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The Linguistic Academy Journal of Interdisciplinary Language Studies. Vol. 1

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Abstract

The first issue of yearly review of language and literary studies published by LSW in Warsaw.
ISSN 2083-120X
The Linguistic Academy Journal
of Interdisciplinary Language Studies
Roczniki Naukowe Lingwistycznej Szkoły Wyższej
w Warszawie
Nr 1, Rok Akademicki 2010/2011
Warszawa 2011
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Rada Rocznika / Recenzenci:
Prof. dr hab. Robert Cieślak
Prof. dr hab. Piotr Urbański
Prof. dr Małgorzata Fabiszak
Prof. dr hab. Halina Stasiak
Prof. dr hab. Zofi a Jancewicz
Redakcja:
Redaktor Naczelny: Prof. dr Jo Lewkowicz
Redaktor: Dr Krzysztof Fordoński
Sekretarz: Mgr Paweł Wojtas
© Copyright by Lingwistyczna Szkoła Wyższa w Warszawie
Projekt okładki:
Lingwistyczna Szkoła Wyższa w Warszawie
Wydawca:
Lingwistyczna Szkoła Wyższa w Warszawie
ul. Ogrodowa 46/48
00-876 Warszawa
plwojtas@gmail.com
Druk:
Skład, łamanie, druk i oprawa:
Sowa – Druk na życzenie
www.sowadruk.pl
tel. (+48) 22 431 81 40
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Contents
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Przedmowa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Section One/Część Pierwsza
Two Minor Dramatic Experiments. Edward Morgan Forster
and His Pageants
Krzysztof Fordoński . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Living with Lawrence’s Silent Ghosts: a Lacanian Reading
of “Glad Ghosts”
Matt Foley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Prefatory Matters: Prefaces, Readers and the Evolution of the Novel
in Nashe, Behn and Defoe
Stuart O’Donnell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Writer or the Written? : Remarks on Gender and Language in Geoffrey
Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
Paweł Wojtas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
An Outline of Irish Famine Historiography
Paweł Hamera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
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Section Two/Część Druga
Egzaminy doniosłe w oczach badaczy polskich
Elżbieta Zawadowska-Kittel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Kulturo- i realioznawstwo w programach nauczania języka polskiego
i niemieckiego jako obcych. Analiza porównawcza
Przemysław E. Gębal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Authors‘ biodata . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
Notes for Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
Contents
4
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Editors’ Preface
We would like to welcome you to The Linguistic Academy Journal of Interdisciplinary Lan-
guage Studies. It is a new initiative intended to mark the beginning of the second decade
of The Linguistic Academy of Warsaw.
This project has been conceived as a reviewed yearly scholarly journal which will
cover a cross section of articles on and about languages and cultures. It will be interdis-
ciplinary in nature, covering various aspects of linguistics and applied linguistics, lit-
erature, cultural studies, as well as related aspects of history. As it can be seen from this
issue, our journal will be characterised by its bilingual nature: articles will be accepted in
Polish and English – with abstracts provided in both languages.
In this fi rst issue we have included a selection of articles which, we hope, fulfi l these
requirements. We open with an article written by Krzysztof Fordoński who discusses
the novelist E. M. Forster, and his little known dramatic attempts from the 1930s. The
second article offers a Lacanian reading of a less known short story by Forster’s contem-
porary D. H. Lawrence, proposed by Matt Foley. Stuart O’Donnell takes us in his article
further back in time to the 16-18th centuries and the early novelistic attempts of Nashe,
Behn, and Defoe, discussing the importance of their various paratexts. The fourth arti-
cle, written by Paweł Wojtas, deals with the medieval poem Troilus and Criseyde by Ge-
offrey Chaucer, focussing on the relations between language and gender.The next pa-
per is , Paweł Hamera’s study which delves into the historiography of the Irish Famine.
The section in Polish opens with an article by Elżbieta Zawadowska-Kittel, in which she
critiques the high-stakes centralised exams within the Polish educational system. This
issue ends with Przemysław Gębal’s comparative analysis of some Polish and German
school curricula viewed through the lens of cultural studies.
The fi rst volume is thus complete but this is where our adventure begins. This vol-
ume concentrates almost exclusively on British literature and history. This, however,
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is by no means, our plan for the future. We would like to welcome submissions to our
second issue dealing also with other literatures and cultures, hoping that The Linguistic
Academy Journal of Interdisciplinary Language Studies will become a vibrant place for
exchange of ideas.
Jo Lewkowicz, Krzysztof Fordoński, Paweł Wojtas
Editors’ Preface
6
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Przedmowa edytorska
Zapraszamy Państwa do lektury The Linguistic Academy Journal of Interdisciplinary Lan-
guage Studies (Rocznika Naukowego Lingwistycznej Szkoły Wyższej w Warszawie). Nasze
czasopismo to nowa inicjatywa, która ma zaznaczyć początek drugiej dekady działalno-
ści Lingwistycznej Szkoły Wyższej w Warszawie.
Niniejszy projekt powstało jako recenzowany rocznik naukowy, który ma obejmo-
wać swym zakresem przekrój tematów związanych z językami i kulturami. Naszym
zamiarem jest stworzenie pisma interdyscyplinarnego, które obejmować będzie różne
aspekty lingwistyki, zarówno teoretycznej jak i stosowanej, literaturę, kulturoznawstwo,
jak niektóre aspekty badań historycznych. O czym przekonać się można już w niniej-
szym numerze, nasze pismo ma charakter bilingwalny, przyjmujemy do druku artykuły
w językach polskim i angielskim, w obu wypadkach opatrując je streszczeniami w obu
jezykach.
Pierwszy numer przynosi wybór artykułów zgodnych z powyższymi założenia-
mi. Numer otwiera artykuł pióra Krzysztofa Fordońskiego, zajmujący się twórczością
powieściopisarza E. M. Forstera, przedstawiając jego próby twórczości dramatycznej
w latach 1930-tych. Drugi artykuł zawiera lacanowskie odczytanie mało znanego opo-
wiadania, wspołczesnego Forsterowi, D. H. Lawrence’a, zaproponowane przez Matta
Foleya. Artykuł Stuarta O’Donnella odnosi się do epoki nieco wcześniejszej i omawia
pochodzące z XVI-XVIII wieku przykłady różnorodnych paratekstów zamieszczonych
w powieściach Nashe’a, Behn i Defoe. Czwarty artykuł, autorstwa Pawła Wojtasa, sku-
pia się na relacjach między językiem a płcią kulturową w średniowiecznym poemacie
Troilus and Criseyde Geoffreya Chaucera. Następnie, artykuł Pawła Hamery omawia
historiografi ę Wielkiego Głodu w Irlandii. Część dotyczącą aspektów językowych po
polsku otwiera artykuł Ebiety Zawadowskiej-Kittel, omawiający problemy zwzane
z egzaminami zewnętrznymi w polskim systemie edukacji. Niniejsze wydanie zamyka
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analiza porównawcza zagadnień kulturo- i realioznawczych w programach nauczania
języka polskiego i niemieckiego jako obcych autorstwa Przemysława Gębala.
Taka jest treść pierwszego numeru naszego pisma, ale to dopiero początek naszej
drogi. Niniejszy numer skupia się prawie wyłącznie na literaturze i historii Wysp Bry-
tyjskich. Nie jest to jednak w żadnym wypadku plan, którego zamierzamy się trzymać
w przyszłości. Chcielibyśmy gościć na naszych łamach artykuły poświęcone także innym
językom, literaturom i kulturom, w nadziei, że The Linguistic Academy Journal of Interdis-
ciplinary Language Studies (Rocznik Naukowy Lingwistycznej Szkoły Wyższej w Warsza-
wie) stanie się miejscem żywej wymiany myśli.
Jo Lewkowicz, Krzysztof Fordoński, Paweł Wojtas
Przedmowa edytorska
8
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Two Minor Dramatic Experiments.
Edward Morgan Forster and His Pageants
Krzysztof Fordoński
Lingwistyczna Szkoła Wyższa, Warsaw
ABSTRACT
The article concentrates on two short and little known dramatic texts (pageants) written
by E. M. Forster in the late 1930s entitled The Abinger Pageant and England’s Pleasant
Land. The introductory part introduces the history of pageant in the early 20th century.
The article presents briefl y Forster’s earlier, mostly unsuccessful, dramatic experiments,
analyses the two texts, their staging and the publishing history of the two playlets, as
well as their place in Forster’s further development as an artist as well as their place in
Forsterian criticism. Certain consideration is also given to their musical setting as well as
the author’s cooperation with the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.
KEY WORDS: Forster, pageant, dramatic, Williams
ABSTRAKT
Artykuł omawia dwie niewielkie teksty dramatyczne (tzw. pageant) napisane przez
E. M. Forstera w drugiej połowie lat 30. XX wieku The Abinger Pageant oraz England’s
Pleasant Land. W części wprowadzającej omówiona także została historia pageant (hi-
storycznego widowiska plenerowego typowego dla krajów anglosaskich) na początku
XX wieku. Artykuł omawia dalej zwięźle wcześniejsze, w większości niezbyt udane, eks-
perymenty dramatyczne pisarza, zawiera analizę obu tekstów, omawia historię wysta-
wień oraz publikacji obu tekstów, a także ich w pływ na dalszy roz wój twórczości Forstera,
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oraz ich miejsce w opracowaniach krytycznych. Omówiona została także współpraca pi-
sarza z autorem muzyki do obu spektakli Ralphem Vaughnem Williamsem.
SŁOWA KLUCZE: Forster, pageant, dramatyczny, Williams
Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970) is one of the most eminent English writers of the
20th century. His permanent place in the history of literature was ensured by his last
novel A Passage to India (1924) but also by his earlier works, such as A Room with a View
(19 08), Howards End (1910), and Maurice (1912/1970). Opera lovers remember Forster
as the co-author (with Eric Crozier) of the libretto for the opera Billy Budd by Benjamin
Britten, based on a short story by Herman Melville.
Forster’s oeuvre is not limited to fi ction. Before and during the Second World War he
gained remarkable popularity due to his essays and radio broadcasts in which he always
defended liberal and humanistic values. His essays were published in two volumes entitled
Abinger Harvest (1936 ) and Two Cheers for Democracy (1951). Forster wrote also numerous
essays dealing with the history and culture of the Mediterranean (e.g. those collected in the
volume Pharos an d Pharillon, 1923) and India (The Hill of Devi, 1953). He left also a sizeable
body of literary criticism of which the best known is Aspects of the Novel (1927).
Forster attempted to write for the stage several times in the early days of his career.
However, none of these early attempts was successful, few were ever completed, and none
staged. In 1907 he wrote an “extravaganza” (in this case meaning a one act play) The De-
ceased Wife’s Husband, a playful comment on a recent change in legislation (Furbank 1,
158) which, however minor, infl uenced the history of his family. In 1909 he started a his-
torical play about St Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) entitled simply St Bridget. Only the
rst act was ever completed (Furbank 178) which was also the case for quite a few other
works from the period (e.g. the unfi nished novel Arctic Summer) which the writer began
while trying to fi ght off writer’s block.
Two years later he completed a contemporary play The Heart of Bosnia but he never
attempted to get it staged or published (Furbank 199-201). A summary of the play pro-
vided by Philip N. Furbank is decidedly off-putting. It is a melodramatic and bloody tale
of unrequited love and Balkan revenge combined with a story of perfect male friendship
destroyed by a whim of a foolish girl. Forster’s posthumous papers include a few other
dramatic fragments of equally limited value.
Krzysztof Fordoński
10
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It was only in 1934 that Forster agreed to write for the stage in earnest at the re-
quest of his friends. This time, however, he opted for a more low-key, fairly fashionable
dramatic genre – the pageant. His play was intended for an amateur troupe from Abin-
ger, a small town in Sussex where Forster had lived with his mother for over a quarter
of a century. Profi ts from the performances were intended to support renovation of the
local parish church of St James dating from the 11th century.
In its original meaning of the term pageant was a form typical for English medi-
eval drama, close to mystery cycles. The very term originally defi ned rather the form
of performance than the type of drama. A pageant usually consisted of a number of short
scenes performed by actors who in a sort of a procession approached the audience in
sequence. In a later version the scenes were performed on platforms which were brought
to the main town square (or in front of the church) and after the performance they were
removed to make room for the next.
The name derived from Latin ‘pagina’ originally meant specifi cally such a moveable
stage made of a platform. It was only later used to denote the plays presented on such
a platform. Cuddon provides the following brief description: “the platform … was built
on wheels and consisted of two rooms: the lower was used as a dressing room, the upper
as a stage” (475). However, due to the scarcity of available materials it is impossible to say
whether the platforms did in fact always take such an elaborate form.
The cycles were most often presented as a part of Corpus Christi celebrations in the
late spring. Most often they depicted the history of the world understood as the history
of salvation from the Creation to the Last Judgment told according to the biblical tra-
dition. The literary content was usually minimal often bordering on non-existent. The
whole text could consist only of short quotations from the Bible. The performance was
expected to impress the audience with beautiful out ts of the actors, rich decorations
and props, as well as music.
