of ancient Ophelia. Webster works with terror and pity, undiluted, and in copious ouptorings. He employs ghosts and horrid dumbshows after the manner of the early Senecans, and has many of the grisliest stage deaths in literature. Isabella dies by kissing a poisoned picture of her husband. Camillo's neck is broken by his companions while vaulting, Brachiano is killed by a poisoned helmet (the pain driving him mad), Marcello is without warning run through the body by his brother in their mother's presence; Vittoria, Zanche, and Flamineo are all stabbed after a scene in which Flamineo has most horribly pretended to be shot with pistols. The deaths pile up so lawlessly that one is tempted to retort upon the author the last question of the play:
By what authority have you committed This massacre?
But between these are small and moving voices that protest and point the pity of it; for instance, the boy Giovanni's talk with his uncle (III.i) and Cornelia's mad song (V. i),
Call for the robin readbreast and the wren, Since o'er shady groves they hover, And with leaves and flowers do cover The friendless bodies of unburied men.
The Duchess of Malfi
The Duchess of Malfi, which was acted by Shakespeare's company about 1613 and revised a little later, is a better play because, along with as much terror, it has more pity, and so gives Webster's view of life in better balance. The plot, derived from Bandello through Painter and based on very early sixteenth-century history, has been made as absurd as possible. The duchess, contracting a marriage of love with her honest and knightly master of the household, must keep it secret from her two domineering brothers, who have planted a super-spy, Bosola, in her palace to inform them of just such matters. An average detective would do Bosola's business in a day, but in this play the obvious is never discernible. Years pass, while Bosola pries and plots. Children are born and almost grow to maturity in the way Sidney deplored, before the wicked brothers find a motive for their cruelty. The fourth act is wholly devoted to the duchess's death, and may well be the greatest death scene in Elizabethan literature. The fifth act, which presents six deaths more, should be anticlimax, but is kept aloft by Webster's mastery of the macabre.
The business of Webster's plays almost carries one back to the work of Kyd, but his strange art is far more intelligent. His style is curiously unrhythmic, except in the songs which crash in, like the trumpets of doom, upon the cacopohonies of mundane speech. His dialogue is often patched with sayings from Sidney, Montaigne, or Donne, which he had stored in his notebooks (33), and he sometimes introduces formal "characters" such as he was writing for the Overbury collection (34). His view of life is Elizabethan rather than Jacobean in the sharp distinction he maintains between good and bad and the straightforwardness with which he faces death and horror. He is one of the most romantic of dramatists. Life, he teaches, is a labyrinth. "Wish me good speed," says the Duchess near the beginning of her play,
For I am going into a wilderness, Where I shall find no path nor friendly clue To be my guide.
The only constant is death, up to which he leads his characters relentlessly, and dismisses them under tha glare of death's great illumination. He makes no theological assertions, but the reading of him is a kind of religious experience, and if any affinity for him must be sought among the Stuart writers, it will be found in such mystic poets as Herbert or Vaughan. Webster, too, seems constantly to be whispering,
Dear, beauteous death, the jewel of the just, Shining nowhere but in the dark, What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust, Could man outlook that mark! (35)
No one, however, is more like him than Shakespeare's in the latter's darkest moods, and the play that most resembles Webster's two tragedies is King Lear. Lear says something very like "I am Duchess of Malfi still" (36), and Gloster parallels Bosola's cosmic despair,
We are merely the star's tennis-balls, struck and bandied Which way please them. (37)
Webster's most famous line,
Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle; she died young,
may have had its cue in King Lear, v. iii. 242; and perhaps only Shakespeare can bedew his horror with such appeals to simple pity as the Duchess's
I pray thee, look thou giv'st my little boy Some syrup for his cold, and let the girl Say her prayers ere she sleep.
Webster's two later plays, The Devil's Law-Case (1623) and A Cure for a Cuckold (printed 1661)—the latter in unfortunate collaboration with Rowley—must be briefly dismissed; not because they are altogether inferior, but because Webster is here attempting tragicomedy and finds that medium too light for his hand. The chief figure of the Law-Case, Romelio, the wealthy merchant of Naples, who in one scene disguised as a Jew, is a not unworthy imitation of Marlowe's Barabas, and his mother and sister belong with Webster's greatest women. The long court scene (IV. ii), which occupies a fifth of the play, is comparable with the one in The White Devil, and some of Webster's most characteristic lines are in this play, as well as one of his greatest songs,
Courts adieu, and all delights, All bewitching appetites! Sweetest breath and clearest eye, Like perfumes, go out and die.
(28) See F. L. Lucas, Complete Works of John Webster (4v., 1927); E. E. Stoll, John Webster (Cambridge, Mass., 1905): Rupert Brooke, John Webster and the Elizaethan Drama (1916).
(29). See M. F. Martin, "If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody and The History of Sir Thomas Wyat," Library, XIII (1932). 272-281; W. L. Halstead, "Note on the Text of . . . Sir Thomas Wyatt," MLN XIV (1939). 585-589.
(30). See F. E. Pierce, The Collaboration of Webster and Dekker (1909).
(31). See B. Colonna, La nipote di Sisto V: il dramma di Vittoria Accoramboni (Milan, 1936), and Lucas's historical introduction, Works of Webster, I. 70-90.
(32). Henry VIII, III. i. Fletcher's additions to Holinshed's account may be presumed to come from Webster.
(33). See C. Crawford, Collectanea, I. 20-46, II. 1-63 (Stratford-upon-Avon, 1906, 1907).
(34). E.g. White Devil, III. ii 82-85) (ed. Lucas); Duchess of Malfi I. i. 157-166.
(35). Henry Vaughan, "They are all gone into the world of light."
(36). King Lear, IV. vi. 110, "Ay, every inch a king!"
Remember that paper of mine, "Consilience and Retrospection"— a narrative perspective (or retrospective) on the notion of consilience? On Whewell, Wilson, Gould & al. It's now being distributed by the SSRN, e.g. in the Literary Theory and Criticism eJournal:
El artículo en cuestión es aquél sobre "Retroperspectiva y perspicacia", a cuenta de Polibio y del curioso ensayo sobre "The Rise of Historical Criticism" de Oscar Wilde. Y va a aparecer mi artículo, al parecer, en otras revistas de otras redes académicas—por interdisciplinar que no quede.
Aquí mi bibliografía sobre cosas que empiezan por "I". Reaparecida en Docstoc. Ciertamente, la gente (o los robots) recopilan, convierten y editan las cosas más increíbles. Pero ahí está, y quizá esta lista tonta tenga más visitas en Docstoc que en su sitio original:
Khaitovich explicó que la sinaptogénesis , la base del aprendizaje y de la memoria en el cerebro en desarrollo, se caracteriza por la formación de sinapsis (forma de trasmitir la información entre neuronas), el fortalecimiento de conexiones útiles , y también la eliminación de las conexiones inútiles.
Los autores encontraron que en los seres humanos, la expresión de los genes sinápticos en la corteza prefrontal se ha retrasado hasta la edad de cinco años, a diferencia de los chimpancés y los macacos, que ha sido en el primer año de vida. Los autores señalaron que este cambio humano específico sólo se observó en la corteza prefrontal, y no en el cerebelo “Nuestros hallazgos sugieren que el cerebro humano sigue siendo extremadamente plástico y susceptible a la entrada del medio ambiente durante los primeros cinco años de vida”, dijo Khaitovich .
Son estos años de plasticidad extrema los años en los que se crea esa fusión particular entre la estructura cerebral y el medio social (incluido el lenguaje) que caracteriza a la especie humana, y le hace habitar no tanto un universo sensorial cuanto un universo semiótico, una realidad virtual o caverna platónica generada por el entorno sociocultural y simbólico en el que el cerebro se termina de construir.
Seguiremos atentos por lo tanto a estas explicaciones neurológicas que ayuden a entender la conectividad particular que caracteriza al pensamiento humano y le permite elaborar y comprender las integraciones y fusiones conceptuales, las metáforas, los símbolos y los signos lingüísticos.
Hay luego muchas listas más, de corpus o corpora, diccionarios, páginas web sobre lingüística o literatura, publicaciones periódicas, organismos y asociaciones, y otros recurso de interés. Pero en primera plana, "el menda." Será por lo del orden alfabético A, B—"A Bibliography"—que no se piensen que le puse el nombre al tuntún o por modestia, en lugar de, pongamos "The Bibliography," o, en francés, "Ze Bibliographie".
Otra cosa sí aparece de mi departamento—la revista Miscelánea, de la que, por cierto, también fui yo el que hizo la edición electrónica. O sea que aunque hay meses que tenga pocas clases, trabajar sí que trabajo, demasiado y todo—tanto, de hecho, que no hago carrera.
From The Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble.
Keats, John (1795-1821), the son of the manager of a livery stables in Moorfields, who died when he was 8; his mother remarried, but died of tuberculosis when he was 14. The oldest of the family, he remained deeeply attached to his brothers George and Tom and to his sister Fanny. He was well educated at Clarke's school, Enfield, where he began a translation of the Aeneid, and in 1810 was apprenticed to an apothecary-surgeon. His first efforts at writing poetry appear to date from 1814, and include an 'Imitation of Spenser'; his school friend Cowden-*Clarke recorded the profound effect of early reading of *Spenser. In 1815 Keats cancelled his fifth year of apprenticeship and became a student at Guy's Hospital; to the same year belong 'Ode to Apollo' and 'Hymn to Apollo'. In 1816 he was licensed to practise as an apothecary, but in spite of precarious finances abandoned the profession for poetry. In 1816 he also met Leigh *Hunt, who published in the same year in the *Examiner Keats's poem, 'O Solitude', and in the course of a survey of young poets in the same journal he included Keats's sonnet 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer'. Keats met *Shelley and *Haydon, began to plan *Endymion, and wrote 'I stood tiptoe upon a little hill' as a first effort towards that poem. His first volume of poems was published in March 1817. It included, among sonnets, epistles, and miscellaneous poems, 'I stood tiptoe upon a little hill' and 'Sleep and Poetry'. There were at first some pleasing reviews, but public interest was not aroused and sales were meagre; and in the autumn came the first of *Lockhart's harsh attacks in *Blackwood's, labelling Keats and his associates as members of the so-called *Cockney School. He finished the first draft of Endymion and during the winter of 1817-18 saw something of *Wordsworth and *Hazlitt, both of whom much influenced his thought and practice. In December Haydon gave his 'immortal dinner' whose guests included Wordsworth, *Lamb, and Keats. Endymion, dedicated to *Chatterton, whom Keats greatly admired, was published in the spring of 1818, and *'Isabella, or the Pot of Basil' finished in May. With his friend Charles Armitage Brown (1786-1842) Keats then toured the Lakes, spent July and August in Scotland, and included a brief visit to Northern Ireland. He had travelled frequently in southern England but he had never before seen scenery of rugged grandeur. It moved him deeply and he made full use of it when he came to write *Hyperion. Bitter attacks on Endymion came in the autumn from Lockhart in Blackwood's and from the *Quarterly Review. For the time being Keats concealed his pain and wrote to his brother George that, in spite of the review, 'I think I shall be among the English poets after my death', but his friends believe the wound was very deep. Meanwhile his brother Tom was vary ill and Keats spent much time with him. When Tom died in December Keats moved into his friend Brown's house in Hampstead, now known as Keats House. There, in the early winter, he met Fanny *Brawne, with whom he fell deeply in love, and with whom he remained in love until his death. During the course of the summer and autumn of 1818 his sore throats had become more frequent and persistent. Nevertheless September 1818 marked the beginning of what is sometimes referred to as the Great Year; he began Hyperion in its first version, abandoning it a year later; he wrote, consecutively, *'The Eve of St Agnes', 'The Eve of St Mark', the 'Ode to Psyche', *'La Belle Dame sans Merci', *'Ode to a Nightingale', and probably at about the same time the *'Ode on a Grecian Urn', 'Ode on Melancholy', and 'Ode on Indolence'; *'Lamia Part I', *'Otho the Great' (in collaboration with Brown); the second version of Hyperion, called The Fall of Hyperion, *'To Autumn', and 'Lamia Part II'. During this year he was beset with financial problems, both his own and those of his friends and relations, and intensely preoccupied with his love for Fanny, to whom he became engaged. In the winter of 1819 he began the unfinished 'The Cap and Bells', but he became increasingly ill with tuberculosis and his great creative work was now over. His second volume of poems, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes, and Other Poems, was published in July 1820, and included, as well as the title poems, the odes, Hyperion, 'Fancy', and other works. The volume was generally well received, gaining much praise in some quarters, with criticism from