The Ideologies of Lived Space in Literary Texts, Ancient and Modern
Jo Heirman, University of Amsterdam
Jacqueline Klooster, University of Amsterdam
Copyright Year: 2013
ISBN 13: 9789038221021
Publisher: Academia Press
Conditions of Use
The book does a great job in covering narrative texts across time, from antiquity to the modern period. It is difficult to completely judge the comprehensiveness of a project of this nature, as so much lies outside the scope of any single book.... read more
The book does a great job in covering narrative texts across time, from antiquity to the modern period. It is difficult to completely judge the comprehensiveness of a project of this nature, as so much lies outside the scope of any single book. However, the editors have done a remarkable job in selecting essays that represent texts of varying origin, in terms of both time and place. Personally, I would have liked to see a little more engagement with texts that could be classified as "post-colonial", especially given that the editor's acknowledge the importance of post-colonial literature to the study of space. However, the book is a comprehensive look at representations of and reactions to lived space in literary texts.
The book is error-free and cannot be described as biased. As an edited volume of essays, the book brings together a variety of perspectives and approaches to the subject, while remaining coherent.
This book has the potential to be a frequently referenced and oft-cited work on the subject of lived space in literary texts. While new work on this subject is always being published, the essays featured in this book do provide a base for future scholars to understand the orientations of the field and to discover new areas of theoretical exploration. The nature of the literary texts analysed in the essays featured in this book might mean that the book as a whole appears more relevant to those interested in the classics and antiquity, though just a little fewer than half the essays are concerned with modern texts. As is mentioned in the introduction, this book is a response to the "spatial turn" in the humanities. This tendency in humanities scholarship has proved itself to be sustainable, and there is reason to believe that this book could feature as an open resource on this subject. Scholarly tendencies are subject to change in direction, however, but the relevance of this book is unquestioned in the foreseeable future.
All the essays featured in this book feature lucid, accessible prose. The book's introduction does a great job in introducing the reader to humanistic theories of space and its relevance to literary studies in simple language. Even as somewhat of an expert in this field, I was impressed by the succinctness and clarity of the explanations in the introduction.
All essays in the book share basic assumptions about the relevance of studying the representation and use of space in literary texts. Further, all essays take Foucauldian analyses of space as a touchstone, serving as a base to their individual theoretical frameworks. Despite the wide variety of literary texts examined in the book, the consistency of theoretical approach makes this book easy to read.
The book is well laid out. It is organised into five distinct sections, and the rationale for this organisation is made clear in the introduction. As a product of an academic conference, the essays included in the book share obvious connections to each other. The internal consistency of this book makes it easy to read and refer. Further, as the book consists of individual essays, any of them can be cited as an individual example of scholarship on the subject of space in literature.
The essays are organized thematically. The division into sections according to theme is clear.
The book is easy to scroll and well laid out.
There are no grammatical errors.
While the book could have featured more essays on literary texts from the Third World/Global South, it is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. The essays that do analyse non-Western texts are to be recommended.
This book focuses on explicating the ideological role of space in ancient and modern literary texts. It focuses on "lived space", or space that is experienced and valued by a literary character, thus enabling us to understand the possible implications of experience and power in and for these spaces. Therefore, the concept of "ideological role of space" is divided into two broad categories - 1) lived space and society and 2) lived space and power. The book is divided into five sections. The first three sections broadly deal with analyses of the emotional, psychological, and cultural reactions to space as seen in a variety of literary texts. The last two sections are concerned with how space is used in narratives of power and conquest, and how, in turn, political power influences the representation of space. These two themes are not watertight distinctions, however, and both kinds of arguments can be found in every essay in the book.
It is most impressive how comprehensively this book delves into a such a vast range and variety of texts, moving seamlessly from Sophocles, Pliny the Elder, and Athenian funeral orations to 19th century novels. It is a vast topic, truly, but the... read more
It is most impressive how comprehensively this book delves into a such a vast range and variety of texts, moving seamlessly from Sophocles, Pliny the Elder, and Athenian funeral orations to 19th century novels. It is a vast topic, truly, but the text is accomplished in this respect; when it chooses to analyze the construction of nationalist narrative, for instance, the book manages to span a nearly two-thousand-year expanse, moving from Virgil's Aeneid and an epic poet's introduction of eternity to the identity of ancient Rome, to Soutsos' 19th Century novel O Leandros and its nationalistic vision of modern Greece.