Pageants disappeared in the 1530s as a result of the Reformation along with all
other forms of English religious drama. They were revived four centuries later by Louis
Napoleon Parker, “a playwright, part-time composer, and all-around impresario, who
launched the boom with his 1905 Sherbourne Pageant” ( Withington 2, 193) and over the
following decades they spread across Great Britain.1
1 They found enthusiastic following also on the other side of the Atlantic, see: David Glass-
berg, American Historical Pageantry: The Uses of Tradition in the Early Twentieth Century Chapel
Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1990.
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The Parkerian pageant-plays were generally staged over several days in open fi elds, near
monuments, and ruins, with large casts of amateur actors and squads of local writers,
composers, musicians, builders, painters, and seamstresses. In structure, the pageants
resembled chronicle plays , but the hero of the piece was a provincial town i nstead of a cel-
ebrated saint. Each pageant presented a series of historical episodes linked by prologues
and epilogues, narrative and dramatic choruses, musical interludes and long parades.
Despite – or probably more accurately, because of – the pageant-play’s particular com-
bination of rote patriotism, recycled literary materials, and often clumsy theatrical ama-
teurism, these productions became widely popular in Britain (Esty 248).
The choice of this particular dramatic form is easily comprehensible, as this “neotradi-
tional genre, the pageant-play referred almost inevitably to rural and antiquarian ideals
of Englishness [and it] was refi tted to serve as the genre of insular and interclass harmo-
ny (Esty 246). This was precisely what Forster intended to achieve through his pageants
– an idealized vision of interclass harmony in a perfect rural setting in which the former
was seen as a necessary condition of the preservation of the latter.
The Abinger Pageant, “a celebration of the Surrey village in which Forster lived most
of his life” (Summers 317) quite obviously follows rather the Parkerian than the medieval
pattern in its elaborate theatrical form. Nevertheless, the text retains certain similarities
with the medieval tradition. Although the actual performance was quite long, the whole
text consists of a mere thirteen pages (Forster 337-349) only a minute part of which is
spoken by characters (mainly the Woodman and often off stage) who consequently lack
any chance of developing any individual traits. Another part is a collection of traditional
songs, and a major part of the text consists of detailed stage directions and descriptions.
This structure resulted in a play “lacking in linguistic complexity and gurative depth
[which] represents an ideal of village craft rather than professional art” (Esty 257).
The play consists of six episodes which refl ect the more important moments from the
history of the parish which are largely represented in the form of tableaux vivants. The
rst episode presents Britons, Romans, Saxons, and Normans, ending in the Domesday
Survey. The fi rst scene of the second episode takes place during the reign of King John
the Lackland. The second scene takes place in 1220 and features twelve pilgrims from
Canterbury who have “deviated from the Pilgrims’ Way which runs across the north
of the parish” (Forster 340). The pilgrims are “types shown by Chaucer in his Canter-
bury Tales” which is an obvious anachronism as the Tales were written a hundred and
fty years later. They sing “Angelus ad Virginem”. This part seems put together from all
the most basic clichés of Merrie England.
Krzysztof Fordoński
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The third episode entitled “The Hammer Forge” takes the audience back to 1588, the
year of the Great Armada, although the subject matter is rather the local iron production
ourishing during the Elizabethan age. The fourth episode celebrates the local Evelyn
family, the owners of Abinger and Paddington, and the most famous of them John Eve-
lyn (1620-1706) the diarist and writer, author of the treatise Sylva or a Discourse of Forest
Trees (1664). In the book Evelyn induced people who were to replant the woods which
had been destroyed owing to the iron works (Forster 344). This episode also refl ects the
events of the War of Three Kingdoms, the Commonwealth, and the following Restora-
tion of the Stuart monarchy.
The fi fth episode “Smugglers and Other Gentry” which recalls events of the 1760s
is divided into two parts: the fi rst recalls the smuggling of alcohol from the conti-
nent, while the second a visit paid by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his mistress Therese
Levasseur watching some Morris and country dances. The fi nal episode refl ects on
the events of the 19th century and the pageant ends with the Epilogue spoken by the
Woodman after whose departure “the arena is again occupied by the fl ock of sheep”
(Forster 349).
An important element of both the medieval and the 20th century pageant was music
and in this respect The Abinger Pageant also sticks to the tradition. The score includes
several religious songs, psalms, and hymns, as well as folk songs and dances either com-
posed or adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams (Kennedy 241). For Vaughan Williams the
undertaking was of negligible importance, his participation, however, greatly helped in
its success. His biographer Michael Kennedy remarked that although similar perform-
ances were often sneered at by the more sophisticated audience it rather seldom hap-
pened that the text was written by E. M. Forster and the score composed by Vaughan
Williams (241).
Ursula Vaughan Williams claims that the composer arranged and composed several
pieces including a “melody he loved (and which he later used in First Nowell) ‘Angelus ad
Virginem’ and his own composition ‘O how amiable’ which he later published and dedi-
cated to Fanny Farrer” (202). The music was performed by the Band of the 2nd Battalion
West Yorkshire Regiment (Pr ince of Wales’ Ow n). The composer was very much involved
in the preparations for the performance as well as during the rehearsals of the orchestra
and intended to conduct it. Yet an accident he had early that summer forced him to hand
over the baton to the director and composer David Moule-Evans.
The whole show was produced by Tom Harrison who had been the originator of the
idea (Forster 442). The pageant was performed largely by local forces, mostly children,
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but also included a sizeable host of local animals such as cows,2 horses, sheep, and “posi-
tively the smallest pony in Britain” (The Times’ anonymous “Special Correspondent” as
quoted in Forster 442-443). It was performed twice on 14 and 18 July 1934.
The Abinger Pageant is only a little more than “an episodic celebration of English
rural life and a protest against the destruction of the greenwood” (Summers 327) in
which Forster adroitly adapted the pattern inherited from Parker to specifi c local cir-
cumstances. It shows Forster’s love for the local community in which he was to live until
1945, his interest in the local or as he would probably call it domestic history, and protec-
tion of nature, all issues which had played an important role in his writings previously.
Nevertheless, it is of a rather moderate literary merit. Consequently, although it was very
well received3 it has never been revived. It was, however, included as an addition in the
rst volume of Forster’s essays Abinger Harvest published in 1936.
Three years after the performance of The Abinger Pageant, in the autumn of 1937,
the writer and the composer got together once more in a similar undertaking. The title,
England’s Pleasant Land, echoes a line “England’s green and pleasant land” taken from
the poem “And did those feet in ancient time” (also known as “Jerusalem”) by William
Blake. The income from this pageant was to benefi t the Dorking and Leith Hill District
Preservation Society. The main subject was protection of the local rural landscape from
being converted by developers (Vaughan Williams 216).
The form chosen by Forster differs from that of his fi rst attempt at a pageant. It is
much more theatrical and much more modern at the same time. England’s Pleasant Land
includes twelve characters. It is typically modern, for example, in that as Forster states in
an untitled introduction to the 1940 edition: “the play is not about any particular person”
(neither is it about a particular place). Eleven of the characters are “types who are con-
nected in various ways with rural England”, each such “type” is played by the same actor
throughout the play. “Their costumes may alter, but their characters [do] not change”
(Forster 357). An element retained from the earlier pageant is the twelfth chorus-like
character, this time called the Recorder, who does not participate in the events but com-
ments on them and introduces consecutive acts and scenes.
2 A p rogra mme adver tisem ent reads “Get your milk f rom the cows that a re taking part i n the
pageant” (Forster 442).
3 „The pageant was well publicized in The Times. An article headed “Abinger Pageant/Local
History Revised” announced its content and form on 7 July, it was reviewed as “Pageant of Trees/
Village Players at Abinger” on Monday 16 July, and fi nally Forster himself wrote a short letter
published as “Pageant of Trees” on 18 July” (note by Elizabeth Heine in: Forster 442).
Krzysztof Fordoński
14
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The pageant consists of a Prologue which takes the audience back to 1066 A.D., the
days of the Norman Conquest, and the settling of the land completed with the Domesday
Book in 1086. The Prologue is followed by the First Act, entitled “The Enclosures”. Its
rst scene, “Squire George’s Dif culty – A.D. 1760” presents the owner of the village be-
ing convinced of the profi ts of enclosures which are put into effect in Scene II. Scene III
takes place some seventy years later when the effects of the enclosures are fully felt and
lead to the labourers’ revolt which ends in bloodshed.
The second act is entitled “The Death Duties”. Once more it is introduced by a short
speech of the Recorder who introduces us to the fi nal days of the reign of Queen Victoria.
Scene I shows a garden party in A.D. 1899 which is “a celebration of Domesday” (Forster
384). The party turns into a confrontation between the labourers and the Old Squire who
suddenly dies. The new Squire, Young George, plans to change the situation but his plans
come to naught when he is informed that he must pay the death duties (tax on inherit-
ance). The taxes force him to sell the property which as a result is “ripe for development”
as the fi nal song of the pageant announces (Forster 399). The pageant ends in an Epi-
logue spoken by the Recorder which is a plea for preservation of the country.
In its written form this pageant is much closer formally to a regular play with its abun-
dance of dialogues. The pageant elements, however, are still present: we have a number
of scenes and processions such as a procession of The Ghosts of the Past which ends
Scene I of Act II or a dancing vision of the “developed” countryside called in the text the
Pageant of Horrors which ends Scene II of the same act. The latter scene is also an ex-
ample of scenes the appeal of which combines the visual aspect with dance and songs
composed or selected by Vaughan Williams.
Vaughan Williams also took a different approach to his second pageant. As previ-
ously, a large part of the score consists of his arrangements of the works of Gustav Holst,
William Cole, Mary Couper, and others. Foremostly, however, Vaughan Williams used
the pageant as a fi ring ground for his Fifth Symphony; the audience was thus treated
to a preview to parts of the scherzo and the preludio. This time it was the composer
himself who conducted the Band of the 2nd Bn. The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
(Kennedy 257).4 The pageant was performed on 9, 14 and 16 July 1938 in Milton Court,
county Surrey.
4 Elizabeth Heine in her notes to Forster (443) claims, however, that the conductor was
A. Young. A probable solution to this riddle is that the pageant was performed thrice within
a week; it might have been conducted by two different conductors on different dates.
Two Minor Dramatic Experiments. Ed ward Morgan Forster and His Pageant s 15
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Critics such as Summers see little difference between the two pageants: “like The
Abinger Pageant England’s Pleasant Land celebrates rural England and pleads for con-
servation” (354) but this opinion is true only in a very general sense. The handling of the
subject matter varies greatly. In England’s Pleasant Land
we fi nd no romantic nostalgia, only a biting indignation against the Enclosures and later
the Developers, the latter destroying the beauty which, ironically, the former had cre-
ated. But the play no more confronts the paradox than does Howards End. Lamentation
and anger never quite fuse in Forster’s work (Cavaliero 178).
England’s Pleasant Land marks for Forster a step towards a more general and abstract
presentation of the problems which rural England faced in the early decades of the 20th
century.
It is very diffi cult to speak about the reactions of the audience for whom the text
could have been a relatively minor part of the whole pageant machinery. It is quite pos-
sible that actually it is a script “which plays better than it reads” (Forster 354) yet both
Forster’s pageants
when read as literar y texts, they offer a rather weak sy nthesis of the ideological and libid-
inal elements that come alive in Forster’s fi ction. As participator y village rituals, though,
they have the appeal of a communal and spontaneous representation of an entire, cher-
ished way of life (Esty 257).
The fi nal effect of England’s Pleasant Land is rather fl at and uninspiring for two rea-
sons. The fi rst is the choice of “types” over individual characters. This is in line with the
pageant tradition both medieval and Edwardian, and Forster makes the best of these
limitations using them as a medium for comic relief e.g. in the dialogues of two female
guests opening the fi rst scenes of both acts similar and dissimilar at the same time, re-
ecting current attitudes to the countryside, or the speeches of Bumble who represents
a different view in every scene yet he is fully convinced that he never budges and always
stands on the side of the law. However, these theatrical devices stressed by the already
mentioned fact that each of the “types” is played by the same actor in every scene, make
it impossible to give the characters any psychological depth. The “types” moving within
a very loosely depicted reality of “the English countryside” leave the reader rather indif-
ferent to the problem they represent.
Krzysztof Fordoński
16
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The other reason is the very issue which the pageant attempts to tackle. Throughout
the play Forster quite cunningly avoids contemplating the other side of the development
problem. He concentrates on the country and its inhabitants while the city is initially
presented as populated by people too shallow to understand the value of the country and
nally as the source of “Horrors of the Present” which invade and destroy it. There is
no easy solution to the city-country confl ict but from the pageant it seems that Forster’s
sympathy is exclusive for the countrymen and the countryside while he is oblivious to the
horrors of living in an overcrowded city. In effect he submerges the confl ict instead of try-
ing to solve it, the resulting vision sadly lacks the irony with which representation of the
same confl ict was presented in his earlier novels such as Howards End.
Forster was apparently quite aware of the shortcomings of his second pageant as he
never included it in any of his collections. It was published only once in 1940 by Hogarth
Press as a separate pamphlet and reprinted over half a century later in the 10th volume
of the Abinger Edition of the Works of E. M. Forster in 1996. Just as The Abinger Pageant
it has never been revived.