Blackwood's much muted, but the sales were very slow. Shelley invited Keats to Italy and in September, after sorting out his copyrights and financial affairs, Keats set off with his friend *Severn. They did not go to the Shelleys, but settled in Rome, where Keats died the following February. Keats has always been regarded as one of the principal figures in the *Romantic movement, and his stature as a poet has grown steadily through all changes of fashion. *Tennyson considered him the greatest poet of the 19th cent., and Matthew *Arnold commended his 'intellectual and spiritual passion' for beauty,; in the 20th cent. he has been discussed and reconsidered by critics from T. S. *Eliot and *Leavis to *Trilling (The Opposing Self, 1955) and Christopher Ricks (Keats and Embarrassment, 1974). His letters, published in 1848 and 1878, have come to be regarded with almost the admiration given to his poetry, to which many of them act as a valuable commentary. He wrote fully and revealingly to Fanny Brawne, to his brothers and ssiter, to Shelley, Leigh Hunt, Haydon, Severn, and many others, mixing the everyday evens of his own life with a lively and delicate interest in that of his correspondents, and displaying wit and high spirits as well as his profoundest thoughts on love, poetry, and the nature of man. T. S. Eliot described the letters as 'certainly the most notable and most important ever written by any English poet' (The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, 1933). The major biographies are by W. J. Bate (1963), R. *Gittings (1968), and Andrew *Motion (1997). Endymion,a poem in four books, by *Keats, written 1817, published 1818. The poem tells, with a wealth of epithet and invention, the story of Endymion, 'the brain-sick shepherd-prince' of Mount Latmos, who falls in love with Cynthia, the moon, and descends to the depths of the earth to find her. There he encounters a real woman, Phoebe, and giving up his pursuit of the ideal he falls in love with her. She, however, turns out to be none other than Cynthia, who, after luring him, weary and perplexed, through 'cloudy phantasms', bears him away to eternal life. With the main story are woven the legends of Venus and Adonis, of Glaucus and Scylla, and of Arethusa. The poem includes in Bk I the well-known 'Hymn to Pan', and in Bk IV the roundelay 'O Sorrow'. In his preface Keats describes the work as 'a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished'. It is a work, rich in luxuriant imagery, of an immature genius, the product of sensation rather than thought. The allegory, which is sometimes obscure, appears to represent the poet pursuing ideal perfection, and distracted from his quest by human beauty. The work was violently attacked in the *Quarterly Review and in *Blackwood's, in which *Lockhart described the poem as one of 'calm, settled, imperturbable drivelling idiocy'. Hyperion: A Fragment and The Fall of Hyperion, fragments of epic poems by *Keats written 1818-19. Hyperion was published 1820, The Fall of Hyperion not until 1856. In 1818 Keats gave up the effort to finish Hyperion, then began to rewrite and recast it as The Fall of Hyperion, but once again the effort was abandoned. In the first version, written as direct narrative, the tremendous figure of the fallen Saturn, conquered by Jove, mourns the loss of his kingdom, and debates with his fallen fellow Titans, in their craggy lair, how he may regain his kingdom. They conclude that only the magnificent Hyperion, who is still unfallen, will be able to help them. In Bk III the golden Apollo, god of music, poetry, and knowledge, speaks to the goddess Mnemosyne of his inexplicable anguish; hen, at the moment of his deification, the fragment ends. In the second version, the poet is in a luxuriant garden, where he drinks an elixir which induces a vision. He finds himself in a vast domed monument, then proceeds with pain and difficulty to climb the stair to the shrine of the priestess Moneta. Together they find the agonizing fallen Saturn, and with Mnemosyne and Thea they speak to him of his pain and loss. In despair he leaves with Thea to comfort his fellow Titans, while the poet and Moneta watch the magnificent, but much troubled, Hyperion blaze into the west. The precise meaning of the allegory is not always clear, but both poems have as their general theme the nature of poetry and the nature and development of the poet. It is not known why Keats abandoned what was to have been his great work, but one of his fears, expressed in a letter to his friend *Reynolds, was that his writing was too Miltonic. 'Isabella, or The Pot of Basil' ["Isabella, o la maceta de albahaca"], a narrative poem by *Keats, written 1818, published 1820. The poem is based on a story in Boccaccio's *Decameron. The worldly, ambitious brothers of Isabella intend that she shall marry a nobleman. When they discover her love for the humble Lorenzo they lure him away, murder him, and bury his body in a forest. His ghost then appears to Isabella and tells her where he is buried. With the help of her old nurse she finds his body, severs the head, and places it in a pot with a plant of basil over it. Her brothers, observing how she cherishes the plant, steal the pot, discover the mouldering head, and fly, conscience-stricken, into banishment. Pathetically Isabella mourns her loss, pines away, and dies. The poem reflects a contemporary fashion for the macabre, and *Lamb pronounced it the best work in the volume of poems of 1820, but Keats himself very soon came to dislike it. 'The Eve of St Agnes', a narrative poem in Spenserian stanzas by *Keats, written 1819, published 1820. The poem is set in a remote period of time, in the depths of winter. Madeline has been told the legend that on St Agnes's Eve maidens may have visions of their lovers. Madeline's love, Porphyro, comes from a family hostile to her own, and she is herself surrounded by 'hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords'. Yet he contrives to steal into the house during a ball on St Agnes's Eve, and with the aid of old Angela is secreted in Madeline's room, where he watches his love prepare for sleep. When she wakes from dreams of him, aroused by his soft singing, she finds him by her bedside. Silently they escape from the house, and fly 'away into the storm'. With its rich and vivid imagery, its heightened atmosphere of excitement and passion, the poem is generally regarded as among Keats's most successful works. 'La Belle Dame sans Merci', a ballad by *Keats, written 1819, published 1820, which describes a knight fatally enthralled by an elfin woman. Although Keats himself spoke of it lightly, critics and biographers have written of it at length, many concurring with Robert *Graves (The White Goddess, 1948) that 'the Belle Dame represented Love, Death by Consumption . . . and Poetry all at once'. It was much admired by the *Pre-Raphaelites and William *Morris asserted that 'it was the germ from which all the poetry of his group had sprung.' La Belle Dame sans mercy is also the title of a poem translated from *Chartier, attributed at one time to *Chaucer, but now thought to be the work of Sir Richard Ros. 'Ode on a Grecian Urn', a poem by *Keats, written 1819, published 1820.
While he describes the various pastoral scenes of love, beauty, and joy illustrated in the urn, the poet reflects on the eternal quality of art and the fleeting nature of human love and happiness. The last two lines are particularly well known and their meaning much debated: 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty'—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 'Ode to a Nightingale', a poem by *Keats, written 1819, published 1820. Keats's friend Charles Brown relates that a nightingale has nested near his house in Hampstead (now known as Keats House), and that on e morning Keats sat under a plum-tree in the garden composing his ode on 'some scraps of paper'. Briefly, the poem is a meditation on the immortal beauty of the nightingale's song and the sadness of the observer, who must in the end accept sorrow and mortality. 'To Autumn', a poem by *Keats, written Sept. 1819, published 1820. It was his last major poem, and although usually included in a discussion of the Odes (see under ODE), it was not so labelled by Keats himself. The poem, in three stanzas, is at once a celebration of the fruitfulness of autumn (lightly personified as a figure in various autumnal landscapes) and an elegy for the passing of summer and the transience of life, and its mood has been generally taken to be one of acquiescence. The association of autumn and early death in the mind of Keats is poignantly revealed in a letter to Reynolds (21 Sept. 1819), written immediately after the composition of the poem, in which he says, 'I always somehow associate Chatterton with the autumn'.
Nos presenta una nueva herramienta informática, nuestra Universidad, un mapa de la investigación que se llama Kampal. Y que trabaja sólo con los datos de SIDERAL, con lo cual no se incluye más que una parte pequeña de lo que se hace en la Universidad. Aparte, este Kampal parece presuponer que sólo se investiga en grupo, con lo cual los no agrupados o poco agrupados, como yo, ni aparecemos en la cuenta. De hecho, de todo mi departamento no aparece ningún dato—porque los criterios se basan en índices de citas que privilegian a las áreas científicas. O sea, que si se quieren hacer una idea más clara de lo que se trabaja en humanidades en mi universidad, o en mi órbita, no miren allí, que no verán nada. Por ejemplo, todo lo contenido en mi memoria de actividades de 2013—o en la de 2012, o la del año que quieran—es invisible para este buscador miope o selectivo.
Igual la idea es que nos pongamos las pilas y nos atengamos a los criterios que nos harán aparecer allí... pero lo veo un poco improbable en mi caso.
Claro que no quiero ser demasiado negativo. Toda herramienta, por limitada que sea, puede tener su utilidad. Normalmente, en detrimento de alguien y a favor de alguien—seguro que en tiempos de magra financiación puede utilizarse como argumento adicional para priorizar a los que aparecen en Kampal que, además, aparecen en Kampal. Se viene a ratificar, una vez más, que la investigación individual sobra en la Universidad—y esto puede ser una herramienta útil para invisibilizarla.
Book description: Psychologists view well-adjusted behavior as conformity—the ability to navigate relationships and events within a framework of societal rules and regulations. George Serban argues that a better test is how well an individual is able to navigate adverse situations by handling conformity’s ambiguities and incongruities. He uses clinical findings and content analysis to explore the interface between social conformity and nonconformist behaviors. The definition of the normal is itself problematic, since society’s expectations are sometimes controversial, arbitrary, or equivocal. As a result, people who have problems coping with social conformity choose between degrees of nonconformity or hiding under what Serban calls a "mask of normalcy." Further complicating matters is that some nonconformist attitudes are now seen as normal, supported by governmental policies tacitly favoring moral relativism. A multicultural society is crisscrossed by shades of controversial values and mores. New social codes of "correct" conduct blur the distinction between true and false, right and wrong; and social conflict simmers as a result. What society perceives as well adjusted may even change within a society over time, depending on prevailing social values. Some noticeable variations have been within male-female relationships and sexual morality. Serban ultimately concludes that those who have learned how to manipulate social situations are viewed as well adjusted. Those who have not are seen as struggling or maladjusted.
From The History Today Companion to British History, ed. Juliet Gardiner and Neil Wenborn:
Richard II (1367-1400), King of England (1377-99). Son of EDWARD THE BLACK PRINCE and JOAN OF KENT, the fact that he was still a boy at his accession in 1377 evokes sympathy, even from historians. So does the image of Richard grieving over the death of his wife ANNNE OF BOHEMIA in 1394, as does the tragic finale portrayed in Shakespeare's Richard II. But most—though not all—historians follow FROISSART in criticizing the king while sympathizing with the man.
After displaying courage in the face of the PEASANTS' REVOLT, in the next few years the youthful king became difficult for the senior politicians around him, notably JOHN OF GAUNT, to deal with. In particular, his distribution of patronage, especially his generosity to Robert DE VERE, was ill judged. In 1386, he tried to defy PARLIAMENT, but was forced to yield and watch while his minister Michael DE LA POLE was impeached and a commission was appointed to control the following year's expenditure and patronage. His response was to elicit from a panel of judges a definition of the royal PREROGATIVE in terms that declared that the parliamentary proceedings of 1386 had been illegal and that those who had promoted them should be punished as traitors. When the judges' opinions were leaked, a brief civil war followed, culminating in the battle of RADCOT BRIDGE.
In consequence, Richard found himself at the mercy of the APPELLANTS, and had to endure the humiliation of the MERCILESS PARLIAMENT (Feb. 1388)—but at least he avoided deposition. In 1389, he formally resumed control of government and, with Gaunt's help, ruled peacefully for eight years; in 1396, he made a 28-year truce with Frnace. The war over, he set himself the task of making the crown independent of the COMMONS in Parliament. Some historians see this as a 'progressive' policy, but it went hand in hand with the pursuit of vengeance for what had happened in 1388. By 1399, he was indeed a very wealthy king, but he had dispossessed a third of the upper nobility and had hounded to death his old enemies (including his uncle THOMAS OF WOODSTOCK).
