Literary Spinoffs

Literary Spinoffs

Rewriting the Classics - Re-Imagining the Community
Nordamerikastudien, Band 35 1. Aufl.

von: Birgit Spengler

39,99 €

Verlag: Campus Verlag
Format: PDF
Veröffentl.: 05.03.2015
ISBN/EAN: 9783593430645
Sprache: deutsch
Anzahl Seiten: 500

Dieses eBook enthält ein Wasserzeichen.


Birgit Spengler untersucht in ihrer Arbeit das zeitgenössische Genre der »Spinoffs« – Romane, die klassische kanonische Werke der amerikanischen Literatur kreativ um- und fortschreiben. Am Beispiel der schreibenden Auseinandersetzung mit Klassikern wie »Moby-
Dick« oder den »Adventures of Huckleberry Finn« entschlüsselt sie die literarischen Strategien, die »Spinoffs« nutzen, um auf gesamtkulturelle Sinnstiftungsprozesse Einfluss zu nehmen und sich in die kulturelle Imagination einzuschreiben. Dabei stellen diese Romane auch die Frage nach der Abgeschlossenheit von Kunstwerken, nach kulturellem Kapital und geistigem Eigentum neu.
Acknowledgements 9
Introduction 11
1. Literary Spinoffs: An Intertextual Genre 30
1.1.Spinoff Aesthetics: Explicitness and Intensity of the Intertextual Relation 32
1.2Oscillation and Good Continuation 36
1.30-2: Text and Context/Text and Matrixes 41
1.4The "Dialogic" Involvement with the Pre-Text:
Dark Areas and In-/Compatibility of Fictional Worlds 44
1.5Spinoffs as Communicative Genre: Dialogue and Dialogics 48
1.6Intertextual Contexts 50
2.Re-Visioning Intertextuality: Models and Debates 61
2.1Predecessors: Poststructuralist vs. Descriptive Intertextuality 62
2.2Alternative Positions 73
2.3A Working Model of Intertextuality in Cultural and Literary Analysis 78

3.Cultural Work and the Functions of Genre 97
3.1Cultural Work 99
3.2Exclusion and Inclusion: Spinoffs and/as Participatory Culture 102
3.3The Literary Marketplace and Cultural Capital 107
3.4Copyrights and Copywrongs: Who "Owns" Culture? 111
3.5Revisiting the Nineteenth Century 116
4.Ahab's Wife: A Cannibal of a Book? 125
Ow(n)ing Melville 125
4.1Appropriating Melville 131
Swimming through Libraries, Weaving the Web: Levels and Methods of Intertextual Engagement in Ahab's Wife 134
Whose Melville? 142
4.2The World as Ship: Mad Hunts, Male Myths 150
Melville's Male Microcosm 150
Moby-Dick as Quest Narrative: Ahab's Quest156
Male Quests Reconsidered164
Re-Considering the World of Male Bonding175
4.3Re-Writing the Quest: From Soaring Spirit to Social Vision 180
Invading the World of the Ship, Questioning Separate Spheres182
Diving and Soaring187
Una's (In-)Sights: Freedom and Community196
Reading Melville through Discourses of Slavery203
(Mis-)Guided Missions-Commenting on National Quests 208
4.4The Quill and the Quilt: Art as Social Vision 211
The Quilt and the Quill: Sewing and Writing as Means of Coping 212
The Life of Art: Creating a Community of Texts222

5.From Playing Pilgrim to Waging War: March 229
The Return of the Father229
5.1Little Women: Alcott's Classic? 233
"Moral Pap for the Young" vs. Female Myth 233
Little Women's Intertexts 237
5.2Little Women and Colossal Fathers: March's Pre-Texts 245
Re-Writing Little Women 245
Literary Intertexts 248
History and Biography as Intertexts 253
5.3March's Civil Wars: Gender, Soul-Wrestling, Slavery, and Innocence 259
The Missing Father as Husband: Sex Wars 261
The Father as Pilgrim: A Transcendentalist's Civil "Wars"270
Re-Viewing the National Founding Story, Re-Imagining the Civil War278
The End of Innocence: March's National Bequests288
A Trunk Full of Books300
6.American Pastorals? Re-Reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 304
6.1Twain's Fame: The Hypercanonization of Mark Twain
and Huckleberry Finn 304
6.2Reading Huckleberry Finn: Hermeneutic Agendas 311
Hannibal Nostalgia: Imagined Childhoods and Pasts314
The Mississippi as Alternative Space: Freedom and Civilization 322
Race in Huckleberry Finn: Voice, Plot, and Characterization 328
6.3My Jim: Huckleberry Finn as Neo-Slave Narrative 338
In the Margins of Twain's World: Turning Huckleberry Finn into a Narrative of Slavery 340
Re-Dressing Jim: From Minstrel Mask to White Man's Hat 359
Mississippi Myths 367