Forster was not the only modern writer who was attracted by the pseudo-medieval
form of the pageant. In 1934, the same year when The Abinger Pageant was staged,
T. S. Eliot wrote and staged a pageant entitled The Rock, at the suggestion of the bish-
op of Chichester, George Bell, and for charitable purposes on behalf of the Forty-Five
Churches Fund. For Eliot the experience proved creative enough to make the poet turn
towards a completely new career of a playwright, which was to last twenty years.
For Forster the two pageants were apparently merely temporary diversions under-
taken for a good cause, excursions into a new literary sphere, from which he returned
little moved to his essays, reviews, and radio talks which he continued to write for an-
other thirty years. The pageants gave him, however, valuable experience fi rstly of writing
for a real stage and preparing his own texts for performance through rehearsals, and
secondly of cooperation with the fi rst rate composer, Vaughan Williams. The experi-
ence proved priceless when he returned to writing for the stage in the late 1940s, invited
by Benjamin Britten to write the libretto for a new opera commissioned for the Festival
of Britain. The result of their cooperation was Billy Budd, the only truly successful and
lasting dramatic work of E. M. Forster.
Two Minor Dramatic Experiments. Ed ward Morgan Forster and His Pageant s 17
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Works cited
Cavaliero, Glen. A Reading of E. M. Forster. London and Basingstoke: The Macmillan
Press Ltd., 1979.
Cuddon, J.A. A Dictionary of Literary Terms. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1982.
Esty, Joshua D. “Amnesia in the Fields: Late Modernism, Late Imperialism, and the Eng-
lish Pageant-Play.ELH, Vol. 69, No. 1 (Spring), (2002): 245-276.
Forster, Edward Morgan. Abinger Harvest and England’s Pleasant Land. London: Andre
Deutsch, 1996.
Furbank, Philip Nicholas. E. M. Forster: A Life. San Diego New York London: Harcourt
Brace & Company, 1981.
Kennedy, Michael. The Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams. London: Oxford University
Press, 1964.
Summers, Claude J. E. M. Forster. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1983.
Vaughan Williams, Ursula. R.V.W. A Biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams. London: Ox-
ford University Press, 1964.
Withington, Robert. English Pageantry: An Historical Outline. New York: Benjamin
Bloom, 1963.
Krzysztof Fordoński
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Living with Lawrence’s silent ghosts:
a Lacanian reading of “Glad Ghosts”
Matt Foley
University of Stirling
ABSTRACT
Living with Lawrence’s silent ghosts: a Lacanian reading of “Glad Ghostsseeks to con-
tribute to the growing scholarly fi eld of Gothic modernisms by reading D.H. Lawrence’s
long and underappreciated ghost story “Glad Ghosts” (written 1925) through a distinct-
ly theoretical lens. This theoretical framework will call upon Jacques Derrida’s notion
of the “specter”, as put forward in his Specters of Marx, Nicolas Abraham and Maria
Torok’s psychoanalytical “phantom”, and Jacques Lacan’s theory of the barred subject
(S) and their relationship to jouissance. The haunting fi gured in “Glad Ghosts” cannot
be properly elucidated by exploring how it dramatizes the tensions between Derridean
spectrality and Abraham and Torok’s “phantom”, which has become a standard theo-
retical approach in the wider fi eld of haunting studies. Indeed, these positions must be
supplemented by an understanding of how they work for and against some of the fun-
damental concepts of Lacanian psychoanalysis in order to fully gauge what is at stake
in Lawrence’s distinctive appropriation of the ghostly. The article’s main contention is
that Lawrence’s staging of haunting, which emphasises the role of the silent ghost, is
symptomatic of the Lacanian barred subject’s attempt to experience different registers
of jouissance.
KEYWORDS: D.H. Lawrence, haunting, Lacan, jouissance, Gothic
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ABSTRAKT
Poniższy artykuł: Living with Lawrence’s silent ghosts: a Lacanian reading of “Glad Ghosts”
ma na celu wzbogacenie prężnej dziedziny naukowej modernizmu gotyckiego poprzez
analizę długiego i niedocenionego opowiadania D. H. Lawrence’a pt. “Glad Ghosts”
(napisanym w 1925 r.) poprzez pryzmat czysto teoretyczny. Ów szkic teoretyczny pop-
arty jest pojęciem “specter” (widmo) przywołanym przez Jacquesa Derridę w Specters
of Marx, psychoanalitycznym pojęciem Nicolasa Abraham and Marii Torok „phantom”
(fantom), a także teorią zabronionego podmiotu (the barred subject S) Jacquesa Laca-
na i ich związkom z konceptem jouissance. Nawiedzenie ukazane w “Glad Ghosts” nie
może być dostatecznie wyjaśnione poprzez wskazywanie napięć pomiędzy ‘spectrality’
Derridy a ‘phantom’ Abrahama i Torok, co stało się standardowym podejściem teore-
tycznym w dziedzinie studiów gotyckich. Podobne stanowiska muszą być uzupełnione
wyjaśnieniem w jaki sposób działają zarówno przeciw jak i w oparciu o fundamentalne
założenia psychoanalizy Lacana, aby móc w pełni ocenić co jest na rzeczy w szczególnym
zastosowaniu fantomatyczności przez Lawrence’a. Artykuł ma na celu twierdzenie, iż
przedstawianie straszenia u Lawrence’a, które uwydatnia rolę cichego ducha, jest cha-
rakterystyczne próbie doświadczenia różnych rejestrów jouissance lacanowskiego zabro-
nionego podmiotu.
SŁOWA KLUCZE: D.H. Lawrence, nawiedzanie, Lacan, jouissance, Gotyk.
In The Routledge Companion to the Gothic Catherine Spooner notes that the curious in-
tersections between the literary modes of the Gothic and modernism have been gather-
ing more and more scholarly attention (38). The essay collections Gothic Modernisms
(Smith & Wallace) and Gothic and Modernism (Riquelme) remain the key academic texts
covering the area; however, the fi eld suggests such a wide scope for consideration that
many avenues remain to be explored. This article seeks to contribute to this widening
scholarly area by reading one of D.H. Lawrence’s later ghost stories – “Glad Ghosts”
– through a distinctly theoretical lens. This theoretical framework will rely upon a tri-
partite approach by calling upon Derrida’s notion of the ‘specter, Abraham and Torok’s
psychoanalytical ‘phantom’, and the relationship between Lacan’s barred subject (S) and
their experience of jouissance, in order to elucidate Lawrence’s distinctive appropriation
of the ghostly. Recent studies of literary haunting have considered how the tensions be-
Matt Foley
20
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tween a Derridean speaking to the ghost and Abraham and Torok’s psychoanalytical
project to exorcise the transgenerational ‘phantom’ can explain the persistence of the
ghostly in a range of literary works, from neo-Victorian meta-fi ction (Arias and Pulham)
to the Gothic (Berthin). However, in order to understand what is at stake in Lawrences
appropriation of the master trope of haunting, the two seemingly opposed theoretical
standpoints of Derrida and Abraham and Torok need to be further supplemented by
a consideration of how they work with and against some of the fundamental categories
of Lacanian psychoanalysis. The argument that emerges is that Lawrence’s staging of the
ghostly in these stories, with its emphasis on a silent haunting that resists symbolisation,
is symptomatic of the Lacanian barred subject’s attempt to experience different registers
of jouissance.
In Lacan’s (“The Four Fundamental”) work the term ‘jouissance’ has connotations
of pleasure, sexual enjoyment (in French ‘jouir’ is slang for ‘to come’) and pain (281).
The fi nal connotation of pain relates to an experience of jouissance as being enjoyable
only up to a point, after which there is too much: a traumatic overload of jouissance oc-
curs in which the subject experiences an excruciating dissonance (in his reading of La-
can, Slavoj Zizek emphasises this traumatic character, 79). The barred subject (S) can-
not therefore be exposed to pure jouissance as he or she is separated, in the very act
of joining the symbolic order, by a bar that separates them qua barred subjects from
this overwhelming exposure to the Real. What is crucial, is that in his later work, most
notably in Seminar XX, Lacan begins to suggest that there is jouissance of being, an in-
nate enjoyment that the body of the barred subject experiences that is essentially asexual
(“On Feminine Sexuality” 6-7) and is an enjoyment of being itself. This possible enjoy-
ment is one type of jouissance that will be considered here. Also, in terms of a more
emphatically sexual enjoyment, Lawrence’s text emphasises another form of Lacanian
jouissance. This is a darker, more erotic jouissance that the subject knows nothing about,
that comes upon the subject from the fi eld of the Other, and is supplementary to phallic
jouissance (for Lacan this is Woman’s jouissance, see On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits
of Love and Knowledge 1972-1973, 73-77). The ghostly emerges in ‘Glad Ghosts’ when
the barred subject pushes the limits of bearable jouissance by an encounter with a spec-
tral Other and where, as in the case of Lucy Hale’s return as a poltergeist, the dead come
to collect a debt of jouissance and to reclaim an enjoyment that was kept from them when
they were living. These are the terms of the reading that will ultimately follow but fi rst
some background work is necessary to shed light on both the origin of “Glad Ghosts” and
the current theoretical climate in haunting studies.
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Lawrence composed “Glad Ghosts” in late 1925 in response to a request from his
long time correspondent and friend Lady C ynthia Asquith who was seeking contributions
for her fi rst collection of tales of terror The Ghost Book (1926). Lawrence penned ‘Glad
Ghosts’ as an initial submission for the collection only for it to be rejected by Asquith on
the grounds of it being too lengthy, although some critics suggest that Asquith was put
off the story by the uncanny resemblance she bears to the female lead, Carlotta Fell (for
a fuller discussion see Ellis 274-77). Lawrence was, in turn, compelled to write another
story – “The Rocking Horse Winner” – as an alternative submission for The Ghost Book
and it was duly accepted by Asquith. This shorter, more psychologically intense story has
become the better known of the two works (partly due to a 1949 fi lm adaptation by An-
thony Pelissier) though Lawrence, in a letter to his agent Nancy Pearn, describes it only
as “spectral enough” (Boulton and Vasey 400) and it is clearly not a ghost story in the
traditional sense. While “Glad Ghost”’ works through several familiar registers of haunt-
ing (such as incomplete mourning, spiritualism, and the return of the dead to collect
a debt), “The Rocking Horse Winner” suggests a more deeply psychological range with
its young protagonist Paul demonstrating symptoms of child psychosis. However, it is
“Glad Ghosts”’ emphasis on a silent haunting, and its handling of different registers
of jouissance, that will be of interest here.
As mentioned above, theoretical work in recent scholarly studies of haunting has
been dominated by readings that predominantly call upon either Derrida’s formulation
of the ‘specter’ or Abraham and Torok’s identifi cation of the ‘phantom’. Considering the
former fi rst, Derrida is consistently concerned with the ‘specter’ as an agent of ethics. In
Specters of Marx, he posits that
it is necessar y to sp eak of the ghost, and indeed to the ghost and with it, from the moment
that no ethics, no politics, whether revolutionary or not, seems possible and thinkable
and just that does not recognize in its principles the respect for those others who are no
longer or for those other who are not yet there, presently living, whether they are already
dead or not yet born. (xix)
This emphasis on speaking to the ghost at a time of ontological crisis as a prerequisite to
justice is a foundational tenet of Derrida’s larger theoretical project, put forward in his
later work, which promotes a continual mourning in the form of a melancholia that is
both life-affi rming and ethical. In his fi nal interview, as the last survivor of his generation
of French post-structuralist theorists, Derrida stresses that his discourse of survival “is
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life beyond life, life more than life and… not a discourse of death…. Survival is not simply
that which remains but the most intense life possible. I am never more haunted by the
necessity of dying than in moments of happiness and joy” (“Learning” 52). Haunting for
Derrida is therefore not the horror ridden and clichéd affair that is played upon in popular
culture but, instead, is the necessary zero point of building a hauntological ethics of liv-
ing. In particular, in Specters of Marx, there is a consideration of the ghost as an ethical
harbinger, as a messiah without a messianism, one that can provide a powerful injunction
to “make new” ontology and form a larger Derridean “hauntology” that resists relying
upon some of the traditional notions of a metaphysics of presence but also encompasses
them (“Specters” 10). It is the spectre’s role as a distorting force upon linear temporality,
along with how it destabilises the supposed binary oppositions of presence and absence,
dead and alive, being and non-being (“Specters” 11) that is also conceptually cognate
with Derrida’s wider deconstructive project. Crucially, the ghost for Derrida is armed
with a spectral voice capable of providing an injunction that any subject following the
programme of hauntology is actively obliged to work for or with. The radical Otherness
of the spectre gives its spoken injunction the status of a formidable imperative.
In the psychoanalytical work of Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, however, a very
different ghost is reckoned with and their mission as analysts is to exorcise it from the
analysand’s unconscious. Their ‘phantom’ is essentially a liar, a transgenerational form
of haunting that protects family secrets and that occurs in the analysand’s unconscious,
not because of failed mourning, but due to an uncanny knowledge gap in a love object,
usually a parent. This ‘secret’ has been concealed by the parent, or even by generations
of a family, due to an original shame, and yet it has been transmitted, unconsciously, to
subsequent generations. The phantom “works like a ventriloquist, like a stranger within
the subject’s own mental topography” (173). Colin Davis has argued that in Abraham and
Torok’s account, “the ghost imposes a command of ignorance, which is an injunction not
to know, not to seek to reveal, and to hide from others, the secret of the encrypted other
…. [While], in Derrida’s version the secret precedes any distinction between ignorance
and knowledge, and the injunction requires unconditional belief and obedience. By turn-
ing the ghost into a fi gure of the absolute Other, Derrida effectively sidesteps the issue
of the truth or falsehood of what it has to say” (83-84).