At this stage, having alarmed all his subjects, he went to Ireland, and when Bolingbroke (see HENRY IV) and the PERCYS struck, no one would lift a finger to save him. He lost two armies in two weeks and surrendered at Conway, perhaps hoping for a repeat of 1387-9. Instead he was coerced into abdicating on 29 Sept. 1399 and then imprisoned. The following Jan., a plot to rescue him only revealed how little support he had and probably precipitated Henry IV's decision to have him murdered. His body remained at King's Langley until HENRY V had it reburied in WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
From The Penguin Shakespeare Dictionary, ed. Sandra Clark [with corrections]:
Richard II [full title, The Tragedy of King Richard the Second]. A historical play by Shakespeare, produced probably in 1595, and published in 1597. The deposition scene carried particular significance for Queen Elizabeth (whose right to the throne was questioned by a fair number of her subjects for most of her reign) and it was omitted in the first quarto (1597); however, by the time of the fourth quarto (1608) it was restored. It was probably this play which was given a special performance at the Globe Theatre on 7 February 1601, the day before Essex started his rebellion. It was paid for by Essex's supporters, but none of the actors was punished for putting it on. Shakespeare took material for the play from a number of sourdes but his main source was Holinshed's Chronicles (second edition, 1587), from which he took most of the names and events in his play, following, with certain alterations, Holinshed's account of the end of King Richard's reign from April 1398 to March 1400. In several instances he telescoped and rearranged the sequence of events for greater dramatic effect; the death of Gaunt, Richard's departure for Ireland, and the return of Bolingbroke from banishment all take place in a single scene (II.i) whereas in Holinshed they happen over a matter of months, and the events of Act IV are also compressed. The accusations of Bagot and Fitzwater were made on separate occasions in October  after the actual abdication of the king, which was in September, and the Abbot of Westminster's plan for conspiracy was not formed until December. Other changes from Holinshed reflect on Shakespeare's planning of the characterization in his play. He omits an episode in which Northumberland tricked Richard into an ambush on the way to Flint Castle that might have reflected badly on Bolingbroke, and he totally changes the ages of Northumberland's son, Henry Percy (Hotspur) and Bolingbroke's son, the future Henry V. Hotspur was in fact two years older than both Richard II and Bolingbroke, whereas in Richard II he is a youth; and Bolinbroke's son was only twelve in 1399, where Shakespeare has Bolingbroke speak of him as a dissolute young gallant. He used another chronicle, The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and Yorke (1548) by Edward Hall, for the point of departure of his play, since Hall's account of Richard II's reign also begins with the quarrel between Mowbray and Hereford, but for little otherwise. He knew the anonymous contemporary play, Woodstock, which deals with events from 1382 to 1899 and especially with the life of Richard II's uncle, Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Gloucester, who is referred to several times in Richard II, although critics have differed as to how far this play influenced him. Shakespeare also knew A Mirror for Magistrates  in which Richard II is presented as a proud and tyrannous king, a classic example of the idea that "lawles life, to lawles death ey drawes." Froissart's Chronicles, translated by Lord Berners in 1525, was also available to him, and from this he may have taken hints for the conception of Gaunt as a wise but rejected counsellor, for the important part Northumberland played in calling back Bolingbroke, and for Bolingbroke's popularity with the people, although he could have found these elsewhere. Two other French chronicles, the Chronique de la Traison et Mort de Richard Deux Roy Dengleterre and the Historie du Roy d'Angleterre Richard II by Jean Créton, both known to Holinshed and Hall, may have been used independently by Shakesepeare. The Traison is evidence of a tradition more favourable to Richard II than that of the Tudor chronicles, and it may have helped Shakespeare to form his relatively sympathetic portrait of Richard II, especially in the account of Richard's leave-taking from his Queen, although in the Traison this event takes place before Richard's departure for Ireland. From Créton may have come the comparison between Richard's betrayal and that of Christ. The Traison and Créton's account also influenced Samuel Daniel in his poem The First Fowre Bookes of the Civile Wars (1595), which is likely that Shakespeare knew and used. Many parallels between Richard II and Daniel's poem may be incidental, but Shakespeare seems to owe to Daniel the concpetion of the Queen—she was in fact a child of nine at the time—and he may also have used Daniel for the account of the contrasted entries of Richard and Bolingbroke into London (V.ii). Marlowe's Edward II may well have provided some ideas and inspiration in its treatment of the fall of a weak monarch.
King Richard II John of Gaunt Edmund of Langley, Duke of York Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Herefrod, later Henry IV Duke of Aumerle Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, Duke of Surrey Earl of Salisbury Lord Berkeley Bushy Bagot Green Earl of Northumberland Henry Percy (Hotspur) Lord Ross Lord Willoughby Lord Fitzwater Bishop of Carlisle Abbot of Westminster Lord Marshal Sir Stephen Scroop Sir Pierce of Exton Captain of a band of Welshmen Queen to King Richard Duchess of Gloucester Duchess of York Lady attending on the Queen Lords, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, Gardeners, Keeprs, Messenger, Groom, other Attendants The Story. In the presence of the King, Bolingbroke accuses Mowbray of causing the death of the Duke of Gloucester. It is agreed that each man may defend his honour in a tournament, but just as each is about to attack the other, the king halts the proceedings and banishes them both. Sjhortly afterwards, upon the death of John of Gaunt (Bolingbroke's father), Richard seizes his estates in order to finance an Irish campaign. The additional evidence of Richard's disregard for the rights of his nobles arouses the ire of both York and Northumberland, and the latter, with other nobles, goes to join Bolingbroke (who has returned, despite his exile, to claim his dukedom). When Richard returns from Ireland, he learns that his army has dispersed and his favourites, Busby and Green, have been executed by Bolingbroke. Richard takes refuge in Flint Castle, and when Bolingbroke meets him there (ostensibly to claim his estates) submits to being taken as a prisoner to London. Before Parliament, he is forced to confess his crimes against the state, and despite the protests of the Bishop of Carlisle, he hands over his crown to Bolingbroke, who is already acting as King. Aumerle, the son of York, has meanwhile plotted against the new ruler. When York discovers this he hastens to inform Bolingbroke, but Aumerle and his mother, York's wife, plead for and are granted clemency. Richard is imprisoned in Pomfret Castle, where he is murdered by Sir Pierce of Exton (who believes that Bolingbroke wishes Richard's death). Bolingbroke expresses regret for the murder and vows to lead a crusade to ease his conscience. In its theme, the play explores an issue which was to tear England apart half a century later: the basis of royal authority, whether derived directly from God or from the consent of the people and the effective exercise of power.
From the Oxford Dictionary of Shakespeare, by Stanley Wells with James Shaw.
Richard II Shakespeare's history play was first published in *quarto in 1597. Richard's abdication (IV. i. 153-323) was omitted, doubtless because of the contemporary political situation, in this and the two subsequent reprints of the quarto (both in 1598). After the succession issue had been resolved, the episode was considered less contentious, and it appeared in the fourth quarto, of 1608, advertised as having 'new additions of the Parliament scene, and the deposing of King Richard; as it hath been lately acted by the King's Majesty's servants, at the Globe.' The First *Folio text (1623) includes a better version of the deposition scene based probably on a prompt-book.
The date of the play is uncertain, but is unlikely to be later than 1595. It is based mainly on *Holinshed, and possibly also on Samuel *Daniel's First Four Books of the Civil Wars (1595). It is the first play in Shakespeare's second tetralogy based on English history. Written entirely in verse, it is stylistically very different from the other three. The first recorded performance is one specially commissioned by the Earl of *Essex's supporters on 7 February 1601 as a gesture of support for his rebellion the following day. The players argued that it was 'so old and so long out of use' that they would have 'small or no company at it'. but performed it nevertheless. A court case ensued but the company was exonerated. An improbable performance on a ship captained by William *Keeling is recorded in 1607. It was also given at the *Globe on 12 June 1631.
Nahum *Tate's adaptation, as The Sicilian Usurper, appears to have been played twice only, in 1681. Lewis *Theobald's adaptation appeared at *Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1719, with some success. Shakespeare's play was given at *Covent Garden in 1738, with revivals in the two following seasons. It was neglected until Edmund *Kean played a version by Richard Wroughton at *Drury Lane in 1815, revived from time to time till 1828. W. C. *Macready came closer to Shakespeare in his performances. The most successful nineteenth-century production was Charles *Kean's at the Princess's in 1857, which had eighty-five performances. It was scenically spectacular, archaeologically respectable, and textually short. F. R. *Benson was a distinguished Richard at Stratford-upon-Avon and elsewhere at the turn of the century; C. E. Montague's review of his performance in the Manchester Guardian has become a classic of theatre criticism, often anthologized. Beerbohm *Tree's spectacular version at His Majesty's in 1903 included a new version of the pageant of Bolingbroke's entry into London which Charles Kean had introduced, and also a coronation for Henry IV. *Granville-Barker had played Richard in 1899 in a performance in Elizabethan style directed by William *Poel. *Gielgud, perhaps the greatest exponent of the role in the twentieth century, played it first at the *Old Vic (1954, etc.), and the *Royal Shakespeare Company production by John *Barton (1973-4) in which Richard *Pasco and Ian *Richardson alternated as Richard and Bolingbroke. Jeremy Irons played a Christ-like Richard in 1986 (Stratford-upon-Avon) and Fiona Shaw played Richard in Deborah *Warner's *Royal National Theatre production (1995, televised 1997).
Richard II is an uneven play, and the scenes of Aumerle's rebellion against Bolingbroke have frequently embarrassed actors and directors, but the role of Richard himself offers unequalled opportunities to actors who can command pathos and speak verse.
Hard Times. (WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)Adapt. and dir. Peter Barnes. Based on Charles Dickens's novel. Cast: Alan Bates, Bob Peck, Diana Fairfax, Peter Bayliss, Timothy Bateson, Bill Paterson, Richard E. Grant, Harriet Walter, Beatie Edney, Alex Jennings, Dilys Laye, Christien Anholt, Emma Lewis, Jonathan Butterell. Photog. Rex Maidment. Prod. des. Bruce Macadie. Ed. Robin Graham Scott. Music by Stephen Deutsch. Prod. Richard Langridge. YouTube (WeezyMovieVEVO) 4 Feb. 2013.* http://youtu.be/HrO3GC_Rkb4
Que curiosa casualidad. Estaba yo viendo esta película sobre Hard Times, cuando llaman al teléfono y me pregunta un señor, un lector muy aficionado a Dickens, por mi tesina sobre esta novela—tesina que escribí hace casi treinta años, sin que nadie se haya interesado por ella entretanto.
Cuando le he comentado la casualidad, se ha debido pensar o bien que le tomaba el pelo, o que llevo treinta años a ritmo continuo dedicado en cuerpo y alma a Hard Times. Tanto no, es cierto, aunque algo sí me la trabajé en su momento. La casualidad aquí queda, y la tesina aquí:
También en Convdocs aparece, en la misma fecha, otra lista parecida: el listado bibliográfico sobre esa tercera persona, "José Angel García Landa" procedente de mi Bibliography of Literary Theory, Criticism and Philology. Con mi Opera Inconclusa en 56 páginas web. Para Vds., con un clic a su alcance, todo este exceso de tecleo... —y esto precisamente ahora que Daniel Innerarity nos cuenta lo siguiente sobre la sobreinformación y también sobre el lado menos amable de la Web.
Más información sale hoy sobre la reciente cátedra de nuestro departamento de Filología Inglesa, a la que se presentaron dos de las personas Acreditadas para ello— Chantal Cornut-Gentille y Marita Nadal. Pues bien, los Hados o los Resultados favorecieron a Marita Nadal, y según se echa de ver por esta noticia que sale hoy no todo el mundo está de acuerdo.
Qué quieren que les diga, que yo también tengo práctica en estas reclamaciones, y puedo asegurar poniendo la mano en el fuego, que la cosa terminará en nada. Ahora, que sea indicativa de un mal hacer del tribunal, eso lo considerará indicativo cada cual según sus simpatías y afiliaciones, osegún la información que tenga, que yo no tengo ni mucha ni poca, estando bastante aislado de los pasillos y otras fuentes de cotilleo de mi departamento. Sí observé que en esta ocasión el tribunal se cortó de otorgar los cien puntos que se daban alegremente en otros casos al currículum ganador—así a ojímetro, igual que se han dado también a ojímetro veinte puntos, o cero, cuando ha soplado el viento por allí, y todos contentos, el Rector el primero. No digo que sea una decisión injusta, porque no me se el currículum de mis colegas (aunque sí figuran ambas en mi bibliografía con algunas publicaciones). Lo que sí será, si ha sido como las anteriores cátedras en conflicto, es totalmente arbitraria, que no crean que hacen injusticias por sistema, no, la cosa sigue otras leyes más indiscernibles.
Si me preguntan por lo que tengo observado, el recurso no llegará a contencioso. Y en el ambiente local, la gente le suele dar la razón a quien gana la plaza, y al tribunal—por más argumentos que les eches, si haberlos haylos. Vae victis es la norma. Y más en un sitio con tanta práctica cogida como mi departamento, que se deshace en risitas simpáticas y buen rollito cuando abren la boca los catedráticos.
Mi artículo sobre narratología evolucionista "Consilience and Retrospection" (aquí su historia y sustancia) ha sido retomado en varias revistas de la Social Science Research Network, SSRN, y aquí se echa de ver su enfoque interdisciplinar, pues está en redes de antropología, filosofía, literatura, y retórica. Me hace especial ilusión que aparezca en esta revista o revistilla de filosofía de la ciencia:
—está en este sitio ruso, Convdocs, que me lo imagino gestionado íntegramente por robots, con alguna rusa quizá perdida entre ellos para echarles el aceite. También ésta procede de mi Bibliografía de Teoría Literaria, Crítica y Filología; entiéndase en sentido amplio, que luego incluyo bibliografías sobre la profecía, la prostitución, la protesta, el psicoanálisis....
A Freud sí que lo leí bastante por cuestiones literarias, ya desde 1980 más o menos, empezando por La interpretación de los sueños. Recomiendo especialmente El malestar en la cultura.