6.4The Bequests of the Fathers: Fatherhood, Inheritances, and the Role of the Past in Finn 385
Rewriting Pap Finn: Intertextual Strategies in Finn 389
Fatherly Bequests and River Nightmares: Finn and the Nature/Civilization Divide 394
Huck's Blackness405
Whence, America? National Origins and Narrative Voice 410
The Writings on the Whitewashed Wall 415
In Search of Narrative Alternatives 421
Conclusion: Story-Telling, Libraries, Trunks of Books, and the Writing on the Whitewashed Wall 429
Bibliography 452
List of Illustrations 492
Birgit Spengler, PD Dr., ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin im Bereich Amerikanistik der Universität Frankfurt am Main.
In the spring and summer of 2001, a literary "case" kept readers of the New York Times and other American dailies busy. Like other literary headlines, this case involved central aspects of the United States's literary and cultural heritage-questions as to the ways cherished authors of the past and their oeuvres "live" in the contemporary imagination, how they are constructed in popular and academic discourses, and what effect the publication of new or hitherto unknown material has on such constructs. However, Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone was a case in the literary and the literal sense of the word: a novel that triggered a lawsuit and fostered debates concerning the nature of creativity, intellectual property, and cultural communication-about who "owns" culture and whether literary and cultural artefacts and the imaginative realms associated with them constitute "private" terrains that can or should be protected from trespassing, or a "commons" available to the imaginative strolls, or even extended excursions, of all.
The Wind Done Gone put the limelight onto a type of text that proliferates in contemporary literature and that I will refer to as "literary spinoff." As applied in the following, the term "spinoff" describes fictional texts that take their cues from famous, and often canonical, works of literature, which they revise, rewrite, adapt or appropriate as a whole or in parts, thus producing alternative voices and/or historical or geographical re-locations for texts that are generally well known to contemporary audiences-be it because of their status as cultural classics and long-term readers' favorites, or because of their medial presence in cinema or tv versions. Specifically, Randall imag­ines the story of a female (ex-)slave from the Tara Plantation of Margaret Mitchell's Civil War epos Gone With the Wind. As Scarlett's half-sister and Rhett Butler's mistress, Cyanara's story unveils an alternative vision of the "Old South," one that includes miscegenation, gay relationships, and the death, both actually and symbolically, of the Southern heroine. The "danger" that plot elements such as these pose to the "myth" disseminated by Mitchell's novel and its famous film version becomes apparent when considering the Mitchell estate's considerable efforts to protect it: In fact, Randall broke each of the conditions that are pre-requisites for authorized rewritings, continuations, or prequels-no miscegenation, no homosexuality, and the survival of the heroine.
Although most contemporary spinoff novels do not start their public careers as court cases, The Wind Done Gone highlights a problem increasingly encountered by writers who propose to explicitly rework the popularly and/or critically esteemed texts of the past and the cultural heritages associated with them: Just like The Wind Done Gone, J. D. California's parodic reprise of Salinger's Catcher in the Rye (1951), 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye (2009) has recently triggered a lawsuit, as did Lo's Diary by Pia Pera, a rewriting of Lolita, on the eve of its publication in English translation (1999), and, on the other side of the Atlantic, the Astrid Lindgren retelling Die doppelte Pippielotta in 2009. As the back and forth between the lawyers of the Mitchell estate, Randall's defenders, and the affidavits of literary and scholarly heavyweights such as Toni Morrison, Harper Lee, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Linda Hutcheon, and Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. demonstrate, the question as to who "owns" culture, and who may claim the leeway to meddle with powerful mental images and interpretatory traditions as conveyed by literary texts, hits the nerve of the time and has far-reaching consequences. Not the least, these include the bases of plurality in societies increasingly determined by ownership and the accumulation of resources in the hands of a powerful few as well as by an increasing control of processes of social and cultural meaning-making that is a consequence of the above.