Thus, what Derrida puts forward is a spectre of ethics whose address is also some-
how pre-ethical: an injunction that demands obedience by its nature as radically Oth-
er. Whereas, contrary to this unconditional welcoming of the ghost, Abraham and
Torok’s psychoanalytical programme aims to exorcise the ghost and expose the secret
Living w ith Lawrence’s silent ghosts: a Lacanian reading of “Glad Ghost s” 23
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it withholds. However, “Glad Ghosts’” double emphasis on a haunting of silence and
registers of jouissance renders Lawrence’s appropriation of the ghostly in a way that,
while recalling some of their tenets, is ultimately distinct from either of these theoretical
lenses. These theories should not be disregarded, as they will be referred to throughout,
particularly Derrida, but ultimately it is necessary here to read “Glad Ghosts” through
a predominantly Lacanian theoretical lens in order to understand properly the role of the
ghostly in the text.
The story is narrated from the perspective of Morier, an isolated, wandering ex-art
student who recounts his close friendship with Carlotta Fell who he fi rst met at art school
before the outbreak of World War One. Carlotta not only impressed at art school but
“she was also a beauty too. Her family was not rich, yet she had come into fi ve hundred
a year of her own, when she was just eighteen” (“Glad Ghosts” 615). Her family, if not
rich, is aristocratic, of the old guard, and fulfi lling her wish to “marry into her own sur-
roundings” (ibid 616), she weds an offi cer in the Guards’ regiment called Lord Lathkill.
Morier does not dislike Lathkill but feels him “already a ghost” (ibid 618), while Lathkill
himself fears that his family is cursed by infamous bad luck. This is proved to be horrifi -
cally accurate as Carlotta and Lathkill lose all three of their children – their young twin
boys in a tragic car accident and their even younger daughter to a sudden illness. After
these tragic events, and following a hiatus in their communication, Morier decides to
meet Carlotta and visit her and Lathkill at Lathkill’s mother’s family home in Derbyshire.
Lady Lathkill is an imposing fi gure and a spiritualist engaged in a frustrating commu-
nication with a spirit named Lucy who is the deceased wife of an ageing Colonel staying
in the home. Colonel Hale has remarried but he laments, “I daren’t offend Lucy’s spirit.
If I do, I suffer tortures till I’ve made my peace again, till she folds me in her arms. Then
I can live. But she won’t let me go near the present Mrs. Hale. I – I – I daren’t go near her”
(ibid 632). Thus, initially, Lucy’s haunting is read as a barrier inhibiting the Colonel’s
enjoyment.
The narrative climax of ‘Glad Ghosts’ soon follows when the younger generation in
the house overcome their previous morbidity, begin to dance, and crucially include the
Colonel. Lucy’s spirit quickly presents itself in an attempt to counter Hale’s newly found
enjoyment as “from somewhere came two slow thuds, and a sound of drapery moving”
(ibid 637). In spite of Lady Lathkill’s interpretation of this movement and noises as the
imperative “we must leave this room” (ibid) a sensational shift takes place in terms
of narrative control in which her son Lathkill wrestles charge of the party and directly
disputes his mother’s orders. He urges the Colonel to keep dancing but the Colonel, awe-
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struck with terror, following another ominous crash from the poltergeist, is driven from
the room by the ghostly presence. In turn, it seems as if not listening to the injunction
of the ghost, in other words disrupting the Derridean insistence upon speaking to and
with the ghost, results in an unbearable haunting of terror. However, in spite of this mo-
mentary fall out, Lathkill constructs a new reading of Lucy’s poltergeist activity and per-
suades the Colonel into a realisation that he is being haunted by Lucy because together
they were, like Lathkill is now, “the ghost of disembodiment” (ibid 645). This explana-
tion allows the Colonel to make peace with Lucys spirit. Subsequently, as if to affi rm the
rights of the body, he gestures the act of taking her into his breast, in a way that rereads
psychoanalytical introjection as a corporeal act.
In order to understand Lawrence’s insistence upon the body as this vehicle of love it
is necessary to turn to his theory of psychology. In Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious
Lawrence dramatically rereads psychoanalysis so as to furnish the term “unconscious”
with his own idiosyncratic signifi cations. He maps out a radical physio-psychology by
positing that the seat of the unconscious is not situated in a foreclosed region of the mind
but in the human chest.
There are now two planes of primary consciousness – the fi rst, the lower, the subjective
unconscious, active beneath the diaphragm, and the second upper, object plane, active
above the diaphragm, in the breast. Let us realize that the subjective and the objective
of the unconscious are not the same as the subjective and the objective of the mind. Here
we have no concepts to deal with, no static objects in the shape of ideas… We are on
straightforward solid ground, there is not abstraction (27).
Lawrence’s “philosophy” of psychology is idiosyncratic to say the least and it is beyond
the scope of this article to interrogate its main tenets fully. However, what is crucial for
current considerations is that “the subjective and the objective of the unconscious are not
the same as the subjective and the objective of the mind.” In turn, there is an emphasis
on the body as having its own instinctual plains of experiencing, particularly “the dia-
phragm” and “the breast”, which contain elements of what Lawrence calls “primary con-
sciousness”. The action of Hale taking the spirit of Lucy into his chest in “Glad Ghosts”,
read from this perspective, is therefore a reworking of psychoanalytical introjection to
t the tenets of Lawrence’s own theory. Instead of the ego using language as a means to
introject and consume loss and exorcise the ghosts of mourning, as is the case in classic
psychoanalytical modes of mourning, the ghost is exorcised in this case by a signifying
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practice grounded in the body that resists “abstraction”. Hale comes to grips, to put it in
Lacanian terms, with his own jouissance of being and the act of pulling Lucy into his body
constitutes an end to the mourning process through a shift in register from the symbolic
to the Real.
In some senses this recalls Lacan’s later works in which he posits that the ideal posi-
tion for the analysand to be in on completion of analysis is for his jouissance to accom-
pany and supplement the symbolic. As Veronique Veroz puts it, “Truth is to be half-spo-
ken, mi-dite, a combination of being qua jouissance – a letter – and being qua meaning
– a signifi er: the symptom as semantic part of the Real, or as real part of the Symbolic…
(131). Veroz’s emphasis on the “letter” here recalls Lacan’s theory of the letter as the
closest representative of the Real; his most prominent example of this being the objet a.
However, Lawrence’s staging of this coming to terms with the ghost, while conceptu-
ally cognate with late Lacanian psychoanalysis, does not suggest a complete exorcism
of Lucy in the traditional sense of Freud’s normative mourning or Abraham and Torok’s
work on the phantom. Instead there is a living with ghosts that recalls the Derridean
position on the spectre and yet this does not fulfi l the programme Derrida puts forward
in Specters of Marx fully either. Hale indeed speaks to the ghost of Lucy, through Lathkill
as a kind of analytical interpreter, but this speaking to the ghost is not sustainable and
reaches a limit at which point there is a shift in register from the symbolic, which has
been feeding an imaginary fantasy, to the Real. Hale learns to carry Lucy in his breast
and live with the ghost qua jouissance of being rather than engaging in the continual,
symbolic and hauntological speaking to the ghost.
Therefore, while on one hand Lawrence’s coming to terms with jouissance works to
realign failed mourning, there is also the inverted sense that only speaking to the ghost,
in a misguided way that forecloses the body, leads to the deadlock of a disembodied
melancholia. This recalls Lacan’s essential formulation that “what [does] not come to
light in the symbolic, appears in the real” (“Écrits” 324) and the Real “expects noth-
ing from speech” (ibid). In particular, speaking to the ghost qua spiritualism is fi gured
in the story as a dangerously symbolic practice that feeds an imaginary fantasy at odds
with an objective critique or reading of the ghost’s desire. As a spiritualist, Lady Lathkill
works to enforce her own totalitarian desire over the household while prolonging the
failed mourning of others. However, there is a pivotal moment that occurs to promote
a movement beyond this melancholic deadlock to the rediscovery of jouissance: Lathkill
usurping of his mother’s power that restricts and stifl es the desire of others. Lathkill
insists upon the rights of the fl esh over a spiritualist mode that restricts and stagnates
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desire. After seizing control of the party he rejoices that “the Colonel is happy now the
forlorn ghost of Lucy is comforted in his heart. Lathkill now reads that Lucy haunts
because, in life, it was the Colonel’s “body which had not been good to her” (ibid 647). It
is Lathkill’s reading of the ghost as collecting a debt of jouissance that promotes an end
to the haunting and allows Colonel Hale to live on with Lucy introjected into his body.
In turn, Mrs Lathkill qua spiritualist in “Glad Ghosts” performs a role that embodies
Paul de Man’s understanding of prosopopoeia – attributing a fi ctive voice to the dead
that is really a manifestation of the desire of the conduit for this voice, the person who is
listening to this supposed voice (for a discussion of reading prosopopoeia in this way see
Davis, 112-114). Lathkill, on the other hand, builds a dialogue with Lucy that reads her
supposed symbolic debt, her raison d’être for haunting, in a more sophisticated manner
that in fact reinterprets the debt not as symbolic but as a debt of jouissance.
Lathkill’s working through of Hale’s mourning is not a completely selfl ess one. He
is compelled to help Hale as he identifi es with his predicament: both Lathkill and his
wife Carlotta have been caught in a melancholic deadlock, reminiscent of Hale’s, since
the deaths of their children. They too have been haunted in recent years by a silent ghost
of the quotidian: not the ghost of Lucy but another spectral fi gure that resists naming.
However, their failed mourning is also realigned by Lathkill’s newly found, manic impe-
tus as he tries to constitute himself once more as a desiring subject. He begins to realign
his own mourning with a moment of symbolic suicide. This moment of symbolic suicide
qua erasure of subjectivity is interlinked with a return to the mother. Lathkill therefore
not only rediscovers his desire but in this movement he returns to the mother seemingly
aunting the incest taboo. In a frenzy he suggests to his mother that
…a man has to be in love in his things, the way you ride a horse. Why don’t we stay in
love that way all our lives? Why do we turn into corpses with consciousness? Oh, mother
of my body, thank you for my body, you strange woman with white hair! I don’t know
much about you, but my body came from you, so thank you, my dear. I shall think of you
tonight! (ibid 648).
Here the mother is constituted as a conscious sexual object and yet her primary function
remains maternal with Lathkill’s assertion fi rst that “my body came from you” and this
recalls Lacan’s situating of Woman as primarily maternal but also as the object cause
of Man’s desire (“On Feminine Sexuality 7). The mother is returned only to then be
abjected but this reciprocal motion seems to transform Lathkill from a “corpse with
Living w ith Lawrence’s silent ghosts: a Lacanian reading of “Glad Ghost s” 27
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consciousness” into a vital, desiring subject. The fi nal, strange promise of the passage,
where Lathkill cries that he will think of his mother tonight, places the remainder of the
story in the thematic realm of the sexual and the prohibited. It is in this space that the
Lathkills’ ghost of the quotidian haunts. Indeed, in spite of the cessation of Lucy’s haunt-
ing, this other ghost remains to haunt the Lathkill’s home and Carlotta and Lathkill con-
sistently suggest that it will be drawn to Morier: It is implied that the ghost will visit
Morier one late evening with sexual purpose.
Lathkill urges Morier to welcome this ghost of the quotidian if it should visit his room
during the night, after the fi re in his room has been extinguished, suggesting that the
ghost can somehow replace the warmth of the fi re by satiating sexual desire. However,
what is crucial is the emphasis upon the ghost as silent:
There, your fi re has died down. But it’s a nice room! I hope our ghost will come to you.
I think she will. Don’t speak to her. It makes her go away. She, too, is a ghost of si-
lence. We talk far too much. But now I am going to be silent too, and a ghost of silence
(ibid 648-49).
This is an invitation to relate to the ghost as neither a psychoanalytical ‘phantom’ nor
a Derridean spectre: there is neither an exorcism of the ghost as symptom nor a speaking
to the ghost. However, by reading it through the lens of Lacanian psychoanalysis, what
is at stake can be understood more clearly. By having the ghost remain silent Lawrence
suggests a primal communication with the spectral through the fl esh, something that
perhaps pre-dates language, and is furthermore suggestive of a primacy of communica-
tion that is neither ethical nor fully accessible to the barred subject. We are perhaps here
dealing with a communication from the objective and subjective consciousnesses that
Lawrence outlines in Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious. Once more, this ghost is in-
terlinked with the barred subject’s experience of jouissance, specifi cally where the “bar”
that prohibits the subject from experiencing the impossible pain of jouissance is subject
to slippage.
This sense of the encounter with the ghost as a return to a state before the constitu-
tion of the barred subject is highlighted in Morier’s account of the ghostly encounter
itself. There is at work an intermingling of fantasy and maternal womb imagery:
I must have gone far, far down the intricate galleries of sleep, to the very heart of the
world. For I now know I passed on beyond the strata of images and words, beyond the
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iron veins of memory, and even the jewel of rest, to sink in the fi nal dark like a fi sh, dumb,
soundless, and imageless, yet alive and swimming.
