How is it that some texts achieve the status of literature? Partly, at least, because the relationship they allow between their writers and the people who respond to them is fundamentally egalitarian. This is the insight explored by members of the Abo literary communication network, who in this new book develop fresh approaches to literary works of widely varied provenance. The authors examined have written in Ancient Greek, Tang Dynasty Chinese, Middle, Modern and Contemporary English, German, Romanian, Polish, Russian and Hebrew. But each and every one of them is shown as having offered their human fellows something which, despite some striking appearances to the contrary, amounts to a welcoming invitation. This their audiences have then been able to negotiate in a spirit of dialogical interchange.
Part I of the book poses the question: How, in offering their invitation, have writers respected their audiences' human autonomy? This is the province of what Abo scholars call "communicational criticism". Part II asks how an audience negotiating a literary invitation can be encouraged to respect the human autonomy of the writer who has offered it. In Abo parlance, such encouragement is the task of "mediating criticism". These two modes of criticism naturally complement each other, and in their shared concern for communicational ethics ultimately seek to further a post-postmodern world that would be global without being hegemonic.
1. List of figures; 2. Acknowledgements; 3. Contributors; 4. Introduction (by Sell, Roger D.); 5. Part I. Communicational criticism: Evaluating the invitations offered to audiences by writers; 6. Dialogue and dialogicity: Swift's A Modest Proposal and Plato's Crito (by Fishelov, David); 7. Silence and dialogue: The hermetic poetry of Wang Wei and Paul Celan (by Chen, Yi); 8. Multifaceted postmodernist dialogue: Julian Barnes's Talking It Over and Love, etc. (by Muzdeka, Nina); 9. Misunderstanding and embodied communication: The Comedy of Errors (by Castore, Antonio); 10. The dialogic potential of "literary autism": Caryl Phillips's Higher Ground (1989) and Marie NDiaye's Trois femmes puissantes (2009) (by Ledent, Benedicte); 11. Narrative and talk-back: Joseph Conrad's "Falk" (by Toker, Leona); 12. Part II. Mediating criticism: Helping audiences to negotiate writers' invitations; 13. The role of emotions in literary communication: Joyce's The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (by Muller-Wood, Anja); 14. In dialogue with the ageing Wordsworth (by Sell, Roger D.); 15. Rules of exchange in mediaeval plays and play manuscripts (by King, Pamela M.); 16. Subjectivity and the dialogic self: The Christian Orthodox poetry of Scott Cairns and Cristian Popescu (by Popescu, Carmen); 17. Dialogues with Whitman in Polish: From a series of translations, through a series of retextualizations, towards a reception series: (by Skwara, Marta Anna); 18. Dialogues of cultures and national identity: Reuven Asher Braudes' The Two Poles (by Rimon, Helena); 19. Early Romantic hopes of dialogue: Friedrich Schlegel's fragments (by Lejeune, Guillaume); 20. Index