Dandy in the Underworld of Newspaper Prose:
Wildean Aestheticism and the Literary Marketplace
This talk presents research from my book project. Things Passed Over: The Modern Novel and the Scandal of Revision offers a new account of the form and social force of the 19th- and 20th-century novel by regrounding textual criticism in critical theory. It argues that novelists since Gustave Flaubert have seized on seemingly trivial textual details—errors, appendices, censorial intrusions—in order to reveal the unspoken social and narrative potential of the novel form. The pragmatic reading protocols and philological methods that these details require might seem foreign to modernism’s aestheticist sensibility, but my approach uncovers a social history overlooked by a narrower formalist criticism. This in turn shows how modernist novelists repurpose an “ordinary” textuality that might have been recognizable to an earlier phase in the history of the novel, but was largely eclipsed by the representational practices of 19th-century realism. The suppressed scenes of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary over which its 1857 obscenity trial obsesses; the journalistic media occulted within Oscar Wilde’s 1890–91 revisions of The Picture of Dorian Gray; the asterisks Djuna Barnes uses to figure editorial censorship in Ryder (1928); Samuel Beckett’s refusal to correct errata in successive editions of Watt (1953)—such materials reorganize the work at its core, converting the textually extrinsic into the hermeneutically intrinsic. This strange social text results in a new sort of literary object, one that relies on a rhetoric of paralipsis, of saying by not saying, to narrate the world less by representation than by a touch of the textual real. It includes traces of composition and editing processes that silently shape the world by enjoining its practices of reception. Accordingly, reinvigorating materialist aesthetics with textual and philological methods allows us to grasp an unnoticed dimension in the history of the novel: from the 1848 revolutions to World War II, the novel shifts its engagement with the world from mimesis to materiality.
The talk will focus on the project’s chapter on Oscar Wilde, tracing a reception controversy that comes to shape modernist style. Wilde may profess to exclude the public from art, but his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray embeds its own public reception by way of omission. To grasp the true scandal of this work, we need to attend to the relation between the novel’s multiple, incommensurable published forms and the scandalous public reception it received. What we have come to recognize as aestheticist autonomy involves a detour through social controversies and media spectacles. By physically including its own reception, the “final” text mediates its confrontation with the public in a real, rather than symbolic, resolution.
Creasy earned his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley in the English Department and the Program in Critical Theory. His research and teaching interests range across 18th–20th-century Anglophone, Francophone, and Germanophone literatures, with particular emphasis on the history of the novel; and continental philosophy, with especial focus on German Idealism, aesthetics, psychoanalysis, and critical theory. He has scholarly work published or forthcoming in Novel: A Forum on Fiction, Modern Philology, and Qui Parle.
时间: 2019年11月28日(星期四) 11:45-12:45