And at the very core of the deep night the ghost came to me, at the heart of the ocean
of oblivion, which is also the heart of life. Beyond he aring, or even knowledge of contact,
I met her and knew her. How I know it I don’t know. Yet I know it with eyeless, wingless
knowledge. (ibid.649)
In reading this descent into a womb-like space of consciousness which is “beyond the
strata of images and words” and which signifi es “a fi nal dark” and yet allows Morier
to feel “alive and swimming” there is something unfathomable here – clear even in his
later uncertainty of whether the presence is a ghost, a vision, or a woman – and Mori-
er has the feeling of knowing but not knowing – what Nicolas Abraham calls a “nesci-
ence” (“The Intermission” 188). One explanation for this dark experience of jouissance
is that Morier’s object of desire is foreclosed in the symbolic order as taboo. The ghost
is the distorted fi gure of the illegitimate desire for the mother, something foregrounded
in Lathkill’s earlier strange speech of rebellion to his mother which culminates in the
perverse, “I shall think of you tonight!” So, this privileging of the body and the instinc-
tual over phantasmatic love carries with it a prohibited and veiled return to the original
maternal object of desire; this can only be recalled as a spectre, as something not fully
there, and so not engendering a lethal threat to the adult subject. It allows the subject to
irt with bar that separates it from impossible and painful jouissance and, in turn, leads
to a sexual experience that is both intense and unknowable. In Lacanian terms, this the
jouissance of the Other S(A).
“Glad Ghosts” therefore follows a tripartite approach to dealing with haunting so
as to realign failed mourning. Firstly, Mrs. Lathkill is the channeller who “speaks to the
ghost” on the pretence of having the privileged power of the spiritualist. Such a power is
conceived of as being a supernatural ability to communicate with the dead but in a private
discourse that the living cannot hear. In turn, Lady Lathkill is conversing with a personal
other and misreads Lucy’s proclamations, qua poltergeist activity, that are articulations
of the debt of jouissance that she has come to collect. Mrs. Lathkill employs, albeit with
Hale’s initial complicity, an impersonal Derridean speaking to the ghost in what should
be a personal haunting for Colonel Hale. Her son, however, when he seizes the role of in-
terpreter, and here we move onto psychoanalytical ground, interprets the symptom in
a more complex way and constructs a case history, albeit a brief one, that is primarily
focused upon experiences of jouissance. The second stage in Lawrence’s “living with the
Living w ith Lawrence’s silent ghosts: a Lacanian reading of “Glad Ghost s” 29
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ghost” therefore presents itself in Lathkill’s more complex reading of the ghost’s desires
and how this relates to unfulfi lled demands that were known but unknowns, nesciences
of sorts, in the Hales’ marriage. Lucy does not actively mislead, as Abraham and Torok’s
‘phantom’ may do, and she even retains the Derridean status of the ghost to be lived with
in a haunting that affi rms life in the present, although speaking to the ghost in the sym-
bolic does reach a limit for Lawrence. In turn, a living with a ‘silent’ ghost is put forward
in the third stage of haunting fi gured in the story – the living with the Lathkills’ persist-
ent ghost of the quotidian. This is the ghost of jouissance par excellence: it extends the
bearable jouissance of the barred subject by veiling and yet representing the prohibited
maternal object of desire. This experience of jouissance is so radical that it cannot be
properly recalled, the barred subject knows nothing about its origin, and it is the ghost’s
status as a being radically outside of any traditional ontological understanding that al-
lows it to stand in for this tabooed return of prohibited desire. Thus, “Glad Ghosts” il-
lustrates that the ghostly manifests itself, either darkly from the fi eld of the Other or due
to unsuccessful mourning, as a symptom of the barred subject’s experience of different
registers of Lacanian jouissance.
Works Cited
Abraham, Nicolas. ‘Notes on the Phantom: A Complement to Freud’s Metapsychology.
Abraham, Nicolas and Maria Torok. The Shell and The Kernel: volume 1. Ed. Nicholas
Rand 1994. Chicago. University Press, 1994. 171-176.
–-. ‘‘The Intermission of “Truth”’. Abraham, Nicolas and Maria Torok. The Shell and The
Kernel: volume 1. Ed. Nicholas Rand 1994. Chicago. University Press, 1994, 187-190.
Arias, Rosario and Patricia Pulham. Haunting and Spectrality in Neo-Victorian Fiction.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Berthin, Christine. Gothic Hauntings: Melancholy Crypts and Textual Ghosts. London:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Boulton, James and Lindeth Vasey. The Letters of D.H. Lawrence: Volume V, March 1924
– March 1927. Cambridge: University Press, 1989.
Davis, Colin. Haunted Subjects: Deconstruction, Psychoanalysis and the Return of the
Dead. Palgrave MacMillan: Basingstoke, 2007.
Derrida, Jacques. Specters of Marx: The State of Debt, the Work of Mourning, & the New
International. London: Routledge, 1994.
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–-. Learning to Live Finally: The Last Interview. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
Ellis, David. D.H. Lawrence: Dying Game 1922-1930. Cambridge: University Press,
1998.
Lacan, Jacques. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. London: Penguin,
1979.
–-. On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge 1972-1973. New York:
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1999.
–-. Écrits. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2007.
Lawrence, D. H. ‘Glad Ghosts’. The Collected Short Stories of D.H. Lawrence. London:
Book Club Associates, 1975. 615-651.
–-. Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious. Cambridge:
University Press, 2004.
Riquelme, John Paul. Gothic and Modernism: Essaying Dark Literary Modernity. Balti-
more: The John Hopkins University Press, 2008.
Smith, Andrew and Jeff Wallace. Gothic Modernisms. London: Palgrave Publishers Ltd,
2001.
Spooner, Catherine and Emma McEvoy. The Routledge Companion to Gothic. London:
Routledge, 2007.
Voruz, Veronique. “Acephallic Litter as a Phallic Letter”. Re-inventing the Symptom. Ed.
Luke Thurston. New York: Other Press, 2002. 111-140.
Zizek, Slavoj. How to Read Lacan. London: Granta Publications, 2006.
Living w ith Lawrence’s silent ghosts: a Lacanian reading of “Glad Ghost s” 31
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Prefatory Matters: Prefaces, Readers
and the Evolution of the Novel in Nashe, Behn and Defoe
Stuart O’Donnell
University of Stirling
ABSTRACT
Throughout literary history writers have attempted to control the meaning, and infl uence
the reception, of their books, as well as defi ne their own role in societ y as ‘authors’, through
prefaces, introductions and other forms of paratextual material. The various paratexts at-
tached to Thomas Nashes The Unfortunate Traveller (1594), Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, or
the History of the Royal Slave (1688) and Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders (1722) each reveal
much about the different literary worlds into which these authors were attempting to place
their books. The various Dedications, Introductions and Prefaces to these texts share, to
varying degrees, similar concerns about how the ensuing book should be interpreted, and
about its place in the literary-cultural world of its day. They also display an acute aware-
ness of the literary history, traditions and conventions within which the book is working,
or, to be more precise, against which it is working. More specifi cally, the prefatory mate-
rial attached to each of these texts sheds light on the rise of the novel in literary history.
This paper will attempt to create a literary-historical trajectory, through the close read-
ing of the paratexts attached to these three key texts in the history of the novel, in order
to trace the evolution of the novel into the distinctive artistic form, and mass-market
commodity, we recognize today.
KEYWORDS: Paratexts, Novel (evolution of), Authorial self-representation, Literary
History, Literary Marketplace
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ABSTRAKT
Od początku historii literatury pisarze próbowali kontrolować znaczenie swych powie-
ści, wpływać na ich odbiór krytyczny, jak również określać swą rolę w społeczeństwie
jako ‘autorów’, poprzez przedmowy, wstępy czy inne gatunki paratekstowe. Owe różne
parateksty zastosowane w The Unfortunate Traveller (1594) Thomasa Nashe, Oroono-
ko, or the History of the Royal Slave (1688) Aphry Behn i Moll Flanders (1722) Daniela
Defoe prezentują różne realia literackie, w których autorzy próbowali usytuować swoje
powieści. Dedykacje, Wstępy i Przedmowy do tekstów przywiązują w różnym stopniu
podobną wagę do tego w jaki sposób poszczególne powieści mają być zinterpretowane,
jak i do ich miejsca w świecie kulturalno- literackim swej epoki. Pokazują one również
wyraźną świadomość historii literackiej, tradycji czy konwencji, w których dana powieść
działa, a raczej, przeciwko którym działa. W szczególności, przedmowa, którą tekst jest
opatrzony, rzuca światło na rozwój powieści w historii literackiej.
Poniższy artykuł ma na celu odtworzenie trajektorii literacko-historycznej w oparciu
o analizę paratekstów wspomnianych trzech tekstów w kontekście historii powieści,
w celu ujęcia ewolucji powieści jako gatunku literackiego w niezależną formę artystycz-
ną, jak również produkt rynku masowego, którego współcześnie jesteśmy świadkami.
SŁOWA KLUCZE: Paratekst, powieść (ewolucja), autoprezentacja autorska, historia
literacka, rynek literacki.
In his ‘Editor’s Advertisement’ to The Book of Prefaces Alasdair Gray asserts that there are:
few great wr iters [who] have not placed before one of their books a verbal door step to help
readers leave the ground they usually walk on and allow them a glimpse of the interior.
Prefaces are advertisements and challenges. They usually indicate the kind of reader the
book was written to please, the kind of satisfaction it aims to give. (Gray 7)
In short, prefaces entice the reader into the fi ctional world of the book by allowing
them a glimpse into its ‘interior’; they are nets with which to catch and pull in appro-
priate readers. However, these ‘verbal doorsteps’ do not only draw in and position the
reader in relation to the world of the book, but also position the book itself in relation to
the wider world. Indeed, prefatory material may also allow the reader a glimpse of the
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exterior world of the author, the world in which he/she is attempting to place and position
their book.
Thomas Nashes The Unfortunate Traveller (1594), Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, or the
History of the Royal Slave (1688) and Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders (1722) each feature
prefatory material which does exactly this. The various Dedications, Introductions and
Prefaces to these texts share, to varying degrees, similar concerns about how the ensuing
book should be interpreted, and about its place in the literary-cultural world of its day.
They also display an acute awareness of the literary traditions and conventions within
which the book is working, or, to be more precise, against which it is working. More
specifi cally, the prefatory material attached to these texts sheds light on the simultane-
ous rise of the novel as an artistic form and as a market commodity. Nashes, Behns
and Defoe’s prefatory authorial inscriptions provide a picture of the cultural shifts, and
the artistic and moral concerns, which attended this evolutionary process, namely: the
decline of literary patronage in the face of mass-market publishing, the evolution of the
novel as a distinct form in literary history, and the resultant cultural anxiety about the
moral/social infl uence of this increasingly dominant new mode.
Before going any further it may be useful to clearly establish the different forms that
prefatory material may take. Gray classifi es a preface as any of the following:
any beginning entitled PREFACE, PROLOGUE, PROHEME, INTRODUCTION, IN-
TRODUCTORY, APOLOGY, DESIGN, FOREWORD or ADVERTISEMENT, [as well
as] a few opening lines or paragraphs which are not labeled but prepare the reader for the
following without being essential to it. I also include some dedicatory epistles that make
a political statement. (Gray 7)
Thus, although dedications are not quite the same as prefaces, they should still be con-
sidered as prefatory material, particularly when they make some sort of ‘statement’ – be
it literary, cultural, social or indeed ‘political’.
Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller begins with the customary Dedicatory Epistle to
a literary patron. This is then followed by an authorial, or editorial, Introduction to the
story-proper, a fi rst-person memoir-type narrative. This double prefacing of the narra-
tive has both a structural and a satirical purpose. At the structural level it creates what
Jorges Luis Borges describes in his playful essay ‘Partial Magic in the Quixote’ as a ‘gra-
dation’ of fi ctional realities (see Borges 228-231); that is, stepping stones which lead the
reader from the Dedication, which is written from the real world by the real author to the
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real Earl of Southampton, to the Introduction by the more shadowy ‘editor’ fi gure who
int roduc es the supposedly ‘real’ memoi r of Jack Wilton, and then nally into the fi ctional
world of the story proper.
The Dedication leaves the reader in little doubt that it is Nashe himself who is re-
sponsible for the ensuing text: ‘By divers of my good friends have I been dealt with to em-
ploy my dull pen in this kind, it being a clean different vein from other my former courses
of writing’ (251). He likewise asserts that he is ‘not altogether Fame’s outcast’ (252); that
is, he is already a famous writer. He thus fi rmly establishes himself as the author of ‘this
fantastical treatise’ (251). However, the reader is then confronted with ‘The Introduction
to the Dapper Monsieur Pages of the Court’ (252-254), in which the fi ction is created
that Jack Wilton, supposedly a real personage, has passed his memoir to a pseudo-Nashe
editor-fi gure to publish for the amusement of Jack’s fellow pages. This Introduction ends
with the editor ordering ‘Every man of you take your places, and hear Jack Wilton tell
his own tale’ (254). In short, Jack and his memoir are presented as ‘real’. The ‘editor’ is
merely the middleman in the narrative transaction.
