A Man Could Stand Up : Masculinities in British and Australian Literature of the Great War
2022, Mergenthal, Silvia
This book explores imbalances of power between male and female characters, and the interplay between fictional masculinities, in British and Australian fiction of the First World War. While most of the novels under consideration were written during the war itself and in the interwar period, others take stock of what it means to be a man in times of war on the occasion of WWI anniversaries, including the 2014-2018 centenary.
These more recent novels draw upon repositories of sedimented images stored in archives of cultural memory, thus raising the question of how the Great War is inscribed in national imaginaries. Hence, some chapters will also discuss Australian texts as they serve to demonstrate, even more clearly than their British counterparts, how constructions of masculinity intersect with constructions of national identity. Finally, in some fictional subgenres such as adventure novels, it is their indebtedness to literary traditions which engender specific types of masculinity.
James Robertson, The Fanatic (2000)
2017, Mergenthal, Silvia
Suggests that Robertson's first novel, chiefly concerned with 17th century Scotland, already shows the complex intertextual relationships with earlier Scottish works by Scott, Hogg, and Stevenson that marks his subsequent writing, and comments particularly on its question "What happens later?," in relation to the Scottish vote for political devolution in May 1997.
A Dead Poets' Society : Rupert Brooke's and August Stramm's War Poems
2015-10-13, Mergenthal, Silvia
Among the millions of casualties of World War I, there were hundreds of poets, some of them quite well known when they enlisted, while others only found – and tragically lost – their literary voices during the war. It is the latter group of poets who are often regarded as ‘War Poets’ proper – War Poets, moreover, whose poems appear to express distinctly anti-war attitudes. Two of the most famous literary casualties of 1915 were Rupert Brooke and August Stramm. This article will discuss some of their war poems and will use these poems to illustrate the enormous formal and thematic range war poetry can, and does, cover. In the process, it will also suggest that recent comparative approaches to British and French World War I poetry, and to the presence or otherwise of an identifiable group of War Poets in national literatures, should be extended so as to include German examples.
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret (1862)
2020, Mergenthal, Silvia
This contribution situates Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s novel Lady Audley’s Secret at the interface of Victorian constructions of gender and genre. As to the former, gender, it shows how the protagonist of Braddon’s novel, the eponymous Lady Audley, appears to be the embodiment of ideal Victorian femininity, but only because she has been indoctrinated in its script from an early age. Considering the latter, genre, Lady Audley’s Secret is discussed as a prototypical example of a ‘sensation novel’, and this subgenre is compared to other fictional conventions such as the Gothic novel, the Newgate novel, and the novel of domestic realism. In this context, the article also reviews Victorian publication strategies such as serialisation. Finally, the concluding section provides a brief survey of critical approaches to Braddon’s novel, again foregrounding those approaches which privilege questions of gender and genre.