En la bibliografía también hay otros listados sobre psicoanálisis, psicoterapia, crítica psicoanalítica, Lacan et al., etc.
Más de 300 conferencias sobre filosofía (en francés mayormente) en el sitio web de la École Normale Supérieure Savoirs en Multimédia. Digo filosofía, pero hay otras tantas más de humanidades diversas, letras, economía, ciencias sociales y naturales, etc. Vamos, que quien no oye a Badiou o a Bourdieu, o a lo que se lleve en la intelectualidad parisina actual, será porque no quiere.
From the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.
I. DEFINITION II. ANCIENT III. RENAISSANCE AND MODERN EUROPEAN IV. RELATION TO TRAGEDY
I. DEFINITION. Like tragedy (q.v.), the Western tradition of comic theater is considered to have begun with the ancient Greeks. Such a claim is however less clear than that made on behalf of tragedy, if only because no known culture appears to lack some form of comic performance. This fact has inspired various speculative theses concerning laughter—like reason and speech—as one of the defining characteristics of humanity. As in the case of tragedy, therefore, we need to distinguish with some care between speculative generalizations about the "comic spirit," and that more precious historical description needed to annlyze the function of comedy in society. We must also discriminate between such description and attempts to analyze the "psychology" of laughter, because the event of comedy and the eruption of mirth are by no means the same. (I should add that althought the term "comedy" has been applied to any literary genre that is humorous, joyful, or expresses good fortune, what follwos will concern above all the theater, even if some observations have a broader application.)
The name "comedy" comes from Comus, a Greek fertility god. In ancient Greece "comedy" also named a ritual springtime procession presumed to celebrate cyclical rebirth, resurrection, and perpetual rejuvenation. Modern scholars and critics have thus taken comedy to be a universal celebration of life, a joyous outburst of laughter in the face of either an incomprehensible world or a repressive socio-political order. Carnival, festival, folly, and a general freedom of action then indicate either an indifference to and acceptance of the first, or a resistance to the second. But scholars have taken such notions yet further: if tragedy represents the fall from some kind of "sacred irrationality," comedy on the contrary becomes the triumphant affirmation of that riotous unreason, marking some ready acceptance of human participation in the chaotic forces needed to produce Life. The comic protagonist's defeat is then the counterpart to the tragic protagonist's failure, both versions of some ritual cleansing by means of a scapegoat—in this case one representing life-threatening forces. Such speculations have been advanced in one form or another by classicists (F. M. Cornford, Jane Harrison, Gilbert Murray), philosophers (Mikhail Bakhtin, Susanne Langer), and literary critics (C. L. Barber, Northrop Frye), not to mention anthropologists and even sociologists.
How much these theories help us understand what comedies are is another, and perhaps a different, question. For in the last resort such arguments depend on the assumption that beneath all and any particular comedy is some kinde of profound universal "carnival", a common denominator of the human in all times and places. Recalling Nietzsche's Gay Science, Jean Duvignaud has thus spoken of 'laughter that for a fleeting moment pitches humans before an infinite freedom, eluding constraints and rules, drawing them away from the irremediable nature of their condition to discover unforeseeable connections, and suggesting a common existence where the imaginary and real life will be reconciled" (229-30). But theories of this sort depend upon the idea that one can obtain the deepest comprehension of comedies by removing them from their distinct historical moment and social environment. They forget that such carnival and such laughter aree themselves the creations of a particular rationality, just as Dante's Divine Comedy universalized a particular theology. Even so seemingly fantastic a theater as that of Aristophanes (ca. 485-385 B.C.) is misconstrued by a theory that neglects comedy's essential embedding in the social and political intricacies of its age and place (Athens during the Peloponnesian Wars).
Setting aside these broad metaphysical speculations, then, we must look at accounts of laughter as a human reaction to certain kinds of errors. By and large, these may be divided into two theories. The one asserts that laughter is provoked by a sense of superiority (Hobbes' "sudden glory"), the other that it is produced by a sudden sense of the ludicrous, the incongrous, some abrupt dissociation of event and expectation. The theory of superiority is the more modern one, developed mainly by Hobbes, Bergson, and Meredith. It presumes our joy in seeing ourselves more fortunate than others, or in some way more free. Bergson's notion that one of the causes of laughter is the an abrupt perception of someone as a kind of automaton or puppet, as though some freedom of action had been lost, is one version of this.
The theory of comedy as the ludicrous or as the dissociation of expectation and event has a longer pedigree. It begins with Aristotle and has come down to us via Kant, Schopenhauer, and Freud. In the Poetics, Aristotle mentions another work on comedy, now lost; what remains are a few comments. In Poetics 5 Aristotle remarks that comedy imitates people "worse than average; worse, however, not as regards any and every sort of fault, but only as regards one particular kind, the Ridiculous, which is a species of the Ugly. The Ridiculous may be defined as a mistake or deformity not productive of pain or harm to others" (tr. Bywater). Similar remarks exist in his Rhetoric and in a medieval Greek manuscript known as the Tractatus Coislinianus, Aristotelian in argument and possibly even an actual epitome of Aristotle's lost writing on comedy (ed. Janko, 1984). Save for suggesting some detail of dissociative word and action, this text adds little to what may be gleaned from extant texts of Aristotl. It does make a parallel between comedy and tragedy, however, by saying that catharsis (q.v.) also occurs in comedy "through pleasure and laughter achieving the purgation of like emotions." The meaning of such a phrase is not at all clear, although it suggests comedy as an almost Stoic device to clean away extremes of hedonism and to root out any carnivalesque temptations.
Although both theories involve the psychology of laughter, the superiority theory seems less particularly applicable to comedy than that of incongruity, for the latter seeks both to indicate devices specifically provocative of laughter and to explain their effect on a spectator. The "Aristotelian" analyses suggest several matters. First, their kind of laughter requires oddness, distortion, folly, or some such "version of the ugly," but without pain. Such laughter thus depends on sympathy. Second, although this theory is kinder than that of superiority, it too has its part of cruelty, just because of the touch of ugliness. Third, theories of superiority and of incongruity both take laughter as means, as commentary upon or correction of what we may call the real or even "local" world_unlike metaphysical theories, which make mirth an end in itself and an escape into some "universality." Fourth, both these theories (which supplement rather than oppose one another) require the laughter to be aware of some disfiguring of an accepted norm. Comedy and laughter imply a habit of normality, a familiarity of custom, from which the comic is a deviation. It may indeed be the case that comedy, like tragedy, shows the construction of such order, but above all it demonstrates why such order must be conserved.
II. ANCIENT. The fourth theory would at least partly explain why comic competition was instituted at the Athenian Dionysia some 50 years after that for tragedy (in 486 B.C.). Aristtle has told us the first competition was won by Chionides, who with Magnes represented the first generation of writers of comedy. Around 455 a comic victory was won by Cratinus, who with Crates formed a second generation. Many titles have survived and some fragments, but these constitute near the sum total of extant facts about Athenian comedy until Aristophanes' victory with Acharnians in 425. We know that in this competition Cratinus was second with Kheimazomenoi, and Eupolis third with Noumeniai. These names tell us little, but we may perhaps assume that Aristophanic comedy was fairly typical of this so-called Greek "Old Comedy": a mixture of dance, poetry, song, and drama, combining fantastic plots with mockery and sharp satire of contemporary people, events, and customs. Most of his plays are only partly comprehensible if we know nothing of current social, political, and literary conditions.
Aristophanes did not hesitate to attack education, the law, tragedians, the situation of women (though it is clearly an error to take him for a "feminist" of any kind), and the very nature of Athenian "democracy." Above all he attacked the demagogue Cleon, the war party he led, and the war itself. This says much about the nature of Athenian freedoms, for Aristophanes wrote during the struggle with Sparta, when no one doubted at all that the very future of Athens was in question. Aristophanes' last surviving play (of 11, 44 being attributed to him) is Plutus (388), a play criticizing myth, but whose actual themes are avarice and ambition. Quite different in tone and intent from the preceding openly political plays, Plutus is considered the earliest (and only extant) example of Greek "Middle Comedy."
The situation of comedy was, however, quite different from that of tragedy, for anothe powerful tradition existed. This was centered in Sicilian Syracuse, a Corinthian colony, and claimed the earliest comic writer, Epicharmus, one of the authors at the court of Hieron I in the 470s. We know the titles of some 40 of his plays. Othe comic poets writing in this Doric tradition were Phormis and the slightly younger Deinolochus, but the Dorians were supplanted by the Attic writers in the 5th c. and survive only in fragments. The best known composer of literary versions of the otherwise "para-" or "ub-" literary genre of comic mime was another Sicilian, Sophron, who lived during the late 5th c. From the 4th c. we have a series of vase paintings from Sicily and Southern Italy which suggest that comedy still throve there. The initiative had largely passed, however, to the Greek mainland. Plutus is an example of that Middle Comedy whose volume we know to have been huge. Plautus'Latin Amphitruo (ca. 230 B.C.) seems to be a version of another one, and, if so, one characteristic was the attack on myth. (Aristophanes' earlier Frogs , attacking Euripides and Aeschylus, tried in the underworld, may well be thought a forerunner.)
By the mid 4th c., so-called "New Comedy" held the stage. Among its poets the most celebrated and influential was unquestionably Menander (c. 342-290 B.C.). His "teacher" was a certain Alexis of Thurii in southern Italy, so we can readily see how the "colonial" influence continued, even though Alexis was based in Athens. He is supposed to have written 245 plays and to have outlived his pupil. We know of Philemon from either Cilicia or Syracuse, of Diphilos from Sinope on the Black Sea, and of Apollodorus from Carystos in Euboea—worth mentioning as illustrating the great spread of comedy. Until the 1930s, however, only fragments seemed to have survived. Then what can only be considered one of the great literary discoveries turned up a papyrus containing a number of Menander's comedies, complete or almost so. These plays deal not with political matters or criticism of myth, but with broadly social matters (sometimes using mythical themes). The situations are domestic, the comedy is of manners, the characters are stock.
The widespread familiarity of comic forms helps explain why comedy was soon diffused once again over the Greek and roman world. By the mid 3rd c., not only had itinerant troupes spread from Greece throughout the Hellenistic world, but already by 240, Livius Andronicus, from Tarentum in southern Italy, had adapted Greek plays into Latin for public performance. Like Gnaeus Naevius and later Quintus Ennius, this poet composed both tragedy and comedy. From the 3rd c. as well dates Atellan farce (named from Atella in Campania), using stock characters and a small number of set scenes, and featuring clowns (called Bucco or Maccus), foolish old men, and greedy buffoons. These farces were partly improvised, on the basis of skeletal scripts, much like the commedia dell'arte of almost two millennia later. The influence of Etrurian musical performance, southern Italian drama, Greek mime, New Comedy and Atellan farce came together in the comedies of Titus Maccius Plautus, who wrote in the late 3rd c. (he is said by Cicero to have died in 184). By him 21 complete or almost complete comedies have survived. A little later Rome was entertained by the much more highbrow Publius Terentius Afer (Terence), by whom six plays remain extant. These two authors provided themes, characters, and style for comedy as it was to develop in Europe after the Renaissance (though farces, sotties, and comic interludes [q.v.] were widely performed in the Middle Ages).
III. RENAISSANCE AND MODERN EUROPEAN. As in the case of tragedy comedy was rediscovered first in Italy. While humanist scholars published and then imitated both Plautus and Terence (see IMITATION), vernacular art developed alongside wuch efforts. The early 16th c. saw the publication of much school drama in both Latin and Italian, while just a little later there developed the commedia dell'arte, wholse influence was to be enormous.This was a comedy of improvisation, using sketchy scripts and a small number of stock characters—Harlequin, Columbine, Pantaloon, the Doctor and others—placing these last in various situations. These plots were as frequently derived from antiquity as they were from folk art. Later on, these two forms of comedy tented to feed one another; the popular Comédie italienne of the late 17th-c. France was one outcome. The Commedia's influence was equally visible in Marivaux (1688-1763) and Goldoni (1707-93), though in the case of the first, the Italienne was just as important. The Commedia survives vividly in our own time in the theater of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, which has put the old characters to work in the service of powerful political satire.
Apain vied with Italy on its development of comedy, starting with the late 15th-c. Celestina of Fernando de Rojas, written in Acts and in dialogue but never really intended for performance. By the late 16th c., Spain's theater was second to none in Europe. Lope de Vega (1562-1635), Calderón (1600-81) and a host of others produced a multitude of romantic and realistic comedy, dealing mainly with love and honor. They provided innumerable plots, themes, and characters for comic writers of France and England. These two countries started rather later than the South, but, like them, benefited from both an indigenous folk tradition and the publication of Latin comedy. The influence of Italian humanist comedy was significant in both nations during the 16th c., and that of Spain particularly in France in the early 17th c.