This clearly contradicts the Dedication, in which Nashe himself clearly takes credit
as author of the text. However, this seemingly contradictory prefatory material actually
makes sense from a structural point of view. The Introduction prepares Nashe’s readers
for the ensuing narrative; it is, to repeat Gray’s phrase, a ‘verbal doorstep to help [them]
leave the ground they usually walk on and allow them a glimpse of the interior’. When
the ‘editor’ declares that ‘a proper fellow page of yours, called Jack Wilton, by me com-
mends him unto you, and hath bequeathed for waste paper here amongst you certain
pages of his misfortunes’ (252-253), he is not merely addressing the book’s supposed
audience, Jack’s fellow ‘pages of the court’, but also evoking, for the general reader, the
kind of milieu in which Jack himself moves. He even gives his readers (who, of course,
should not be confused with Jack’s readers) a little foretaste of Jack’s mentality when he
passes on a message from him to his fellow pages:
every one of you after the perusing of this pamphlet is to provide him with a case of po-
niards, that if you come in company with any man which shal l dispraise it or speak against
it, you may cry ‘Sic respondeo’, and give him the stockado. (253)
He likewise makes use of gambling terms, such as ‘mumchance’ (252) and ‘ames-ace’
(253), as well as some decidedly coarse language,printers are mad whoresons (253),
and rather earthy similes, ‘weather-beaten, like a black head with grey hairs…mangy
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at the toes, like an ape about the mouth’ (253), all in order to convey a sense of Jack’s
language to his readers. This sense that the Introduction is preparing the ground, get-
ting the reader in the right frame of mind for the ensuing narrative, is reinforced when
the ‘editor’ declares that:
Many special grave articles more had I to give you in charge [from Jack]…Only let this
suffi ce for a taste to the text and a bit to pull on a good wit with, as a rasher on the coals
is to pull on a cup of wine. (254)
The reader is thus moved from the real world of the Dedication to the interior fi ctional
world of the Memoir via the intermediate fi ctional world of the Introduction, in which the
editor gives a ‘taste’ of Jack’s voice and general character, specifi cally in order to prepare
readers for the ensuing narrative.
However, the relationship between the ‘Dedication’ and ‘Introduction’ also oper-
ates on another, more antagonistic, level. In her article, ‘Authorial Self-Consciousness
in Nashe’s Unfortunate Traveller’ (2005), Wendy Hyman argues that the imagined au-
dience of ‘dapper pages’ evoked in the Introduction ‘form a counterpoint to the lordly
audience (Hyman 3-4) of the Dedication. Via Jack’s plea to his fellow pages (as passed
on by Nashe’s ‘editor’) to ‘give the stockado’ to any who ‘dispraise’ (253) his book, ‘the
commoners as well as the lords are given a very active role in whether Nashe will be
“outlandish Chronicler” more’ (Hyman 3). Although the Introduction, with its address
to the imagined ‘pages of the court’, is, as mentioned above, a literary device, it nev-
ertheless, in Hyman’s words, playfully ‘signals Nashe’s keen awareness of literature as
commodity…[and] registers a precocious turn away from the patronage system and to-
ward the emerging public literary marketplace’ (Hyman 3). Even Jack himself addresses
his target market, which apparently consists of all ‘those who will pay money enough to
peruse [his] story’ (254).
Moreover, in the Dedication itself Nashe openly questions the ‘blind custom me-
thodical antiquity hath thrust upon us, to dedicate such books as we publish to one great
man or other’ (251), and subsequently rather overdoes his praise of Southampton, even
to the point of parody:
Incomprehensible is the heighth of your spirit, both in heroical resolution and matters
of conceit. Unreprievably perisheth that book whatsoever to waste paper, which on the dia-
mond rock of your judgement disasterly chanceth to be shipwrecked [etc, etc]. (251-252)
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It seems that Nashe is somewhat vexed at the fact that without his patron’s ‘authorized
commendation’ his book will never ‘grow to the world’s good liking’ (252). His commen-
dation of his Lordship’s ‘large-spreading branch of renown, from whence these my idle
leaves seek to derive their whole nourishing’ (252) is, at best, grudging.
Thus Nashe’s double prefacing of the main narrative is both inward and outward-
looking. Through it he not only prepares the reader for the ensuing text by providing
them with a ‘verbal doorstep’ (the Introduction) from the real world of the Dedication to
the fi ctional world of the Memoir, but also challenges the convention of literary patron-
age by anticipating the time when, as Ian Watt argues in The Rise of the Novel, ‘the writ-
er’s primary aim [will] no longer [be] to satisfy the standards of patrons and the literary
elite’ (Watt 56), but to satisfy the needs of the literary marketplace. It seems then that
Nashe is not only positioning the reader in relation to his text, but also the text itself in
relation to the world.
His challenge to the patronage system could certainly be viewed as a key moment in the
early development of the novel. Watt argues that the eventual transfer of ‘literature from
the control of patronage [to] the control of the marketplace’, in the early eighteenth-cen-
tury, ‘made possible the remarkable independence of Defoe and Richardson from the clas-
sical critical tradition, which was an indispensable condition of their literary achievement’
(Watt 55-56). In short, the emergence of the new novel form is directly related to the shift
away from patronage to the relative freedom of the literary marketplace. By the beginning
of the eighteenth century, as Ian Probyn points out, ‘the author, the bookseller, and the
book-buying public formed a new entrepreneurial nexus against the traditional custodi-
ans of cultural identity: the patron, the patrician, and the priest’ (Probyn 12). Nashe’s at-
tack on literary patronage in the late sixteenth century certainly seems to foreshadow this
later revolution in publishing, which would help facilitate the rise of the novel.
Yet nearly a hundred years later Aphra Behn, in Oroonoko, was still obliged to adhere
to the convention of patronage. However, like Nashe before her, Behn critiques the cus-
tom in her ‘Epistle Dedicatory to Lord Maitland’, albeit with rather more tact than the
combative Elizabethan, by questioning the practice whereby books are judged by the ‘wit
of the patron’:
My Lord, since the world is grown so nice and critical upon dedications, and will needs
be judging the book by the wit of the patron, we ought, with a great deal of circumspec-
tion, to choose a person against whom there can be no exception; and whose wit and
worth truly merits all that one is capable of saying upon that occasion. (3)
Stuart O’Donnell
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Admittedly, Behn’s subsequent praise of Lord Maitland, a fellow Catholic and favour-
ite of James II (in her introduction to the Penguin edition Janet Todd reveals that Behn
wrote ‘political propaganda on behalf of Charles II and his brother James II’ (Todd xv)),
is not quite as equivocal as Nashe’s commendation of Southampton:
You hoard no one perfection, but lay it out in the glorious service of your religion and
country, to both of which you are a necessary honour. They both want such supporters,
and it is only men of so elevated parts and fi ne knowledge, such noble principles of loy-
alty and religion this nation sighs for. Where is it amongst our nobility we shall fi nd so
great a champion for the Catholic Church? (4)
Given her political and religious allegiances, we can assume that these compliments,
though rather overblown – she later compares Maitland and his wife to that ‘beautiful
pair in paradise (5) – are yet largely sincere. Maitland’s literary credentials (he would
later translate Virgil’s Aeneid) may likewise have attracted Behn to him as a patron (in-
deed, she also praises his reading of ‘innumerable volumes of books’ (4)).
However, all this praise is rather self-serving, since, as she asserts at the start of the
Dedication, the world will ‘judge [her] book by the wit of [her] patron’ (3). Fortunately
for her, she has a rather accomplished one. Of course, whatever she really thinks of Mait-
land it is clearly in her interest to lavishly praise him. Yet this does not negate her initial
unease that the fate of her book depends on him. Like Nashe’s ‘idle leaves [which must]
derive their whole nourishing’ from Southampton’s ‘large-spreading branch of renown’
(252), the ‘humble fruits [Behn’s] industry produces [must be lain at the] feet’ (5) of Mait-
land if they are not simply to wither away. The patronage system is thus still coming be-
tween the author and the reading public. It is perhaps signifi cant that Behn had already
been a victim of this system. As William Warner points out, she had been ‘pushed away
from writing for the theatre and toward the market in printed books’ in the fi rst place by
the ‘decline of royal patronage’ (Warner 46-47) for the former. She was thus presumably
aware of the vagaries of literary patronage by the time she came to write her ‘Dedicatory
Epistle’ to Maitland.
Just over 40 years later Daniel Defoe will dispense with the need for a dedication
in his novel Moll Flanders as a result of what Ian Watt describes as the ‘steady decline
of literary patronage’ (Watt 52). It certainly seems that the cracks in this system can be
traced back through Behn to Nashe. At any rate, by the early eighteenth century suc-
cessful writers like Samuel Richardson and Defoe will no longer need to ‘use dedications
Prefator y Matters: Prefac es, Readers and the Evolution of the Nove l in Nashe, Behn and Defoe 39
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to seek the “protection” of recognised cultural authorities, but instead will accept the
rigorous independence the market imposes upon [them]’ (Warner 203). However, the
new market-driven book industry raises new concerns for authors, particularly around
hierarchies of genre (that is, the positioning of the novel in relation to earlier genres,
such as the romance), and the moral/social purpose of the increasingly popular novel in
society. Defoe deals with these issues in his ‘Preface’ to Moll Flanders, as does Behn in
her prefatory material to Oroonoko.
Behn is particularly concerned with the question of genre, specifi cally with the dis-
tinction between ‘romance’ and ‘true history’. Her title-page announces that her story is ‘A
True History’ of a ‘Royal Slave’, a claim which she is keen to reinforce, both in her ‘Dedica-
tory Epistle’, and in the opening paragraphs of the story proper. Although not labelled as
prefatory material, the fi rst few paragraphs of the story yet ‘prepare the reader for the fol-
lowing without being essential to it’ (Gray 7), and thus, as Alasdair Gray argues, should be
viewed as prefatory. The author-narrator here assures her readers that the ‘history of this
royal slave’ is no mere fanciful entertainment; Oroonoko is certainly not a ‘feigned hero’
created by her ‘fancy’ (Behn 9). On the contrary, she ‘is relating the truth…there being
enough of reality to support it and to render it diverting without the addition of invention’
(9). Although the phrase ‘enough of reality’ may jump out at the attentive reader as rather
undermining her claim to historicity, she nonetheless goes on to assert that ‘I was myself
an eye-witness to a great part of what you will fi nd here set down; and what I could not be
witness of I received from the mouth of the chief actor in this history’ (9). She thus claims
to be giving the history of a real personage, whom she has actually met, and whom has
told her his story (that is, the bits she did not witness herself).
These claims of historical authenticity echo those already made in the Dedication:
This is the true story of a man gallant enough to merit your [Maitland’s] protection …The
royal slave I had the honour to know in my travels to the other world…If there be any-
thing that seems romantic, I beseech your Lordship to consider, these countries do, in all
things, so differ from ours that they produce inconceivable wonders; at least they appear
so to us because new and strange. What I have mentioned I have taken care should be
truth, let the critical reader judge as he pleases. (5)
Thus, anything which seems ‘romantic’ can simply be put down to cultural difference;
the ‘inconceivable wonders’ are only so because they are ‘new and strange’. Behn’s dis-
missal of ‘romantic’ elements in favour of ‘true history’ should perhaps be understood in
Stuart O’Donnell
40
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its literary-historical context. In his book The Origins of the English Novel Michael McK-
eon argues that print culture, from the late sixteenth century onwards:
helps ‘periodize’ romance as a ‘medieval’ production, as that which the present age – the
framing counterpoint of the classical past – defi nes itself against. Medieval romance, in
which the antecedents of our ‘history’ and ‘romance’ coexist…becomes ‘medieval ro-
mance’, the product of an earlier period and increasingly the locus of strictly ‘romance’
elements that have been separated out from the documentary objectivity of history and
of print. (McKeon 45).
The pseudo-Behn narrator is certainly keen to characterize her narrative as true and ob-
jective history, as opposed to fanciful romance; after all, she herself was an ‘eye-witness’
(9) to most of the events she narrates. However, as McKeon notes, the ‘claim to histo-
ricity’ routinely exploited ‘techniques of authentication by fi rst-hand and documentary
witnesses’ (McKeon 47). Likewise, her defence that the ‘inconceivable wonders’ in her
narrative are only so because they are ‘new and strange’ (a phrase which she uses both in
the Dedication (5) and in the second paragraph of the story-proper (9)) is a common one
in seventeenth century discourse, in which:
the old claim that a story is “strange but true” subtly modulates into something more like
the paradoxical formula “strange, therefore true”. The fact of “strangeness” or “new-
ness” ceases, that is, to be a liability to empirical truth-telling, and becomes instead
an attestation in its support. (McKeon 47)
This ‘strange, therefore true’ formula fi ts in nicely with Behn’s defence of the more ro-
mantic elements in her narrative. Of course, she is describing an alien culture to her
readers, so they will presumably expect a certain amount of strangeness.