I am confident regarding the absence of bias and about the accuracy of the research and perspectives being shared in The Ideologies of Lived Space.
The range of this text--ancient and modern-- in my opinion renders the question of relevance and longevity inapplicable. I would predict is that this study remains of interest and resilent in its ideas, and continues to be considered an edifying resource on literary space.
As a textbook, this book is not an adoption for a beginning literature class. However, this text is lucid and accessible to more nuanced students, and would provide notable and useful insight for them into the concept of space. It would make a fine textbook for a specialized literature course embracing space as its central subject, and certainly could be a relevant and worthwhile focus for students in such a literature class at the upper division undergraduate or graduate level.
I did find the text internally consistent in terminology and framework, with much conceptual and theoretical overlap: Foucault's heterotopias and Bahktin's chronotypes were central concepts in many of these essays, and of course, the spatial precedent of epic poetry seemed somewhat ever-present; a healthy balance was struck between less familiar poets like Nonnus, and the more famous bards-- Horace, Virgil, and Homer.
Idealogies of Lived Space manages the feat of gathering a series of intriguing essays on a single concept. These are arranged in five separate themes: Lived space and Society; Heterotopic spaces and Chronotopes; Ecocriticism and Space; Space and Power; and lastly, Spaces and the Deconstruction of Power. The book is indeed divided in a fashion that would permit instructors to assign readings at different points in a course, and these section titles could even be configured as an organization for a course. An index allows students to gravitate toward topics of particular interest.
There was a splendid blend of longer and shorter essays, and each were encased in a sensibly titled, relevant section of text. The book made good sense structurally and organizationally.
The text was not distracting or confusing in any way with its displayed features.
I did find two typos( on page 26 and page 129) but there was no evidence of significant grammatical errors. It is a very sound text grammatically.
This text was multicultural and inclusive in its approach, and invited a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds to its pages. Both Homer and Jamacia Kincaid were present in its pages. A host of disciplines also were showcased and participated ably in the study, with a multitude of poets, philosophers, historians, and storytellers represented. The text seemed quintessentially openminded and did not offend.
In the tradition of Bachelard's The Poetics of Space, this Idealogies of Lived Space opens and explores space as a concept in literature. I found the book captivating and resoundingly enjoyable on many levels and will return to it in the future. I would indeed recommend its use it for a literature course and as a tool for open students' minds to the captivating concept of literary space.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Lived Space And Society
- Cave And Cosmos
- Space And Myth
Part 2 Heterotopical Spaces And Chronotopes
- Grave Stories
- The Theatre As Heterotopia
- Symbolic ‘Lived Spaces' In Ancient Greek Lyric And The Heterotopia Of The Symposium
- The Symposium
- Producing Utopian Space
Part 3 Ecocriticism And Space
- Imagined Space/Lived Space, Alienation/Destruction,
- Nature's Helping Hand
Part 4 Space And Power
- ‘No Bounds In Space Or Time'
- Argo Was Here
- The Epitaphios, Civic Ideology And The Cityscape Of Classical Athens
- Inventing A National Narrative
Part 5 Spaces And The Deconstruction Of Power
- Small Places
- Writing Space, Living Space
About The Authors
About the Book
In a brief essay called Des espaces autres (1984) Michel Foucault announced that after the nineteenth century, which was dominated by a historical outlook, the current century might rather be the century of space. His prophecy has been fulfilled: the end of the twentieth century witnessed a ‘spatial turn' in humanities which was perhaps partly due to the globalisation of our modern world. Inspired by the spatial turn in the humanities, this volume presents a number of essays on the ideological role of space in literary texts. The individual articles analyse ancient and modern literary texts from the angle of the most recent theoretical conceptualisations of space. The focus throughout is on how the experience of space is determined by dominant political, philosophical or religious ideologies and how, in turn, the description of spaces in literature is employed to express, broadcast or deconstruct this experience. By bringing together ancient and modern, mostly postcolonial texts, this volume hopes to stimulate discussion among disciplines and across continents. Among the authors discussed are: Homer, Nonnus, Alcaeus of Lesbos, Apollonius of Rhodes, Vergil, Herodotus, Panagiotis Soutsos, Assia Djebar, Tahar Djaout, Olive Senior, Jamaica Kincaid, Stefan Heym, Benoit Dutuertre, Henrik Stangerup and David Malouf.