In France, humanist comedy gave way in the late 1620s to a romantic form of comedy whose threefold source was the prose romance and novella of Spain, Italy, and France, Spanish comedy (especially that of Lope and Cervantes), and Italian dramatic pastoral. The first influential authors in this style were Pierre Corneille (1606-84) and Jean de Rotrou (1609-50). Thew were followed by many, including Cyrano de Bergerac, Thomas Corneille , and the poet whom many consider the greatest writer of comedy of all times, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Molière (1622-73). He wrote an enormous variety, in verse and prose, rangin from slapstick farce to something approaching bourgeois tragic drama. Comédie ballet, comedy of situation, of manners, of intrigue, and of character all flowed from his pern. He did not hesitate to write on matters that provoked the ire of religious dévots or of professional bigots, nor did he shirk the criticism of patriarchy, and many of his plays have political overtones. Having begun his theatrical career as leader of a traveling troupe, Molière made full use of folk tradition, of provincial dialect, of Commedia and of farce, as well as of Classical example. Many of his characters have become familiar types in French tradition (e.g. the "misanthrope," "tartuffe," "don juan"); many of his lines have become proverbial. While his plays do contain the now familiar young lovers, old men both helpful and obstructive, wily servants both female and male, sensible wives and mothers (whereas husbands and fathers are almost always foolish, headstrong, cuclolded, or downright obstructive); they bear chiefly upon such matters as avarice, ambition, pride, hypocrisy, misanthropy, and other such extreme traits. What interests Molière is how such excess conflicts directly with the well-regulated and customary process of ordered society.
Having followed a similar trajectory to that of its southern neigbours in the first half of the 16th c., England created a comic trad. unique in variety and longevity. The extraordinarily diverse comedies of Shakespeare (1564-1616) and the so-called comedy of humors (q.v.) favored by Jonson (1573-1637) seemed about to create two distinct comic traditions. Shakespeare wrote in almost every mode imaginable: aristocratic romance, bitter and problematic farce, comedy of character, slapstick farce, and the almost tragic Troilus and Cressida. If any comedy may be analyzed with some "metaphysical" theory it is no doubt Shakespeare's, with its concern for madness and wisdom, birth and death, the seasons' cycles, alove and animosity. Yet Shakespeare's comedies remained unique, and he had no successor in this style. Jonson's more urbane comedy of types and of character, satirizing manners and morals, social humbug and excess of all kinds, and falling more clearly into the forms already seen, was soon followed by the quite remarkable flowering of Restoration comedy, with a crowd of authors, including Dryden, Wycherley, Congreve, Behn, and Centlivre, among many others. They produced a brittle comedy of manners and cynical wit whose major impression is one of decayand an almost unbalanced self-interest. They were in turn suceeded by a widely varied 18th-c. comedy from the staunch complacency of Steele through the political satire of Gay to the joyous and mocking cynicism of Goldsmith, Inchbald, and Sheridan. This tradition was pursued thorugh the late 19th and early 20th centuries by a series of great Irish dramatists: Shaw, most notably, then Wilde, Yeats, Synge, and O'Casey.
During this period France was equally productive, but with few exceptions failed to attain the quality represented by the names just mentioned. At the turn of the 17th c., Regnard produced serious and significant social satire, as did Lesage (esp. in Turcaret, 1706). Marivaux dominated the first half of the 18th c., as Voltaire did the middle and Beaumarchais the end. If any new form appeared it was doubtless the comédie larmoyante, a sentimental drama whose main (and stated) purpose was to draw the heartstrings; in a way, it did for comedy what the later melodrama did for tragedy. In the 19th c. Musset produced his delicate comedy of manners, while Dumas fils and others strove to produce a comedy dealing with society's ills. This culminated on the one hand in Scribe's "well-made play," on the other in the "realist" drama of Zola and Antoine at the end of the century.
In other European lands, authors tended to be isolated: in late 19th-c. Norway, Ibsen, in early 20th-c. Russia, Chekhov; slightly later in Italy, Pirandello. To mention them so briefly is to be unjust, for they were all major creative figures. In many ways they foreshadowed that breakdown of traditional comedy that marks the mid to late 20th c. Laughter tends to become mingled problematically with that sense of discomfort in the world and uneas in the self which is perhaps a principal sign of our age. Among representative authors one might mention such as Witkiewicz, Mrozek, and Gombrowicz from Poland; Brecht, Dürrenmatt, and Handke from Germany; Switzerland, and Austria; Adamov, Ionesco, Arraabal, and Beckett in France; Capek, Fischerova, Havel, and Kohut in Czechoslovakia; Pinter, Arden, Bond, Stoppard, Benton, Hare, and Churchill in England; and Hellman, Albee, Baraka, and Simon in America. All have been writing plays that sport ironically with the political, social, and metaphysical dimensions of the human condition. Usually such issues are no longer held separate, and all are fair game for an ambiguous, perplexed, and uncertain derision. Such theater is now widely distributed, as strong in Latin America as in Czechoslovakia, in Italy or Spain as in Nigeria. It is almost as though comedy had lost a sense of that social norm to which we referrred at the outset, as if it were increasingly imbued with an inescapable sense of the tragic.
IV. RELATION TO TRAGEDY. Comedy had from the start a rather ambiguous relation to tragedy, and it was never difficult to see in Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusai an inversion of Euripides' Bacchae, for example. A celebrated passage at the end of Plato's Symposium has Socrates obliging Agathon and Aristophanes to agree that comedy and tragedy have the same source. Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard has been played as both comedy and tragedy; so has The Merchant of Venice. Even the elements compounding the confrontation may be identical, as in Macbeth, Jarry's Ubu Roi, or Ionesco's Macbett. When the comic protagonist acquires attributes of typicality or of some absolute, then comedy may take on overtones of tragedy. A critic of Molière's Tartuffe (1667) remarked that whaterver "lacks extremely in reason" is ridiculous: anything contrary to a predictable reaction or an expected and habitual situation is absurd. This is of course straight from the Aristotelian tradition, but the emphasis on excess is significant. It shows just how close comedy always was to tragedy, explaining such comedies as Dom Juan or Le Misanthrope. Both focus on an idealism either misplaced or preposterous. Don Juan's ideal self is misplaced because it serves a violent and injurious sexuality; Alceste's self-righteous scorn becomes comic when he refuses even the most innocent concession, and his responses become inappropriate to his urbane surroundings. Yet if he lowered his tone to suit his milieu he would fall short of his ideal: the dilemma is that of dissonance between the dieal and the situation where it is expressed—incongruity again. The excessive ideal in this case contradicts society's needs and fails its norm.
Tragedy appears to require a world view such that a recognized human quantity may be pitted against a known but inhuman one (variously called Fate, the gods, the idea of some Absolute, etc.), permitting the "limits" of human action and knowledge to be defined. Comedy seems rather to oppose humans to one another, within essentially social boundaries. And if, as both the superiority and the incongruity theories hold, comedy is essentially a social phenomenon, then wherever humans are will be somehow conducive to it; whereas tragedy seems to signify a moment of passage from one sociocultural environment to another. That social nature of comedy may be why its characters sem to us so down-to-earth, pragmatic, and familiar. Even where a theater's real (and external) social context is very different, we can still recognize creatures of a social order. That is also why comedies are in league with their audience, obtaining their spectators' sympathy for what are given as the dominant social interests. Volpone menaces that order, as do Shylock, Tartuffe, and Philokleon (Aristophanes, Wasps). Volpone and Shylock are defeated in the name of the Venetian Republic, as is Tartuffe in that of the King, and Philokleon in that of a city longing for peace. In Palutus' Epidicus, the eponymous slave—archetypal outsider for 3rd c. Rome—is absorbed into and becomes a part of the social system. In Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, the actors remain at loose ends because they are unable to situate either themselves or a social order. Similarly, Beckett's two tramps remain despairingly expectant at the end of Waiting for Godot. Comedy has always emphasized the conservation of an order it may well have helped construct. When we can no more grasp or even envisage that order, then derisive irony may make us laugh, but it also leaves us painfully disturbed. See also BURLESQUE; DRMATIC POETRY; FARCE; GENRE; GREEK POETRY, Classical; PARODY; TRAGICOMEDY.
G. Meredith, An Essay on Comedy (1877; ed. W. Sypher, 1980); F. Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882); H. L. Bergson, Laughter (1912; ed. W. Sypher, 1980); F. M. Cornford, The Origin of Attic Comedy (1914); S. Freud, Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious (1916); L. Cooper, An Aristotelian Theory of Comedy (1922); M. A. Grant, The Ancient Rhetorical Theories of the Laughable (1924); J. Harrison, Themis (1927); K. M. Lea, Italian Popular Comedy, 2 v. (1934); J. Feibleman, In Praise of Comedy (1939); M. T. Herrick, Comic Theory in the 16th C. (1950), Italian Comedy in the Renaissance (1960); G. E. Duckworth, The Nature of Roman Comedy (1952); W. Sypher, Comedy (1956); Frye; S. Langer, Philosophy in a New Key,3rd ed. (1957); A. Artaud, The Theatre and Its Double, tr. M. C. Richards (1958); C. L. Barber, Shakespeare's Festive C. (1959); E. Welsford, The Fool (1961); J. L. Styan, The Dark Comedy (1962); A., Nicoll, A History of English Drama, 1660-1900, 6 v. (1952-59), The World of Harlequin (1963); Theories of Comedy, ed. P. Lauter (1964); N. Frye, A Natural Perspective (1965); H. B. Charlton, Shakespearean Comedy (1966); W. Kerr, Tragedy and Comedy (1967); M. M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, tr. H. Iswolsky (1968); E. Olson, The Theory of Comedy (1968); E. Segal, Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus (1968); L. S. Champion, The Evolution of Shakespeare's Comedy (1970); G. M. Sifakis, Parabasis and Animal Choruses: A Contribution to the History of Attic Comedy (1971); W. M. Merchant, Comedy (1972); K. J. Dover, Aristophanic Comedy (1972); M. C. Bradbrook, The Growth and Structure of Elizabethan Comedy, 2nd ed. (1973); R. b. Martin, The Triumph of Wit: A Study of Victorian Comic Theory (1974); A. Rodway, English Comedy: Its Role and Nature from Chaucer to the Present Day (1975); M. Gurewitch, Comedy: The Irrational Vision (1975); F. H. Sandbach, The Comic Theatre of Greece and Rome (1977); A. Caputi, Buffo: The Genius of Vulgar Comedy (1978); E. Kern, The Absolute Comic (1980); R. Nevo, Comic Transformations in Shakespeare (1980); R. W. Corrigan, Comedy: Meaning and Form, 2nd ed. (1981); Trypanis; Fowler; K. H. Bareis, Comoedia (1982); D. Konstan, Roman Comedy (1983); E. L. Galligan, The Comic Vision in Literature (1984); R. Janko, Aristotle on Comedy (1984); J. Duvignaud, Le Propre de l'homme: histoire du comique et de la dérision (1985); K. Neuman, Shakespeare's Rhetoric of Comic Character (1985); E. W. Handley, "Comedy," CHCL, v. 1; R. L. Hunter, The New Comedy of Greece and rome (1985); W. E. Gruber, Comic Theaters (1986); T. Lang, Barbarians in Greek Comedy (1986); T. B. Leinward, The City Staged: Jacobean Comedy, 1603-1613 (1986); E. Burns, Restoration Comedy: Crises of Desire and Identity (1987); H. Levin, Playboys and Killjoys (1987); L. Siegel, Laughing Matters: Comic Traditions in India (1987).
Vuelve, digo, mi artículo sobre Oscar Wilde, Polibio, y la hermenéutica de la historia—esta vez reaparece en un par de revistas de estudios clásicos de la Social Science Research Network—ahora mismo está en portada en esta
Un congreso de cosmología matemática en Cambridge. Perspectivas matemáticas sobre los multiversos-burbuja y la cosmología más allá del Big Bang. Me temo que sus resultados dicen más en última instancia de los modelos matemáticos empleados que del objeto al que se aplican—el universo en que habitamos, que sigue siendo incognoscible cuanto más cerca estamos de sus límites, o cuando intentamos superarlos—y es modelable matermáticamente de muchas maneras. Aunque el que haya muchos modelos posibles no implica que haya muchos universos en el mismo sentido.
Aún no existe "sólidamente", la red de investigación histórica en el SSRN, es un "forthcoming network", pero ya tiene casi nueve mil artículos sobre historia.
Y uno de ellos es mío —hoy cerca del final de la primera página del HISTORY RESEARCH NETWORK. Si ya no está ahí, búsquenlo con fecha 11 de noviembre. Fecha que me hace pensar, por analogía, en el nueve de noviembre—y de ahí al siete de septiembre vamos, remontándonos por la historia que acarreamos a cuestas.
Aquí mis demás artículos, y posicionamiento actual, en el SSRN:
_____. "Tematización retroactiva, interacción e interpretación: La espiral hermenéutica de Schleiermacher a Goffman" Paper presented at the XXVI Congreso AEDEAN (Santiago de Compostela, Dec. 2002).