Thus, Behn is keen to differentiate her ‘true history’ from fanciful ‘romance’. How-
ever, as McKeon argues, the ‘pronounced claim to historicity [made] through the posture
of autobiographical memoir, secret history, or authenticated document’, all techniques
very much in vogue during the Restoration period (certainly, Behn uses elements from
all these modes in Oroonoko), tend to ‘orchestrate the collision between “history” and
“romance” so listlessly as to assert very little, or evince no formal self-consciousness
whatsoever’ (McKeon 60). Indeed, as Paul Salzman points out, ‘Behn is working within
a series of conventions which do not distinguish between romance and realism in this
Prefator y Matters: Prefac es, Readers and the Evolution of the Nove l in Nashe, Behn and Defoe 41
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way… Oroonoko treats its protagonist as a character in a heroic romance’ (Salzman 314),
while simultaneously presenting him as a real historical personage. For instance, in the
extravagantly grotesque and improbably protracted description, of Oroonoko’s torture
and execution, Behn very much leaves historical realism behind:
He had learned to take tobacco, and when he was assured he should die, he desired they
would give him a pipe in his mouth, ready lighted which they did, and the executioner
came and fi rst cut off his members and threw them into the fi re. After that, with an ill-
favoured knife, they cut his ears and his nose, and burned them; he still smoked on, as
if nothing had touched him. Then they hacked off one of his arms, and still he bore up,
and held his pipe. (76)
Oroonoko’s Roman-like heroism in the face of death strikes one as decidedly incongru-
ous with Behn’s claims of historicity. It also clashes somewhat with her attempt to estab-
lish a realistic, albeit ‘new and strange’, setting for her story. It certainly seems that, as
Salzman argues, she is ‘aware of the popularity of both the elevated hero of romance, and
the detailed description of setting, and so puts both devices to good use’ (Salzman 314).
Thus, despite her claims to the contrary, Behn makes use of decidedly romantic ele-
ments in her narrative. So then what is the purpose of her rejection of romance? McKeon
argues that this tendency turns on the contemporary valorization of empirical truth:
In seventeenth century prose narrative, verisimilitude and the claim to historicity are
incompatible…Verisimilitude will prevail, but only in the long run and only as the re-
formulated doctrine of ‘realism’…the claim to historicity and its more extreme negation
of ‘romance’ are preferable: they are a far more direct and immediate re ection of em-
pirical and sceptical epistemology. (McKeon 53)
Behn certainly sets her book up in ‘an oppositional relationship with romance’, yet it fails
to reach the level of realism expected in a modern novel: in Probyn’s words, ‘the defi ning
characteristic of [the early to mid-eighteenth century] novel is a recognizable, familiar,
and contemporary reality’ (Probyn 2). Behn’s ‘new and strange’ narrative fails to provide
this, or at least not so rigorously as the likes of Defoe and Richardson will for their read-
ers. Yet her vigorous rejection of ‘romance’ in her prefatory material nevertheless signals
the shift towards realism. Oroonoko could thus be viewed as a mid-point between the
‘romance’ and the modern, realistic novel.
Stuart O’Donnell
42
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In his ‘Preface’ to Moll Flanders Defoe (or, to be more precise, a pseudo-Defoe edi-
tor-fi gure) likewise concerns himself with the question of literary genre and authenticity:
The World is so taken up of late with Novels and Romances, that it will be hard for a pri-
vate History to be taken for Genuine, where the Names and other Circumstances of the
Person are concealed, and on this Account we must be content to leave the Reader to
pass his own Opinion upon the ensuing Sheets, and take it just as he pleases. (1)
Defoe here differentiates between the ‘private History’ he is presenting to his readers and
‘Novels and Romances’. His emphasis on the former may refl ect the growing belief that
‘individual experience’ should be viewed as ‘the ultimate arbiter of reality’ (Watt 14). In-
deed, as Watt argues, Defoe’s ‘subordination of the plot to the pattern of autobiographi-
cal memoir is as defi ant an assertion of the primacy of individual experience in the novel
as Descartes’s cogito, ergo sum [I think, therefore I am] was in philosophy’ (Watt 15).
However, his assertion that he is presenting a ‘private History, and not merely a novel or
(God forbid) a romance, also refl ects anxiety around the association of the term ‘novel’
with such writers as Behn. As Probyn points out: ‘the problem confronting the fi rst wave
of novelists, in the early eighteenth century, was of disassociation and redefi nition of the
form itself’ (Probyn 3); in short, the novel had an image problem, which had to be ad-
dressed. William Warner argues that the object of early ‘antinovel discourse was quite
precise – namely, seventeenth century romances and novellas of continental origin, as
well as the “novels” and “secret histories” written by Behn [and others]’ (Warner 4),
which, it was assumed, were mainly read by women, and purely as entertainment. As
discussed above, Oroonoko contains a good deal of rather fanciful ‘romance’. Writers
like Defoe were now aiming for a purer form of realism than the likes of Behn aspired to
in the previous century. Novel-writing was becoming a serious business, in every sense
of the word.
Thus, Defoe sets up a new hierarchy of genre, at the top of which he places the
‘private History’ as the most ‘Genuine’ (1) mode. Behn’s fi ction has been relegated
to the level of mere romance, the very mode she tried so hard to disassociate herself
from. Yet, rather interestingly, Defoe leaves it up to the reader to decide if the ‘ensu-
ing Sheets’ are really ‘Genuine’ (1), just as Behn, in her Dedication, had earlier chal-
lenged the ‘critical reader’ to ‘judge’ whether the ensuing narrative was the ‘truth’ (5).
However, Defoe demands even more from his readers than Behn. In his ‘Preface’ he
asserts that:
Prefator y Matters: Prefac es, Readers and the Evolution of the Nove l in Nashe, Behn and Defoe 43
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this Work is chiefl y recommended to those who know how to Read it, and how to make
good Uses of it, which the Story all along recommends to them; so it is to be hop’d that
such Readers will be much more pleas’d with the Moral, than the Fable; with the Appli-
cation, than with the Relation, and with the End of the Writer, than with the Life of the
Person written of. (2)
Defoe here emphasizes the role of the reader in extracting the utilitarian ‘Moral’ from
his text – which, of course, ‘the Story all along recommends to them’ – rather than sim-
ply enjoying the ‘Fable’ on its own account. He goes on to recommend his book ‘to the
Reader as a Work from every part of which something may be learned’ (4). In short, his
book is intended to have a didactic purpose; it is not merely entertainment.
This assertion is particularly signifi cant at this point in the history of the novel.
Warner argues that attention was increasingly being directed toward ‘the psychology
of response and the moral and pedagogical uses of novel reading’, a trend which was
a direct consequence of ‘the conservative reaction against any novel reading for enter-
tainment’ (9). Ronald Paulson likewise points out that ‘the early novel was created in
an age when moral justifi cation was still necessary, and the description of everyday life
for its own sake was considered frivolous’ (18). Of course, this moral justifi cation is
particularly important if you are presenting the life of a woman ‘who was born in New-
gate…was Twelve Year a Whore, fi ve Times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother),
Twelve Year a Thief etc, etc’, as Defoe’s title-page announces of Moll. As Warner notes,
‘any who would defend novels [including those going under the name of ‘private His-
tory’] had to…respond to the accusation that they were corrupting their enthusiastic
readers’ (Warner 4).
Defoe actually goes even further than this by suggesting that anyone who merely
enjoys reading his book, whilst failing to fi nd the many morals, is already corrupt:
It is suggested there cannot be the same Life, the Same Brightness and Beauty, in relat-
ing the penitent Part, as is in the criminal Part: If there be any Truth in that Suggestion,
I must be allow’d to say, ’tis because there is not the same taste and relish in the Reading,
and indeed it is too true that the difference lyes not in the real worth of the Subject so
much as in the Gust and Palate of the Reader. (2)
Defoe, through his ‘editor’ – who also assures his readers he has cut out ‘some of the
vicious parts’ of Moll’s memoir, and ‘very much shortn’d several other parts’ in order to
Stuart O’Donnell
44
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‘put it into a Dress fi t to be seen’ (1-2) – thus rids himself of any potential blame for pub-
lishing the memoir by arguing that if you, the reader, enjoy reading the ‘criminal Part’
more than the ‘penitent Part’ it says more about you than him. Indeed, he asserts that
‘none can, without being guilty of manifest Injustice, cast any Reproach upon [the book],
or upon our Design in publishing it’ (3). Thus, through his ‘editor’s Preface’ Defoe not
only attempts to position his readers in relation to his book, by suggesting to them how
it should be read, but also, by disassociating it from the fanciful ‘novels’ of the previous
century and setting it up as a purely didactic text, tries to position it in the wider literary
and social world of his day.
Thus, the various Dedications and Prefaces of Nashe, Behn and Defoe not only pro-
vide windows into the worlds of their texts, but also into the literary and social worlds in
which they were attempting to place and position their books. They also shed light on the
rise of the novel, as a distinct literary form, in society. Nashe’s double prefacing of The
Unfortunate Traveller serves both a structural and a satirical purpose; it is both inward
and outward-looking. It not only prepares the reader for the ensuing text but also cri-
tiques the literary culture within which the book must be placed. Likewise, in Oroonoko,
Behn questions the custom whereby the success or otherwise of her book depends on the
‘wit of the patron’ (3). Nashe and Behn’s unease with the patronage system anticipates
its later decline in the face of the increasingly dominant literary marketplace, a process
which, as Watt argues, helps facilitate the rise of the novel. Indeed, by the early eight-
eenth century Defoe will feel no need to attach a dedication to Moll Flanders. Behn and
Defoe also concern themselves with questions of authenticity and genre. Indeed, through
their prefatory authorial inscriptions one can trace the move away from Romance to the
modern, realistic novel. Defoe also deals with the position and purpose of the novel in
society. In his ‘Preface’ he argues that his book is not merely an entertaining story, but
a text with a clear didactic purpose, in order, it seems, to defend himself and his book
against the growing moral censure of the now thriving novel form. It seems then that the
various Dedications and Prefaces attached to each of these books are not merely ‘verbal
doorsteps’ into the respective ctional worlds, but revolving doors between them and the
literary-cultural/social worlds from which each writer was working. Through these doors
we can get a glimpse of how the novel evolved into the distinctive artistic form, and mass-
market commodity, we recognize today.
Prefator y Matters: Prefac es, Readers and the Evolution of the Nove l in Nashe, Behn and Defoe 45
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Works Cited
Behn, Aphra. Oronooko or the History of the Royal Slave, ed. by Janet Todd London: Pen-
guin, 2003.
Borges, Jorges Luis. ‘Partial Magic in the Quixote’, in Labyrinths: Selected Stories and
Other Writings, trans. by James E. Irby, London: Penguin, 1960: 228-231.
Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders (1722), Ed. by G.A. Starr, Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1998.
Gray, Alasdair. ‘Editor’s Advertisement’, in The Book of Prefaces, ed. by Alasdair Gray,
London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2000.
Hyman, Wendy. ‘Authorial Self-Consciousness in Nashe’s Unfortunate Traveller’, 2005,
<http://geocities.com/winderkampf/nash1.htm>
McKeon, Michael. The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740, Baltimore and London:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987.
Nashe, Thomas. The Unfortunate Traveller, ed. by J.B. Stearne, London: Penguin, 1985.
Paulson, Ronald. Satire and the Novel in Eighteenth Century England, New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1968.
Probyn, Ian. English Fiction of the Eighteenth Century, 1700-1789, London and New York:
Longman, 1987.
Salzman, Paul. English Prose Fiction, 1558-1700: A Critical History, Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1985.
Todd, Janet. ‘Introduction’ to Oroonoko, or the History of the Royal Slave. Ed. Janet Todd,
London: Penguin, 2003.
Warner, William B. Licensing Entertainment: The Elevation of Novel Reading in Britain,
1684-1750, Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1998.
Watt, Ian. The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (1957 ), Lon-
don: Pimlico, 2000.
Stuart O’Donnell
46
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Writer or the Written? Remarks on Gender and
Language in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
Paweł Wojtas
Lingwistyczna Szkoła Wyższa, Warsaw
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this paper is to situate Criseyde, the protagonist of Geoffrey Chaucer’s
medieval romance Troilus and Criseyde, in the medieval model of phallocentric society
and establish to what extent she is dominated by men, and how far she can act autono-
mously by organizing independently her own female economy, given that she is caught
up in the medieval gendered metaphysics of writing. The questions of male dominance
will be subjected to both literal and allegorical representations of writing. Since this
aspect of writing is deeply ingrained in the story through the prolifi c letter-production
of the protagonists – which has been interrogated by Sarah Stanbury (“Womens let-
ter’s” 280), who goes as far as to hail the poem an “epistolary romance” – this article will
seek to expose the ways in which writing serves as a powerful manipulative mechanism
of patriarchal dominance in the medieval courtly love tradition. I will also elaborate on
the aspects of narration testifying to deliberate alterations of the original story, namely
Boccaccio’s Ill Fostrato.
KEYWORDS: Chaucer, writing, feminity, phallocentrism, silence, the Other.