Accordingly, and despite its somewhat unusual-although by no means singular-"career," the engagement with powerful myths and narratives of the past renders The Wind Done Gone an apt representative of what in fact constitutes a contemporary and timely genre as I will argue in the following. As characteristic of texts of this emerging literary tradition, The Wind Done Gone signals and even openly "advertises" its intertextual nature in the title and through other paratextual markers, as well as by means of shared characters and/or plot elements. Through such striking gestures of affiliation, literary spinoffs direct their readers to a mode of reception that will acknowledge the text's deliberate association with a literary predecessor and take it into account. In Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), a rewriting of Jane Eyre (1848) and one of the founding texts of the genre, Jean Rhys resurrects the lost voice of Antoinette Cosway alias Bertha Mason, thus telling a well-known story from a previously neglected perspective and establishing a pattern that turned out to be extremely attractive to following generations of writers, including, just over the past twenty years and in the United States alone, Sena Jeter Naslund, Michael Cunningham, Jane Smiley, Geraldine Brooks, Anita Diamond, Jon Clinch, Nancy Rawles, Cynthia Ozick, E.L. Doctorow, and Mat Johnson.
In a less temporally and geographically determined context, the remarkable proliferation of spinoffs, especially in the 1990s and 2000s, becomes even more apparent, with considerable contributions from British and postcolonial contexts such as Foe (J. M. Coetzee, 1986), Two Women of London (Emma Tennant, 1989), Mary Reilly (Valerie Martin, 1990), Indigo (Marina Warner, 1992), Tess (Tennant, 1993), Jack Maggs (Peter Carey, 1997), Windward Heights (Maryse Conde, 1999), Dorian (Will Self, 2002), and Mr Pip (Lloyd Jones, 2006)-let alone less intensive or less demonstrative "rewritings" such as The True Adventures of Lizzie Newton (Smiley, 1998) and Ragtime (Doctorow, 1991), as well as earlier, and more playful postmodernist uses of intertextuality like Kathy Acker's Great Expectations (1982) and Don Quixote (1986), Ishmael Reed's Flight to Canada (1976), John Barth's The Sot-Weed Factor (1960), Snow White (1967) by Donald Barthelme, and John Fowles's pastiche, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969). Beyond the English language context, novels such as Pera's aforementioned Lo's Diary (originally entitled Diario di Lo, 1995), Die Neuen Leiden des jungen W. (1972) by Ulrich Plenzdorf, and Christa Wolf's Kassandra (1983) could be added to this fragmentary list. The great number and variety of spinoffs and rewritings in general not only demonstrates the popularity of intertextual aesthetic practices during the past decades, but also that the boundaries between spinoffs in the narrow sense defined above and other forms of rewritings are fluid. Perhaps the proliferation and success of the genre can best be demonstrated by the fact that fictional authors of spinoff novels have themselves begun to populate the pages of literary fiction, as is the case in Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello (2003), whose eponymous fictional authoress retrieves Molly Bloom from her reductionist portrayal in her extremely successful spinoff novel The House on Eccles Street.
Viewing spinoffs as a contemporary genre has at least two important implications. First of all, it is based on the assumption that forms of intertextuality are culturally and historically situated. In other words, specific forms of intertextuality emerge-or are particularly frequently employed-in specific historical and cultural contexts, and their aesthetic strategies and "ends" or "functions" are therefore by no means "uniform" or "universal" within literary and cultural history. Some intertextual forms are closely related to specific periods of literary history, whereas others, such as parody, have been firmly established as literary forms, genres, or techniques for centuries. Moreover, due to political climates, cultural preoccupations, aesthetic inclinations, and epistemological or discursive contexts, some periods in the literary histories of Western cultures have given rise to intertextual activities of a more pronounced and intense nature than others. Hence, conceptualizations of the literary and cultural work performed by intertextual forms and those forms themselves are subject to historical change-and so are the intertextual strategies employed. Like changing definitions of the novel, of literature's relation to the world, or changing theories of knowledge, conceptualizations and conventions or forms of intertextuality change over time, react to socio-historical, and, above all, ideological, philosophical, and discursive shifts, and can, in turn, affect these. This implies that the emergence or preponderance of a distinct form of intertextuality at a given moment in literary and cultural history, as well as shifts in the theoretical explanations that account for the phenomenon, can also serve as appropriate tools for reflecting on their respective historical and cultural contexts.

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