_____. "Tematización retroactiva, interacción e interpretación: La espiral hermenéutica de Schleiermacher a Goffman." In Hans-Georg Gadamer: Ontología estética y hermenéutica. Ed. Teresa Oñate y Zubía, Cristina García Santos and Miguel Ángel Quintana Paz. Madrid: Dykinson, 2005. 679-88.*
_____. "Retroactive Thematization, Interaction, and Interpretation: The Hermeneutic Spiral from Schleiermacher to Goffman / Tematización Retroactiva, Interacción e Interpretación: La espiral hermenéutica de Schleiermacher a Goffman (Spanish)." Online PDF at Social Science Research Network 17 June 2011.*
Según la perspectiva interaccionista simbólica de Tamotsu Shubatani, las perspectivas (perspectivas cognitivas podríamos llamarlas, para distinguirlas de las ópticas o pictóricas) son diversos y variables puntos de vista que puede adoptar un sujeto-actor para interpretar el mundo y orientar su acción en él.
"A perspective is an ordered view of one's world—what is taken for granted about the attributes of various objects, events, and human nature. It is an order of things remembered and expected as well as things actually perceived, an organized conception of what is plausible and what is possible: it constitutes the matrix through which one perceives his environment" (1955: 564).
Una matriz o estructura esquemática, pero también una Matrix—una realidad virtual que da forma a la realidad en la que habitamos. A relacionar con conceptos parecidos como los marcos de Bateson o de Goffman. Para Shibatani, las perspectivas van unidas a los grupos de referencia: el sujeto se concibe a sí mismo como miembro de un grupo que le sirve para pertenecer imaginativamente a él, y como instrumento cognitivo para ordenar la realidad desde el punto de vista de ese grupo.
"A reference group is the society whose perspective the individual uses. It is the group within which the individual communicates and whose perspective is applied to situations. Shibutani defines reference groups as simply those groups whose perspectives the individual borrows to see reality." (Charon 2001: 35).
Los grupos de referencia pueden definirse de modo diverso, y cada individuo pertenece a varios a diversos niveles de especificidad—como miembro de carnet, pongamos, como "tipo social", o como alguien que se identifica con unos determinados roles o modelos sociales. La realidad, definida desde esta perspectiva, "es resultado de las perspectivas que adoptamos mediante la interacción social, y los grupos cuyas perspectivas usamos se llaman nuestros grupos de referencia" (Charon 36). Son grupos sociales o sociedades a las que pertenecemos o que "activamos" en diversos contextos interaccionales, a la hora de definir una situación, una actitud, o una respuesta. También los llama Shubatani "mundos sociales" en sentido amplio, y es interesante cómo espeifica el papel de las comunicaciones a la hora de formar y manterner estos grupos. De ahí se puede pasar fácilmente a una teoría sociológica e identitaria sobre el papel de los medios de comunicación, y su papel en la gestión de identidades y grupos complejos en el desarrollo de las sociedades modernas:
"One of the characteristics of life in modern mass societies is simultaneous participation in a variety of social worlds. Because of the ease with which the individual may expose himself to a number of communication channels, he may lead a segmentalized life, participating successively in a number of unrelated activities. Furhtermore, the particular combination of social worlds differs from person to person" (1955: 567).
La disponibilidad de estas perspectivas y la capacidad de gestionarlas es enfatizada por la perspectiva propia del interaccionismo simbólico, que enfatiza una visión de los seres humanos como implicados en la construcción y definición activa, y negociada, de la realidad en que habitan. Los medios de comunicación son así herramientas para gestionar estas perspectivas, que a su vez son herramientas de gestión de la realidad.
Notas tomadas leyendo a Joel M. Charon, Symbolic Interactionism An Introduction, an Interpretation, an Integration. Upper Saddle River (NJ): Prentice-Hall, 1979. 2nd ed. 1985. 3rd ed. 1989. 4th ed. 1992. 5th ed. 1995. 6th ed. 1998. 7th ed. 2001. (With a chapter on Erving Goffman by Spencer Cahill). Shibutani, Tamotsu. "Reference Groups as Perspectives." American Journal of Sociology 60 (1955): 562-69.
Mi sueño de esta noche: —estaba yo en la Facultad, quizá más bien en la facultad de Ciencias, o en un congreso de AEDEAN en otra universidad, y al parecer me tocaba presentar un panel de comunicaciones, o una mesa redonda, pero ya había algún maestro de ceremonias en la mesa, que a su vez me presentaba a mí como presentador (y eso que no era una gran ocasión, de esas en las que se duplican las presentaciones al conferenciante, lejos de eso—quizá sólo había estado este personaje, un severo controlador, sustituyéndome o improvisando mientras yo no aparecía, porque me había costado encontrar el aula. Y me daba cuenta yo de que también llegaba con retraso la Dra. Penas, a quien tenía que presentar yo, pero no estaba, con lo cual mejor me parecía sacar unos anuncios de nuestros patrocinadores y leer un poco de publicidad mientras llegaba la gente—o mejor dicho los ponentes, porque el aula estaba llena de un público un tanto beatnik e informal. Desplegaba yo un gran tarjetón articulado de anuncios publicitarios, con la vaga consciencia de que no debería realmente leer publicidad en un acto académico, mientras me susurraba el maestro de ceremonias que mejor presentase al otro conferenciante, Tom Scott al parecer, me decía. Pero yo no conocía a Tom Scott, ni lo veía (claro). Entonces me lo señalaba el maestro de ceremonias allí, en una fila de sillas de éstas con reposabrazos plegables verdes, al lado de la pared, un tipo bajito, pequeño y cabezón, con gafas de pasta negra y perilla de diablo/tío culto interesante, gorra a cuadros blancos y negros, mucha bufanda y foulard y chaleco, y melenas rizadas—Tom Scott, en efecto— que venía ahora a la mesa con su ponencia, y se disponía a ser presentado. Pero yo seguía sin saber qué presentar, perdido como un pato en un garaje. Y me señalaba mi severo ayudante el programa que lo tenía delante, con el título de la ponencia de Tom Scott.... lo malo es que después del título, que me olvido cual era, el subtítulo estaba en ruso, en un ruso que parecía de broma, además, como para hacerme quedar mal. Así que digo yo, "No sé qué dice, no entiendo ruso— si les parece mejor les leo esta publicidad"—y sacaba de nuevo el tarjetón. Pero allí me interrumpía seriamente el maestro de ceremonias otra vez, con un gesto de hacer las tijeras con los dedos: "Corta ya—."
Espero que encontrasen interesante la ponencia de Tom Scott, quienes quiera que sea que la hayan oído, en algún mundo imaginario o en otro todavía más inexistente.
From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature, by Richard Ruland and Malcolm Bradbury (1991)
The quest for a native American novel progressed slowly. It moved from Philadelphia to other Eastern seaboard cities as Boston, Charleston and New York developed mercantile classes with intellectual asd artistic as well as economic and political aspirations. The Knickerbocker scene which had nourished the essay and poetry turned as well to the fictional forms, and found its voice in Washington Irving. The Golsmithian essays Irving wrote with Paulding as the Salmagundi papers established him as a New York wit, but his reputation was made with his "comic history of the city," A History of New York . . . by Diedrich Knickerbocker (1809), a work of mock-learning and literary parody much admired for its technical skill and wit by Scott, Byron and Coleridge. Irving's prose was neoclassical, but his sensibility half-Romantic. He was drawn by Scott and Campbell, excelled in inventing comic personae and yet had an appreciative sense of the melancholic and picturesque. His style was a search for a balanced voice that would let him be both American and European, let him comically report his own age yet reach for the "legends" of the past. A youthful Grand Tour through Europe educated him in Romantic sensations; and it was to Europe he returned, after the War of 1812, in an attempt to heal the widening political and literary breach, establish himself in the literary profession and resolve the manifest problems of the American writer.
In 1815 he sailed for Liverpool, settling in Britain first in an attempt to rescue the family business, then to try to live by writing in the world of the English Romantics. Scott received him generously, and at Abbotsford he read the German Romantic folktale writers. The British too were looking back to the Romantic past, as industrialism thrived during the peace that followed Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. As the Battle of the Quarterlies raged, British magazines mocked American aspirations for an independent literature: "in the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book?" demanded Sydney Smith. But almost single-handedly, Irving seized the moment and reversed the condescension with the essays, sketches and stories of The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-1820), Bracebridge Hall (1822) and Tales of a Traveller (1824), which appealed enormously to British and American audiences alike. Irving cast himself as a romantic traveler who makes his sketches, essays and vignettes, or collects his fables, as he passes from place to place, observing the picturesque and the historical, the ivy-covered ruin, the falling tower, the "mouldering pile." In Romantic fashion, he polarized the activities of the imagination, dividing them between Europe and America. Europe was the past, the poetic, the timeless, the mythical; indeed in a sense it was living Romanticism, a depository of the antique, the exotic, the traditional, "storied association." America was the present, rushing, potential, time-bound, political, it was in a state of literary promise, with its prodigious but still unwritten and unfelt grandeur of prairie, river, mountain and forest. In the center is Geoffrey Crayon, the traveler-painter hunting each nook and cranny that calls forth a sensation and a sketch, turning Europe's romanticism back on itself by giving European and American readers alike the history they were beginning to crave in an age of rising industrialism and entrepreneurship.
Irving was the American writer as ambassadorial expatriate. In May 1815, he began a seventeen-year Europan residence that would take him over the landscape of the new Romanticism in Britain, France, Germany and Spain and establish fresh links between American writing and European tradition. His response to this romanticism was half accepting, half ironic, but it led him toward a historical mythology of American life. In Volney's Ruins, translated by Thomas Jefferson and Joel Barlow in 1802 as a radical text, the French writer had associated moldering civilization with political decline. Irving associated it with art itself; the Europe he pains is a timeless human past, stable and engaging, a picturesque paradise rooted in custom and peasant ways and scarcely tourched by modern industrialism or expansion. His essays recognize political antagonism and social change but emphasize the need for the imagination as an aid to reconciliation, "looking at things poetically rather than politically." We can sense an element of evasion in this, and he himself admitted this was a "light" Romanticism, not much more than "magic moonshine." But America needed a legendary past, and he went on to collect it from many European sources, working deliberately to construct a new sense of world landscape for the American imagination. He gathered folktales from the Germany of Tieck and Jean Paul (J. P. F. Richter); in Spain, in addition to writing Legends of the Alhambra (1832), he rewrote the Columbus legend, thereby providing another triangulation for American experience. The influential American historians of the time—Prescott, Ticknor, Everett—were cosmopolitanizing themselves in the same way, turning to Europe to give the United States a significant history. Irving likewise defined a set of references that would relate the European Romantic past to a fresh American present, providing an imaginative geography that would shape much later American writing, as well as much American tourism.
Most of Irving's writing was about Europe—as if this had become the required material for the American artist seeking to recover the Romantic past from whence art sprang—but he did set a few tales, now his most famous, in the United States. "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," both in the Sketch-Book, have become classics of American folklore. They were in fact conscious endeavors to transport elements of the European folk tradition to American soil and are adaptations of German folktales, transposed to a "timeless" European part of America, the Dutch-American villages of the Hudson River Valley, the heart of the American picturesque. He sets them there, as he says in his own voice in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," because
population, manners and customs remain fixed; while the great torrent of migration and improvement, which is making such incessant changes in other parts of this restless country, sweeps by them unobserved. They are like those little nooks of still water which border a rapid stream, where we may see the straw and bubble riding quietly at anchor, or slowly revolving in their mimic harbor, undisturbed by the rush of the passing current.
It is this ahistorical and apolitical sleepiness that, to Irving, offers the possibility of legend, a view he shared with the German Romantics he imitated. Even so, the "passing current" does enter the stories. Rip Van Winkle steps out of society into twenty years of timelessness when, in the Catskill Mountains, he meets the ghostly drunken revelers from Henry Hudson's crew who lull him into a long slumber with a flagon of magic wine. His sleep takes him through the greatest American change of all, the Revolution; and when he returns to his village its old sleepiness has gone, replaced by disputation, politics and historical motion. But Irving's theme is not political; what the Revolution frees Rip from is "petticoat government," for his shrewish wife has died. Like Irving himself, Rip can now become a legend-maker, telling tales of the world before the war, transmuting history into myth. Rip makes legends; Ichabod Crane, in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," becomes their victim. This classic Yankee entrepreneur chases a rich heiress and her prosperous farm but is, ironically, cheated into seeing a ghost and losing his fortune through the belief in magic he has drawn from "Cotton Mather's history of New England witchcraft."