ABSTRAKT
Celem artykułu jest usytuowanie Kresydy, bohaterki średniowiecznego romansu ry-
cerskiego Goeffrey’a Chaucer’a pt. Troilus and Criseyde, w modelu średniowiecznego
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społeczeństwa fallocentrycznego. Po drugie, jest nim ustalenie w jaki sposób Kresyda
jako kobieta jest zdominowana przez mężczyzn, a w jakim stopniu potrafi działać au-
tonomicznie poprzez manifestowanie własnej kobiecości. Należy przy tym wziąć pod
uwagę fakt, że bohaterka jest ‘uwięziona’ w średniowiecznej metafi zyce pisania. Kwe-
stie męskiej dominacji będą zestawione z dosłownymi jaki i alegorycznymi egzempli-
kacjami pisania. Ponieważ czynność pisania jest wyraźnie obecna w dziele poprzez
motywy epistolarne (Sarah Stanbury określiła nawet utwór jako ‘romans epistolarny’)
(“Womens letter’s” 280), artykuł ma na celu także ukazanie sposobów, za pomocą któ-
rych pisanie pojmowane jako proces służy mechanizmom utrwalania struktur domina-
cji patriarchalnej w średniowiecznej tradycji ‘courtly love’. Zostaną również omówione
procesy narracyjne, uwydatniające elementy świadczące o alternatywnej reinterpre-
tacji znanej historii Troilus and Criseyde przez Chaucera (wzorowanej na Ill Fostrato
Boccaccia).
SŁOWA KLUCZE: Chaucer, pisanie, kobiecość, fallocentryzm, cisza, Inny/a.
“Her behavior and her voice constrained, she be-
comes the text itself, written on rather than writing
her own destiny.” (Pugh and Weisl 117)
Since Ferdinand de Saussure laid the foundations of the study of linguistics, the multi-
layered quality of writing has become a focal point of structuralist and post-structuralist
philosophy. In his Doubling the Point J.M. Coetzee underscores that writing has become
irreducible to the function of unidirectional automaton of thought, but at the same time
reciprocated a performative agency upon the writer him/herself: “Writing reveals to you
what you wanted to say in the fi rst place. In fact it sometimes constructs what you want
or wanted to say… That is the sense in which one can say that writing writes us.” (Co etz ee
18). Accordingly, writing does not only refl ect the thought, but also alters it in the ac-
tive process of writing. Writing as an active event is essentially performative, yet simul-
taneously involves inextricably intertwined in the written text interpretative processes
through reading, and this reciprocal relation of reading and writing, interpretation and
translation, reception and response, render the author as much the writer of the text as
him/herself being written by it.
Paweł Wojtas
48
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Through the investigation of the concept of ‘supplement’ (introduced by Jean Jacques
Rousseau) Jacques Derrida in his Of Grammatology pinpoints the destructive, parasitic
authority of writing over speech and thought, identifi ed by the philosopher as the view
of writing within western metaphysics. ‘Supplement’ according to Derrida supplies the
defi cient original body, but at the same time supplants it, being thus complete in itself.
Thus writing which is to supply the body of speech becomes in this instance its ‘danger-
ous supplement’ which substitutes speech. The very theory of the contagious qualities
of writing lends validity to the analysis of Troilus and Criseyde, where writing assumes
a profound signifi cance in male-female relations as well as in the intralinguistic matters
of gender. Just as thought is subject to distortion due to a rigid corset of language as
a supplement (the written language in particular), gendered writing as a historically con-
solidated cultural phenomenon exposes implicit linguistic processes, resulting in (often
involuntary) misogyny or misandry at the semantic level. Such unintentional misogyny
consolidated in language on the speaker’s or writer’s part, serves as a supplement and
supplants the author’s original intention. In fact, the subject of the gendered metaphysics
of writing traces back to the Middle Ages, which is observable in the literary convention
of the courtly love tradition. With this in mind, the two suggested supplements of west-
ern metaphysics, that is gender and writing, will be inextricably the focal points of my
investigation of feminine literacy of the Middle Ages.
Medieval philosophy and theology associated feminity with the notion of the ‘carnal’,
therefore (with reference to language) the literal, and ‘spiritual’ Word was to belong, by
the same token, to the realm of masculinity. Hence, the monopoly for creative writing as
a performance of skill, wit, spirituality was inextricably bound up with masculinity, as
opposed to feminine carnality and fi ckleness (Cox 9). Indeed, women were offered little
opportunity to demonstrate their writing profi ciency, since feminine ‘carnal’ letters had
to be (as shown later in this paper) mistrusted by a dominant masculine judgment.
In accordance with the mainstream poststructuralist approach, the author (along
with his authorial intention) is supposed to ‘die’. Namely, in W.K. Wimsatt’s The Inten-
tional Fallacy and R. Barthes’ The Death of the Author the theorists state that the author
ought not to be treated as an undisputed source of uniform meaning of the text. However,
does the author’s gender die with him or her? With this in mind, Carolyn Dinshaw states:
“Love, sex, gender and literary activity are intimately, metaphorically related in the Mid-
dle Ages. … In fact, literary activity as it is represented in Chaucer is always, I believe,
a gendered activity.” (15) In fact, in Chaucer’s Tro i l u s a manifestly masculine account (an
overwhelming male-characters’ narration, which injures potential feminine autonomy)
Writer or the Writ ten? Remarks on Gender and Language i n Geoff rey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde 49
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ornamented with the festival of allegorical phallic representations, dangerously reduces
its female protagonist Criseyde to a passive pawn on a male chessboard, played with,
instead of playing her own game; ‘written on’, as opposed to ‘writing’ by herself.
Where in the poem does the author leave room for Criseyde ‘the writer’? Is her intel-
lectual province merely limited to the image generated by men? If it be so, she is an arti-
fact of phallocentric hegemony, never independent since looked at through a masculine
prism and conceived of through her relationship to men. If otherwise, how can oppressed
Criseyde verify her autonomy? Is it perhaps not what Criseyde does not speak that shouts
loudest? Or is it conceivably the silence of the narrator, gamely washing his hands of tex-
tual authority and creativity that conveys more than the text attempts to?
And of his song naught only the sentence, As writ myn auctor called Lollius, but plainly,
save oure tonges difference … (1.395-96).
I make bold to give not only the gist of his song (as my author called Lollius, writes), but
in full, save for the difference in our languages.” (9-10).
Finally, how can silence recuperate the protagonist from the stigma of ‘the written’? Hav-
ing elaborated on the questions posited, the ensuing assumptions will be to establish not
only the position of women, but fi rst and foremost to expose the ways language and writ-
ing serve to ascertain the inferiority of women in the phallocentric medieval culture.
However, before the stated problems are scrutinized, a short synopsis of the long
poem in quest ion should be rendered as a backdrop for the arguments as well as to assur e
maximum readability.
The long poem’s main plot revolves around the Siege of Troy. Criseyde, the daughter
of Calchas who betrayed the Trojans to support the Greeks, stays in Troy unaided and
vulnerable. She suddenly becomes an object of Troilus’ (a young Trojan warrior) desire,
who manages to win Criseyde’s favours thanks to the help of her uncle Pandarus. Cri-
seyde’s father anticipating the destruction of Troy organizes an exchange of prisoners
to save his daughter and take her away from Troy. Criseyde, assures Troilus she would
return shortly, yet once she realizes the return is impossible, she yields to the courtships
of Diomede betraying Troilus. When Troilus fi nds a brooch, which he presented Criseyde
back in Troy, pinned to Diomedes’ armour he becomes heartbroken and attempts to take
revenge on him, yet is killed by Achilles. The last scene depicts Troilus’ ascension dur-
ing which he resignedly comments on the futility of life. Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
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was modelled on Boccaccio’s Ill Fostrato and later rewritten by Shakespeare in his verse
drama Troilus and Cressida. Chaucer’s version is apparently the least misogynistic, and
the most determined to recuperate the reputedly ‘fi ckle’ female protagonist.
The Manipulative Writing
Manifestly, writing a letter becomes the fi rst nexus in the chain of Pandarus’ subterfuge,
aimed at persuading Criseyde to reciprocate Troilus’ desire, leading to the lovers’ sexual
consummation:
Towchyng thi lettre, thou art wys ynough:
I woot thow nylt it dygneliche endite,
As make it with thise argumentes tough;
Ne scryvenyssh or craftyly thou it write;
Biblotte it with thi teris ek a lite;
And if thow write a goodly word al softe,
Though it be good, reherce it not to ofte. (2. 1023-2)
Regarding your letter – you’re smart enough. I know you won’t write it with haughty airs,
showing off, or being argumentative; and nor should you write it like some secretary, or
artfully. Blot it with your tears a bit, too! And if you write some fi ne a nd ver y te nder word,
even if it’s good, don’t repeat it too often! (42)
Letter writing appears to assume a profound signifi cance in Pandarus’ conspiratorial
stratagem. The contriver’s agency in the quoted fragment is not merely limited to en-
couraging Troilus to write the letter to Criseyde, but he also audaciously imposes a scru-
pulous stylistic technique of letter writing upon Troilus. The fact that Troilus is encour-
aged to simplify the letter and adjust its eloquence to a female reader (which is implicitly
misogynistic) evinces a substantial degree of male manipulation. The letter is expected
to be not merely a means of communication between the correspondents, but an execu-
tor of Pandarus’ calculated stratagem.
Furthermore, fetishizing the letter by way of a medieval custom of tear blotting, em-
phasizes the manipulative deliberation of Pandarus, which entails Criseyde’s invitation
to take pity on Troilus. In the medieval courtly love tradition the custom of a woman
taking pity on a man in heterosexual relations does not merely function as a gesture
Writer or the Writ ten? Remarks on Gender and Language i n Geoff rey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde 51
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of sympathy, but is to alleviate the pain of the person in love, which is commensurate
with reciprocating sexual desire or love. Therefore, the deliberate structural scheming
of the letter testifi es to manipulative inclinations of the writers, whose contrivance inevi-
tably pushes Criseyde into the whirlwind of phallocentric domination.
Writing becomes an insignia of male authority, and Criseyde is expected to succumb
to the masculine primacy. At this point, through the depreciation of the female reader,
Pandarus commits his fi rst blunder. The deliberate simplifi cation of the letter combined
with his earlier misogynistic remark: “Forthi hire wit to serven wol I fonde” (2.273) [So
I’ll try and adapt what I say to her intelligence.] (28) – impudently thrust Criseyde into
the medieval stereotypical mould of female intellectual inferiority to men.
The ‘carnalization’ of Troilus’ feeling, realized through the letter writing, is superfi -
cially to communicate the affection of the writer, but in effect the undertaking harbingers
a tacit responsibility of reciprocity imposed on Criseyde, who is manifestly deterred by
the plotters’ conduct:
Gan for to change, and seyde, ‘Scrit ne bille,
For love of God, that toucheth swich matere,
Ne bryng me noon; and also, uncle deere,
To myn estat have more reward, I preye,
Than to his lust! What sholde I more seye? (2. 1131-34)
Refuse it naught’, quod he, and hente hire faste,
And in hire bosom the lettre down he thraste. (2. 1154-55)
For the love of God, don’t bring me any letter or anything in writing that relates to such
matter! And also, dear uncle, I beg you, do have more regard to my position that to his
pleasure! What more should I say?
…don’t refuse it-! And [Pandarus] caught hold of her fi rmly and thrust the letter down
in her bosom… (44)
Criseyde’s refusal to read the letter, followed by her subsequent refusal to answer it in
writing: “For trewely I nyl no lettre write.’” (2. 1161) [I won’t write any letter] (44) pro-
claims that she does not necessarily wish to avoid speaking to Troilus as such, she does,
however, evade written dialogue for some reason. Pandarus and Criseyde’s conversation
testifi es to their mutual awareness of the pertinence of writing, as the more persistently
Criseyde refuses to answer the letter, the more coercive Pandarus grows. As it happens,
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the oppressor becomes as impertinent in his urging as to resort to thrusting the letter
into Criseyde’s bosom.
Criseyde, as a woman, a widow, the daughter of a traitor, is entirely aware of her sus-
ceptibility to social inhibitions as well as public condemnation. Yet, it may at fi rst appear
perplexing that writing causes such an acute anxiety for Criseyde. Yet, it is not writing
per se, about which she is agitated, since she affi rms her literacy by declaring: “Ye, for
I kan so written.” (2. 1205), as particularly letter-writing – “And ek I noot what I sholde
to hym seye.” (2. 1206). [Well, yes I could write … and yet I don’t know what I should say
to him.’] (45).
Socially constrained as a woman, she is accordingly inhibited as a writer, which the
narrator signals by emblematically providing a third person synopsis of Criseyde’s letter
to Troilus, as opposed to a reliable fi rst person account:
[…] but holden hym in honde
She nolde nought, ne make hireselven bonde
In love; but as his suster, hym to plese,
She wolde ay fayn to doon his herte an ese. (2. 1222-25)
She thanked him for all his good intentions towards her, but she would not play him
along with false promises, nor make herself a slave to love; but, to please him she would
gladly comfort him as sister. (46)
The letter exposes a fl agrant incongruity between male and female writing in Troilus and
Criseyde. Whereas the male protagonists perform strategic, hence manipulative, writing,
the writing of Criseyde defensively sketches her feminine milieu. Compromise is a req-
uisite for her to keep a safe distance from phallic intrusion, and the infringement on her
private fortress coerces Criseyde to negotiate with the oppressors (Stanbury, “Womens
Letter’s” 279). The negotiation is therefore the only possible means to defer the inevita-
ble infringement of the female protagonist’s private enclave by the manipulators. As a lit-
erate person she is reluctant to write back to Troilus not because of her inability to write
letters as such, but because she senses the utter futility of negotiating with its reader.
Therefore, as a writer she is careful not to under