Literature in Society
The essays in this volume focus on the text-world dichotomy that has been a pivotal problem since Plato, implicating notions of mimesis and representation and raising a series of debatable issues. Do literary texts relate only to the fictional world and not to the real one? Do they not only describe but also perform and thus create and transform reality? Is literature a mere reflection/expression of society, a field and a tool of political manipulations, a playground to exercise ideological and social power?
Herbert Grabes’ seminal essay “Literature in Society/Society and Its Literature”, which opens this volume, perfectly captures the essential functions of literature in society, whether it be Derridean belief in a revolutionary potential of literature, “the power of literature to say everything”, or Hillis Miller’s view of literature having the potential to create or reveal alternative realities; or, according to Grabes, the ability of literature “to offer to society a possibility of self-reflection by way of presenting a double of what is held to be reality”; and, last but not least, the ability of literature “to considerably contribute to the joy of life by enabling a particular kind of pleasure” – the pleasure of reading literature.
The subsequent essays collected in this volume deal with complex relations between Literature and Society, approaching this issue from different angles and in various historical epochs. They are on diverse thematics and written from diverse theoretical perspectives, differing in scope and methodology.
Regina Rudaitytė is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Vilnius University, Lithuania. She holds an MA in English from Vilnius University and an MA in the Novel from the University of East Anglia, UK. She received her PhD in American Literature from Moscow M. Lomonosov University. She is Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Philology and former Chair of the Department of Literary History and Theory at Vilnius University, and a national representative on the ESSE board. She has published widely on contemporary British fiction, women’s writing, literary translation and is the author of The Metamorphosis of Character in Postmodern Fiction (Vilnius University Press, 2000) and An Outline of Contemporary British Fiction (2006). She edited the volume Postmodernism and After: Visions and Revisions (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008).
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