For an America without a written folk tradition, Irving provided essential material, the stuff of much future tall tale; here were stout Dutch burghers, backwoodsmen, Yankee peddlers, henpecked males and their garrulous wives, male dreams of freedom and space. His tales—he planned one novel but never wrote it—were his main contribution, a durable invigoration of the Romantic and the popular tradition of American fictional writing. But it was European distance that had added glow to his materials, as he found when, in 1832, he came back to America, a fêted author with a great European reputation, to face contemporary American history in the changed world of Jacksonian, westward expansion and commercial specualtion. In this world the eastward Grand Tour was being replaced by a Western one which led not to civilized but to natural wonders, an American scene being written in many literary languages. William Bartram's influential Travels (1791) had explored American landscape as romantic grandeur. Timothy Dwight's Travels in New England and New York, 1769-1815 (1821-22) had seen nature as the field of improvement and subjected the regrettable prevalence of forest to the standards of clearing and cultivation. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had, in their record of an adventurous continental exploration, Journals (1814), added new language of description and scientific report. John James Audubon was giving an extraordinary narrative and visual record of the birds and animals of the continent. And so this America was now available to Irving's touring, his sentimental associationism, his sense of the sublime.
This native landscape became the theme of his later books, his "Westerns": A Tour of the Prairies (1835), Astoria (1836) and The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A. (1837). The first is his Geoffrey Crayon tour to the "untrodden" frontier where the Indians were being driven from their homelands, but the book simply reveals how hard it was to render the West and the prairies—"For shich the speech of England has no name," Bryant had written—in the language of the European Grand Tour. Indians romantically became Arabs and gypsies, the unwritten mountains European Gothic cathedrals, and though the North American Review parised Irving for "turning these poor barbarous steppes into classical land," they remain, for Irving, in a state of curious vacancy. Something of the reason for this is apparent in the other two books, which were commissioned works. This nature is not innocent, but space for entrepreneurship, and Irving was never interested in the paradoxes and contradictions, the present troubles of history. Astoria really celebrates New York commercial intervention and the development of the West in its account of John Jacob Astor's monopolizing of the fur trade in the Pacific Northwest, and Captain Bonneville is the similar story of the famous soldier-explorer staking claims to American lands. These are minor works, and Irving seemed to know it, returning to Europe again as minister and ambassador in high government posts and doubting the durability of his talent. What these late works show is the difficulty faced by those seeking the tone and shape of American narrative in the opening world of American nature, exploration and mercantilism. They reveal the West not only as a social and political but as a linguistic and literary frontier.
It was a quite different writer who was to take on those social and narrative implications most directly and thereby point the direction of American fictional maturity. (...)
—según la Historia Universal de la Literatura de Léon Thoorens (1977):
Un eterno comenzar de nuevo
Los norteamericanos exterminaron a los pueblos pieles rojas, compraron un proletariado negro y después de alcanzar prosperidad y poder, intentaron restañar las heridas que sangraban. En realidad, los Estados Unidos han actuado como todas las demás potencias mundiales, pero más tarde. Los demás pueblos, en un pasado que se aleja también, han conquistado, exterminado y esclavizado, y lo consiguieron hasta que elaboraron una moral y un humanismo de alcance universal. América era moral antes de ser poderosa e incluso antes de existir, y en ello acaso radica el fundamento secreto de su orgullo agresivo, de su informe xenofobia, de su generosidad y de su grandeza. Todos los pueblos comentan y juzgan más o menos su destino, pero la autocrítica americana es más violenta, más absoluta y más sincera. Permanece encrespada, desde hace dos siglos, sobre la misma tensión, el mismo diálogo contradictorio, idéntica desilusión y la misma negación al fracaso.
La historia de la literatura norteamericana acaso sea la de esta autocrítica; podría titularse "Avatares de un mesianismo", y como epígrafe: "Matar al profeta es una manera de reducirlo a silencio, pero no sirve para nada si el silencio es peor." De Thoreau a Miller, los profetas lapidados, maldecidos, expulsados y renegados se suceden sin interrupción, pero sus voces resuenan y retumban y Almérica, cansada de seguir tapándose los oídos, acabna por escucharles y quererles.
Los padres peregrinos, huyendo de una Europa anquilosada por el odio, se proponen salvar lo mejor de ella, es decir, los valores humanos y nobles procedentes de Palestina, de Grecia, de Roma, de Irlanda, de Londres y de París —en diversas épocas— y desarrollarlos en una tierra virgen en torno a una Nueva Jerusalén: acabaron construyendo Nueva York. Reconociendo en ella a Babel y a Sodoma, algunos puritanos supervivientes se refugian en los bosques como en el caso de Thoreau, cazan leones en África si se llaman Hemingway o se dedican al erotismo con tentaciones esotéricas como en el caso de Miller. El antiguo narrador Fenimore Cooper llora ante el último mohicano, cantando al último representante de una libertad destruida en nombre de otra libertad. Escritores blancos se tuestan la piel para vivir como los negros, y luego denuncian el escándalo. Saul Bellow se pregunta por qué un país erigido en su mayor parte sobre la base sólida de la ciencia, de la técnica, del arte y de la fe de los judíos, continúa considerando al judío como un extranjero. Otros preguntan dónde está el Arca de la Alianza y la antigua energía. "Nos hemos dormido —dice Dos Passos— y debemos volver a ponernos en camino para encontrar de nuevo el espíritu y el dinamismo creador de los pioneros" [Añado: Y lo mismo dice Martin Luther King en 1960, y lo mismo dice Obama invocando su capital simbólico más de 40 años después — JAGL]
John F. Kennedy, el malogrado presidente, hablaba de una Nueva Frontera, y su hermano intentó ponerla en práctica. Después del asesinato de ambos, el cortejo de los rebeldes crece sordamente y los poetas de protesta empiezan a gritar. De las novelas y poemas de los grandes intelectuales de gafas sin montura, como de las de los cultos vagabundos de la vida bohemia, de los infinitos seriales de la televisión y de las películas de dibujos animados, se desprenden las mismas e ingenuas preguntas: ¿Por qué existe el mal en el mundo; por qué nuestra verdad no es la vuestra, por qué nuestra fuerza no os da miedo; por qué no existe el amor?
Al principio de esta obra se han intentado bosquejar el espquema histórico del comienzo de una explosión hacia el Oeste. Todas las flechas convergerán un día sobre el Atlántico. El país norteamericano es la isla de Robinsón después del naufragio, donde todo debía comenzar de nuevo, pero donde, en realidad, todo continúa: el Nuevo Mundo es menos nuevo de lo que creían, y por ello el estallido presitigioso de la literatura norteamericana, a partir de 1850, constituye con el de la rusa, casi contemporáneo, el fenómeno más importante de la historia de la moderna literatura universal.
El silencio colonial
Ninguna colonia produce literatura original; generalmente se limita a proporcionar cuadros exóticos a los novelistas de evasión y a los apóstoles del imperialismo, y en más raras ocasiones induce a algunas personalidades excepcionales a que acudan a la metrópoli a expresarse. Realizada cualquier colonización, transcurre bastante tiempo hasta que el trauma de la independencia sea superdo.
Esta constante se verifica también en América. Hasta finales del siglo XVIII, aparecen algunos notables escritores, pero ello no constituye en modo alguno una literatura. Los intelectuales, y muy especialmente los del Sur, nadando en dinero y en ocio, permanecen anclados en la literatura inglesa y, si se deciden a escribir, la imitan servilmente. Entre la Declaración de la Independencia y la publicación de las primeras obras con auténtica originalidad transcurre medio siglo como mínimo.
Los señoriales hidalgos del sur se deleitan con los Tottel's Miscellany, con los isabelinos y las colecciones de epigramas, mientras que los puritanos del norte prohíben la difusión de las obras de Milton, a quien acusan de impiedad; sin embargo, serán los puritanos los primeros que lograrán crear el armazón de una incipiente vida intelectual. En 1638, dieciocho años después de la llegada del Mayflower, fundan en Harvard un colegio que adquirió rápidamente categoría de universidad y, en 1647, gracias a una disposición de la magistratura de Massachusetts, se creó una escuela de estudios primarios en cada municipio de cincuenta familias y una de estudios de enseñanza media en cada municipio de cien familias, "para que los conocimientos humanos no queden sepultados en las tumbas de nuestros antepasados".
El cine y algunas novelas históricas modernas han cargado las tintas de modo abusivo al trazar el retrato del antiguo puritano; éste padeció, sin duda, la férula de pastores vigilantes y a menudo feroces hasta la crueldad y el oscurantismo, y que tal vez consideraban que lo único necesario para el hombre era la virtud y que todo corazón carnal debía estar sometido a ella; pero también eran hombres, con necesidades humanas. Hubo ciertamente caza de brujas, aberraciones místicas, terrorismos religiosos que engendraron abominables hipocresías, pero todo esto era lo peor que ofrecía Europa, y de ello procuraron los puritanos desprenderse, conservando, en cambio, lo mejor: la ciencia, las letras, e incluso los poemas, canciones y bailes de la "alegre Inglaterra." En 1639 se inauguraba una imprenta en Nueva Inglaterra, y el primer libro salido de sus prensas, el Bay Psalm Book, tuo el honor de una imitación fraudulenta en Londres.
Apenas se cita y aun de memoria a los primeros escritores neo-ingleses: Roger Williams (1604-1684), autor de una obra de éxito titulada El bautismo no hace al cristiano (1645), y John Eliot (1605-1690), que publicó un gran Tratado sobre el Estado Cristiano (1656). Sería interesante conocer mejor a Anne Bradstreet (1613-1672) y a su contemporáneo el juez Samuel Seewall, de datos biográficos casi desconocidos. Anne Bradstreet, nacida en Northampton (Inglaterra), era esposa de un pastor de Boston, madre de ocho hijos, un poco filósofa y algo más teóloga y poetisa. Su obra La décima musa comprende: "una descripción de los cuatro elementos, las constituciones, las edades del hombre, las estaciones del año, el resumen de las cuatro monarquías —asiria, persa, griega y romana— y un diálogo entre la antigua y la nueva Inglaterra con respecto a las diferencias surgidas recientemente", además de su mejor poema, Contemplations, y otros poemas sobre la familia y el marido de la autora. El juez Seewall parece haber sido un personaje más pintoresco todavía, que escribía su diario al estilo de Pepys, aunque en más noble estilo, en el que alude a sus tres matrimonios y a sus peripecias. Gracias a este diario podemos enterarnos de que en Nueva Inglaterra los pretendientes se hacían el amor dedicándose nada menos que libros piadosos.
FUNDADORES Y ADELANTADOS
Franklin y los comienzos de la Independencia
En el siglo XVIII domina todavía la literatura religiosa. Cotton Mather (1663-1728), profesor, inspector de enseñanza y pastor, es un puritano ortodoxo, valga la expresión, que aparece vivamente interesado en los procesos de brujería, en particular los que se desarrollaron en Salem. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), pastor también y discípulo de Locke, lanza un movimiento religioso llamado "El Gran Despertar", cuya doctrina es una modalidad de pietismo calvinista, apareciendo en él la primera manifestación de este misticismo empírico y pragmático, netamente romántico por lo demás, que caracteriza toda una vertiente de la vida religiosa norteamericana, y del que hallaremos notorias manifestaciones más elaboradas en Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman y William James.
A este mezquino inventario de dos siglos hay que añadir todavía al genial, simpático y al propio tiempo aburrido Benjamin Franklin (1707-1790). Hijo de artesanos, autodidacta e incluso tipo de "hombre que se hace a sí mismo", impresor, periodista, editor de la Gaceta de Pensilvania y de un Almanaque ilustrado, inventor del pararrayos, del calorífero, moralista, filósofo, meteorólogo, embajador y agente de "relaciones públicas" de su país en Francia, el enciclopédico Franklin anticipa lo mejor y lo peor del norteamericano futuro, y quizá lo permanente en este tipo humano. Es preciso leer sus memorias, desgraciadamente —o afortunadamente, según se considere— interrumpidas hacia 1757, y si es posible su colección de Ensayos, que agrupa sus principales artículos. Y olvidar, por un momento, que fue un gran hombre de ciencia.
Franklin es puritano y ateo a la vez, inagotable prodigador de consejos, temible inventor de recetas, desbordante de generosidad, de buena voluntad, aunque al propio tiempo rebosante de orgullo, con una ingenuidad con leves ribetes de hipocresía, capaz de concebir grandes pensamientos que rápidamente se abaten a ras de suelo.
Formula las veinticuatro normas de un club del "Mejoramiento Mutuo", que se convertirá más tarde en la Sociedad Filosófica Americana, y se supone fundadamente que tales normas nunca fueron puestas en práctica, pues, a fuerza de observarlas con rigor al instruirse, formarse o aprovecharse de las buenas ocasiones, los miembros se hubieran convertido en inquisidores y soplones. En sus consejos de conducta a un joven negociante, po ejemplo, todo lo resume en "el tiempo es oro". Justifica los salarios bajos e incluso la miseria de la clase pobre, en nombre de un pretendido beneficio general. Para dormir bien —dice— debe comerse poco, airear la habitación y tener la conciencia tranquila. Para hacer fortuna, objetivo de la existencia humana, es preciso ahorrar dinero, tiempo y energías, y usarlo todo con eficiencia; conviene recoger también los alfileres que se encuentran en el suelo y granjearse amigos, que sean buenos y útiles.
