Silence and Subject in Modern Literature Spoken Violence

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-10-04
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
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In Peter Handke's play Kaspar, a young man is forced to learn to speak: a process that is a form of physical torture to him. In Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, the young heroine desires to keep as silent as possible, since speech directed at her causes such pain. We are not allowed to remain silent, even when the cost of speech is torture and pain.
Silence and Subject in Modern Literature uses a wide variety of texts from forms such as the modern crime novel, via popular classics from authors such as Jane Austen, to avant-garde plays by Samuel Beckett and Handke, to study literary representations of the power relations in which we are forced to speak. Informed by critical theory by Foucault and Bakhtin among others, and touching on fields as diverse as rhetoric, feminism, and the concept of literature, Silence and Subject in Modern Literature engages closely with a central issue in modern life: spoken violence.

Author Biography

Ulf Olsson is Professor of Comparative Literature, teaches at Stockholm University, Sweden and has also taught at University of California, Berkeley, USA and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. He has published books on Strindberg, and on contemporary Swedish literature, as well as on improvised music. Olsson also works as a literary critic.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Cordelia's Silence, Spoken Violence
1. The Exemplary Becomes Problematic, or Gendered Silence: Jane Austen
2. The Secrets of Silence: Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Musil's Tonka
3. Refusal, or The Mute Provocateurs: Bartleby Meets Yvonne
4. The Other of Monologue: Strindberg, Camus, Beckett
5. Interrogation, or Forced to Silence: Rankin, Harris, Pinter, Duras
6. Literature as Coerced Speech: Peter Handke's Kaspar
7. Epilogue: The Silence of the Sirens
8. Bibliography 

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