Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Modern reinterpretations of the cuckold
by Levin, Janina, Ph.D., Temple University, 2010, 160; 3423268
Abstract (Summary)

The cuckold has been a neglected character in Western literary history, subject to derision and often cruel comic effects. Yet three major modern novelists portrayed the cuckold as a protagonist: Gustave Flaubert in Madame Bovary, Henry James in The Golden Bowl, and James Joyce in Ulysses. This study compares their portrayal of the cuckold with medieval storytellers' portrayal of him in the fabliau tales. The comparison shows that modern writers used the cuckold to critique Enlightenment modes of knowing, such as setting up territorial boundaries for emerging disciplines and professions. Modern writers also attributed a greater value than medieval writers did to the cuckold's position as a non-phallic man, because he allowed his wife sexual freedom. Finally, they saw the cuckold as the other side of the artist; through him, they explore the possibility that the Everyman can be a vehicle for reflected action, rather than heroic action. This study combines Lacanian psychoanalysis with narratology to analyze the cuckold as a subject and as a compositional resource for modern novelists.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brivic, Sheldon
Commitee: Caserio, Robert L., Delany, Samuel, Logan, Peter
School: Temple University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Modern literature
Keywords: Betrayal, Comic effects, Cuckold, Lacanian psychoanalysis, Narratology, Reflector, Stupidity, Western literary history
Publication Number: 3423268
ISBN: 9781124240176
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