Por otra parte, "Ricardo el Buenazo", como a él le gustaba llamarse, también alude a la dignidad y al deber de ayudar a los países subndesarrollados, en términos definitivos, aunque englobados en un humor pesado y un moralismo mojigato como todo cuanto escribe. Benjamin Franklin parece una mezcla de Homais y Bournisien juntos y parece también iniciar un manantial cuyo curso se desarrolla a través del Dale Carnegie de Cómo tener amigos, el "Rearme moral", las espectaculares Ligas y Sociedades modernas norteamericanas y como ciertas comisiones de encuesta del Senado.
Posteriores a Franklin, y participando en parte de su espíritu, pueden ser citados también los grandes teóricos de la Independencia y de la libertad: Thomas Paine (1737-1809), autor de los Derechos del Hombre (1791) y del Siglo de la Razón (1794); William Ellery Channing (1780-1842), autor del Exterminador cristiano (1826); y Daniel Webster (1782-1852), padre de la Unión, cuyos discursos, publicados en 1903, amalgaman asimismo la generosidad y el conformismo hipócrita; y John Trumbull (1750-1831), poeta satírico, autor del Progreso de la estupidez (1772), sabrosa caricatura de la pedagogía pedantesca de aquel tiempo.
Sin embargo, todo ello no constituía una auténtica literatura. Los norteamericanos lo sabían y, por otra parte, también públicamente se decía lo mismo, sin ningún miramiento.
Se necesitan escritores
Un crítico del Edinburgh Review, llamado Sydney Smith, que mantuvo polémicas con algunos grandes escritores románticos, escribía en el número de diciembre de 1818: "¿Para qué necesitan los norteamericanos cultivar una literatura, si en su propia lengua pueden aprovecharse de nuestro sentido común, dnuestra ciencia y nuestro genio, y una simple travesía de seis semanas mantiene un seguro contacto? Praderas, barcos de vapor y fábricas de harina: éstos serán los únicos elementos naturales que se ofrecerán a sus miradas durante los siglos venideros. Más tarde, cuando hayan lelgado al océano Pacífico, sin duda se sentirán tentados de nuevo por el teatro, las epopeyas, la lírica y todas las elegantes y viejas consolaciones de un pueblo maduro que ha domado la tierra salvaje y decide dedicarse al reposo y a un ocio sugestivo y encantador."
Conviene fijarse en algunas frases de esta declaración, y ello dispensará de prolongar comentarios que desbordarían el marco de la literatura norteamericana. Tal era la doctrina y la filosofía que los románticos europeos atacaban con encono. Desacorde con la vida europea, lo era mucho más todavía en América; sin embargo, los intelectuales, educados en su mayor parte en la literatura europea, se adherían naturalmente a ella.
Con esta perspectiva deben ser considerados los textos que se citan a continuación. Charles Brockden Brown, al que volveremos a mencionar, escribía en 1800, en su efímero Monthly Magazine:
"Tenemos entre nosotros muchos sastres, carpinteros e incluso abogados; pero ¿tenemos un solo escritor, uno sólo?"
Chateaubriand anota en sus Memorias de ultratumba, con fecha de 1822, y con el texto revisado en 1846:
"La literatura que se cultiva en América no es una literatura independiente y propiamente dicha, sino aplicada a los diversos usos de la sociedad: una literatura de obreros, de marinos y de campesinos."
Por último, Tocqueville, en su obra genial De la democracia en América, que conviene leer para comprender la literatura americana, anota en 1881:
"Les gustan los libros adquiridos sin esfuerzo, que puedan leerse pronto, que no necesiten conocimientos eruditos para ser comprendidos. Piden bellezas fáciles y que puedan ser disfrutadas al instante; prefieren lo imprevisto y la novedad. Acostumbrados a una existencia práctica, impugnada, monótona, necesitan emociones nuevas, de súbito esplendor, verdades o errores brillantes, que les atraigan inmediatamente y las introduzcan de pronto e incluso con violencia en el mismo centro del tema."
Textos que ponen de relieve las abstenciones y las necesidades de un público.
Adelantados de las letras
El primero en intentar responder a estas necesidades fue Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810). En 1793 abandonó sus estudios de Derecho para vivir de la pluma y publicó algunas novelas. El hombre en su casa (1798), Wieland (1798), Arthur Merwyn (1799) y Ormond (1799), inspiradas en Maturin y Radcliffe, que obtuvieron éxito apreciable incluso en Europa. Sin embargo, Brown abandonó las letras decepcionado por no haber sabido escribir las novelas norteamericanas que soñara y también por considerar la literatura como una afición que debe abandonarse si no se triunfa de una manera absoluta y brillante. Luego se dedicó a los negocios.
No obstante, había iniciado la apertura hacia nuevas posibilidades y fueron novelistas, sobre todo, quienes le imitarion. La más ilustre fue Suzanna Rowson (1762-1824), autora de un libro de gran éxito titulado Charlotte Temple, a Tale of Truth (1810), libro que no puede hallarse hoy en parte alguna, aunque pueden leerse obras de otras autoras como Stephens, Carroll o Andrews, que explotan la misma temática. Estas voluminosas novelas sensibleras y melindrosas, generosas y soporíferas, carecen de valor literario alguno, pero no dejan de tener cierta significación. Sobre temas tradicionales —hijos perdidos, herencias robadas, hijas violadas—, orquestados sobre consabidos arquetipos tales como la joven pura, el pobre honrado y el joven rico y libertino, estos autores, que hacen abstracción de todos sus precursores literarios, por principio o por ignorancia, solian sumirse ingenuamente en una realidad más o menos vivida, si bien transformada por un resignado conformismo.
En el transformo del complejo relato que Stephens cuenta en Opulencia y Miseria, surge Nueva York con su puerto, sus barrios, sus hoteles ya cosmopolitas, su aristocracia del dinero, sus ambiciones de inmensa y devoradora codicia y sus infelices oprimidos; como también la oposición a cualquier injusticia, la firme voluntad de que la virtud sea recompensada e incluso sus manifestaciones de indignación ante las incoherencias de la vida y de los seres humanos, y de desesperación ante la inmensa tarea que se les ofrece a las personas de buena voluntad.
Todo ello no constituía tampoco una literatura, porque América no tenía todavía alma. Un moralista declaró que no la tendría hasta que llegase el momento que se decidiera a "sumirse en los abismos del mal y del dolor."
La marcha hacia el Oeste
El Tratado de Versalles de 1783 doblaba la extensión territorial de la Unión. En poco más de medio siglo, la nueva nación se extendería a través del continente hasta el Pacífico y empujaría al máximo la frontera mexicana. Todos los métodos de adquisición y anexión de territorios fueron utilizados: la pura y simple conquista, la compra más o menos abusiva, la ocupacion de hecho, la coacción, la guerra y el exterminio de indígenas autóctonos. Para percatarse del fenómeno, conviene situarlo sobre un mapa, y recordar que el rectángulo bloqueado por los dos grandes océanos mide aproximadamente [4.500] kilómetros de largo por  de ancho. Visto desde los estados originales de la costa atlántica, ya organizados, con ciudades, campos y tallleres, el Oeste aparecía como una inmensidad abierta y de atrayente vértigo. La expansión se dirige hacia él, organizada a base de compañías, oficinas, exploradores y guías, organizadores, creadores, parásitos.
En la Antigüedad, griegos, romanos, francos y mongoles avanzaban bastante al azar; pero en América, aunque los individuos improvisen y cada compañía actúe exclusivamente en interés de los suyos, una lógica de carácter superior le proporciona a este movimiento humano una coherencia y una continuidad asombrosas, y crea también una comunidad en las responsabilidades que casi nadi rehuye.
El emigrante procede de Inglaterra o de Irlanda, y muy pronto en grandes oleadas, de los demás países europeos, y acto seguido es atrapado por el siniestro engranaje de la fiebre del oro o de la adquisición de una gran fortuna y de la pasión conquistadora. Llegan aventureros ávidos de emociones fuertes, de dinero o de poder, y también familias honradas, campesinos o artesanos, eternos oprimidos que huyen de la miseria, la intolerancia y del odio racista. Como el viejo Johnson, jamás han tenido en sus manos un fusil, ni se han enfrentado con el desierto, pero después de haber vagado algún tiempo por el litoral y haber respirado el aire de libertad, de activismo, de la increíble hazaña al alcance de la mano, que estimula energías, en las ciudades-hongo, se sumergen en lo desconocido, alimentando con sus ilusiones personales el sueño de una nación en marcha. Cómplices quizá inconscientes del exterminio del indígena, y de la explotación humana en el Sur, importador de la esclavizada carne de ébano.
Las novelas de las praderas y el cine han tratado, hasta vulgarizarlo y aniquilarlo, este tema heroico: el carromato ambulante, los viajeros vestidos a la europea, las mujeres que adquieren de repente costumbres absurdas; y ante ellos el indio piel roja perfilándose hierático en la cima de una colina; jinetes con extraño vestuario y armados hasta los dientes, levantando una nube de polvo; el fuego de un campamento en medio de un claro del bosque; aulllidos de animales desconocidos; el sueño de una tierra prodigiosamente fértil; el desaliento del débil; el recurso al ron, al juego y al mito del oro que se recoge a montones... Y en el trasfondo de esta América en movimiento, sublime y criminal a la vez, inconsciente y heroica, se afirma y consolida la América sedentaria, la cabeza de puente de la emigración, puritana y hacendosa, superindividualista y comunitaria, compartida entre la Biblia y el libro de ingresos en caja, humilde y orgullosa, feliz y herida en el alma, confiada y desesperada.
En este paisaje humano contradictorio y atormentado deben situarse las necesidades y los gustos definidos anteriormente, a los que responderá, entre 1820 y 1860, la primera oleada de "escritores fundadores". Resumiendo en esquema este extraordinario estallido, podemos anotar la primera publicación de los diez mejores escritores, incluyendo al primer historiador de la Unión:
1819 Libro de ensayos, de W. Irving. 1823 Los pioneros, de F. Cooper. 1827 Poemas, de E. Poe. 1834 Historia de los Estados Unidos, de Bancroft 1836 Naturaleza, de Emerson 1840 Baladas, de Longfellow 1846 Typee, de Melville 1849 Una semana en los ríos, de Thoreau 1850 La letra escarlata, de Hawthorne 1851 La cabaña del tío Tom, de Beecher-Stowe 1855 Hojas de hierba, de Whitman
Estas obras no aparecen en pleno desierto, pues la vida intelectual es mucho más animada de lo que podría creerse, en Nueva Inglaterra principalmente. Desde mediados del siglo XVII existen importantes librerías, imprentas, periódicos semanales y compañías de teatro ambulantes; estas últimas, en el Sur exclusivamente, pues el puritanismo nordista juzgaba que "la afición al teatro no significa otra cosa que la pérdida de este tesoro inestimable que es el alma inmortal."
A mediados del siglo XVIII, principalmente bajo la influencia del Spectator de Addison y Steele, la actividad literaria aumenta todavía más y los semanarios llevan a cabo una apertura a la literatura europea. Por ejemplo, La ópera del mendigo aparece publicda por entregas; algunas compañías teatrales representan por doquier repertorio inglés, aunque también llevan a escena, circunstancialmente, a oscuros comediantes neo-ingleses. Pese a que escasean los escritores originales, innumerables publicistas dan a la luz pública artículos, libelos y cartas abiertas sobre todos los temas, en hojas sueltas o en los periódicos, que se multiplican a un ritmo significativo. En 1800 pueden contarse 200 de eyos, 375 en 1810, y 1200 aproximadamente en 1835.
Esta última fecha señala el momento decisivo del período 1820-1860. Los territorios anexionados—los dos tercios de los Estados Unidos actuales—están ya ocupados o al menos virtualmente dominados. América se percata de que empieza a tener ya una historia, y algunos se ufanan de elo, interpretándola a su manera. Este aislacionismo previo carece de fundamentos todavía. Al tropezar con nuevos obstáculos, al plantearse nuevos desafíos geográficos y humanos, el ovimiento de expansión se exacerba, hacia 1845, hasta adquirir un cariz neto y lucidamente imperialista. Por otra parte aparece una filosofía trascendentalista que sucederá a un puritanismo ya trasnochado. Antes de los colosos de las letras —Melville, Thoreau y Twain— destacan algunos aristócratas y románticos que siguen una moda.
Blog de notas de José Ángel García Landa (Biescas y Zaragoza) :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: "Algo hay en el formato mismo de los blogs que estimula un desarrollo casi canceroso de nuestro ego" (John Hiler)