ELCS6074 - Literature and the Struggle of Liberal Democracy
Value: 0.5 course units
Tutor: Dr Guillermo Laín Corona
This module will combine lectures, seminars and workshops, following, broadly, this plan:
3 weeks: Theory of literature and liberalism.
2 weeks: Il gattopardo: From the Ancien Régime to the Modern Liberal State.
2 weeks: 1984: Science-fiction view of totalitarianism.
3 weeks: Conversación en la catedral: totalitarianism and the disillusionment of communism, and La fiesta del chivo: novel of the dictatorship.
Assessment: 4 Moodle quizzes (10%) – one quiz prior to each novel, 2
assessed essays of 2,000 words each (45% each).
Several answers are possible to the question of what literature is, but, since World War II, many have considered literature as a portrayal of and (political) commitment with society. This module will offer an introduction to the aesthetics of politics in literature, studying relevant theoretical texts supporting this view, such as Jean Paul Sartre’s Qu'est-ce que la littérature? (1947), as well as the ideas by important Marxist critics, like Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin or Georg Lukács. Although this view seems to be (and, to a great extent, indeed is) linked to left-wing ideologies and writers, this module will show that literature as a mirror of (the problems of) society belongs to a very long tradition which could be called realist, going as far as Aristotle, and it can apply to different political attitudes. In fact, literature has been used frequently to address the challenges of the Western Liberal Democracy, and this will be studied here taking into consideration the work of three relevant writers covering different literary manners in the second half of the 20th century. Lampedusa’s Il gattopardo (1958) shows the intricacies of the transition from the Ancien Régime towards the Modern Liberal State. George Orwell and Mario Vargas Llosa offer two different oppositions (both politically and aesthetically) to totalitarianism: while 1984 (1949) is the view à la science-fiction of a committed social democrat, Conversación en la catedral (1969), a so-called by Hispanists experimentalist-realistic novel, and La fiesta del chivo (2000), a political thriller, convey the opinion of a communist-turned-liberal intellectual. Unavoidably, students will also address notions on Liberalism and Democracy.
Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:
- Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi di (1991): The Leopard, translated from the Italian by Archibald Colquhoun and introduction by David Gilmour (London: Everyman's Library). Any other edition is possible.
- Orwell, George (2007): 1984, edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House). Any other edition is possible.
- ----- (2000): ‘Why I Write’ and ‘Writers and Leviathan’, in Essays (London: Penguin Books in association with Secker & Warburg). Any other edition is possible. Other essays by Orwell will also be discussed in class.
- Sartre, Jean-Paul (1993): What is Literature?, with an introduction by David Caute and translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman (London: Routledge). Any other edition is possible.
- Vargas Llosa, Mario (2002): The Feast of the Goat, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman (London: Faber and Faber). Any other edition is possible.
- ----- (1975): Conversation in the Cathedral, translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa (New York-London: Harper & Row). Any other edition is possible.
- ----- (2011): ‘Literature is Fire’ and ‘The Truth of the Lies’, in Making Waves: Essays, ed. and trans. John King (New York: Farrar, Strauss and and Giroux). Any other edition is possible. Other essays by Orwell will also be discussed in class.
- Arblaster, Anthony (1984): The Rise and Decline of Western Liberalism (Oxford: Blackwell).
- Macpherson, C. B. (1977): The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
- Miller, David, ed. (1991): Liberty (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
- Pennock, J. Roland, and Chapman, John W. (1982): Liberal Democracy (New York: New York University Press).
- Ramsay, Maureen (1997): What’s Wrong with Liberalism: A Radical Critique of Liberal Political Thought (London-Washington: Leicester University Press).
- Eagleton, Terry (2006): Criticism and Ideology: A Study in Marxist Literary Theory (London: Verso).
- Eagleton, Terry, and Milne, Drew, eds. (1996): Marxist Literary Theory: A Reader (Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell).
- Jameso, Fredic, ed. (1977): Aesthetics and Politics (London: New Left Books).
- Selden, Raman; Widdowson, Peter, and Brooker, Peter (2005): A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory (London, Pearson-Longman).
- Wolff, Janet (1993): The Social Production of Art (London: Macmillan).
- Cainen, Brian (1998): Study Guide to ‘Il Gattopardo’ (Market Harborough: Troubadour).
- Gilmour, David (1988): The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe di Lampedusa (London: Quartet).
- Bounds, Philip (2005): Orwell and Marxism: The Political and Cultural Thinking of George Orwell (London: I.B. Tauris).
- Carr, Craig L. (2010): Orwell, Politics, and Power (New York- London: Continuum).
- Gleason, Abbott, Goldsmith, Jack, and Nussbaum, Martha C., eds. (2005): On Nineteen Eighty-Four: Orwell and Our Future (Princeton, N.J.-Oxford: Princeton University Press).
- Hynes, Samuel, ed. (1971): Twentieth Century Interpretations of 1984: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall).
- Howe, Irving (2002): Politics and the Novel (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee).
- Woodcock, George (1984): Orwell's Message: 1984 and the Present (Madeira Park, B.C.: Harbour).
Mario Vargas Llosa:
- Marcus-Delgado, Jane (2004): “Demonic Power and Political Discourse in Mario Vargas Llosa's La fiesta del chivo”, Confluencia, 19.2, 125-133.
- Muñoz, Braulio (2000): A Storyteller: Mario Vargas Llosa between Civilization and Barbarism (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers).
- Kristal, Efraín, and King, John, eds. (2012): The Cambridge Companion to Mario Vargas Llosa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
- Kristal, Efraín (1998): Temptation of the Word: The Novels of Mario Vargas Llosa (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press).
- Köllmann, Sabine (2002): Vargas Llosa's Fiction & the Demons of Politics (Oxford: Peter Lang).