Since its origins, literature has aspired to a form of transcendence which could deliver man from his dreaded finitude. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, considered as one of the earliest texts of Humanity, listed formulas which enabled the dying to cross safely the door of the Kingdom of Gods. The Theogony of Hesiod, the Apocalypse of St. John or the descents to hell of Orpheus, Aeneas or later, Dante, are attempts to describe the hereafter which is found, in various forms, in all cultures. The crossing of supernatural frontiers involves a major formal challenge which Michel de Certeau raised in The Mystical Fable about the experience of writers like Saint John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila: how are we to express what, by its very essence, is outside the normal range of experience? How are we to say the ineffable?
If, at the beginning, the literary treatment of the afterlife was held within the framework of historical religions, the situation changed with the process of secularization which started in Western countries in the eighteenth century. From the romantic quest for the absolute to Baudelaire’s, Rimbaud’s and Mallarme’s spiritual impulses, literature has become the sign that we are inclined to what the critic Hugo Friedrich calls "an empty ideality”, a kind of celestial pole that can no longer identify with any form of doctrinal faith. During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, when religious faith declines in favor of capitalist materialism and consumerism, the paradoxical search for a hereafter without gods accelerates and diversifies. Whether through linguistic experimentation brought to its ultimate limits (Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Paul Celan), tales of adventure or extreme human experiences (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad), the exploration of artificial paradise (Henri Michaux), the nostalgic or parodic reuse of old eschatological myths (Franz Kafka) as their fantastic updating (H. P. Lovecraft, Maurice G. Dantec) or, in the tradition of Sade, through a reverse search for salvation in the crudest forms of crime and sex (Jean Genet, Georges Bataille), literature continues to express in many ways the human aspiration to go beyond the limits imposed on us by death and a society completely centered on rationality and profit.
This topic is exclusive of no period or no genre: yet it requires a comparative approach.
The proposals (3000 characters), with a brief bibliography and a short presentation of the author must be sent before October 22nd 2013 in word file at: lgcrevue_@_gmail.com. The shortlisted articles will have to be sent by December 16th 2013.
We remind you that the review of general and comparative literature TRANS- accepts articles written in French, English and Spanish.
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