Pleasures of Literary Spatiality

Expanding and Contracting Settings


In stock

About the Book

Barring such illnesses as claustrophobia or agoraphobia, or situations such as medical isolation or incarceration, most people move naturally from smaller to larger spaces and back again without giving the process much thought. But paying attention to our own movement in space yields all sorts of sensory experiences from something relaxing to something terrifying or even astonishingly beautiful. Our sense of expandable/contractible space can influence how we process everything from Japanese gardens to mountain hikes and desert expanses.
Writers often expand or contract spaces around their characters for dramatic effect, character building, and even thematic purposes. Marie de France used expanded spaces for adventure and travel and contracted spaces first for romance, and then for spiritual devotion. Chaucer used expanded spaces for adventure, pilgrimage, and danger and contracted spaces for conviviality and storytelling. Dante and Milton created expansive cosmologies but focused on small spaces for both suffering and incredible spiritual achievement. This study of literary spatiality yields fascinating results, reflects useful techniques for reading, and reminds us of the value of all sorts of different approaches to analysis and artistic enjoyment.

About the Author(s)

E.L. Risden, emeritus professor of English at St. Norbert College, lives in De Pere, Wisconsin, where he continues to write literary and movie scholarship, speculative fiction, and occasional poetry.

Bibliographic Details

E.L. Risden
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 194
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9493-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5222-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: Some Thoughts on Ways of Knowing and Seeing 1
1. Some Ideas on Expandable/Contractible Space in Literary Contexts 5
2. Marie’s Lais and the Movement from Romantic to Religious Space 27
3. Place and the Contraction/Expansion of Space in Dante’s Commedia 43
4. Expandable/Contractible Space in the Canterbury Tales: Some Theoretical Measures from Beyond the French Fringe 58
5. Boundaries, Virtue, and a Spatiality of Romance: Love, Adventure, and Magic in The Faerie Queene, Le Morte Darthur, and Sir Gawain the Green Knight 79
6. Shakespeare’s Henry V: The Stage as Space, Place, and Mind 105
7. Paradise Lost and the Physical/Spiritual Implications of Expandable/Contractible Space 118
8. Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and the Expandable/Contractible Space of ­Upper-Class Satire 136
9. Tolkien and Spatiality: What Expandable and Contractible Space Suggests in The Lord of the Rings 151
10. Horizontal and Vertical Space and the Renaissance Mind 168
Bibliography 181
Index 185