Ideology in Cold Blood: A Reading of Lucan's Civil War by Shadi Bartsch

By Shadi Bartsch

Is Lucan's tremendous and ugly epic Civil struggle an instance of ideological poetry at its such a lot flagrant, or is it a piece that despairingly publicizes the meaninglessness of ideology? Shadi Bartsch deals a startlingly new resolution to this break up debate at the Roman poet's magnum opus. Reflecting at the disintegration of the Roman republic within the wake of the civil struggle that begun in forty nine B.C., Lucan (writing in the course of the grim tyranny of Nero's Rome) recounts that fateful clash with a surprisingly ambiguous portrayal of his republican hero, Pompey. even though the tale is one in all a sad defeat, the language of his epic is extra frequently violent and nihilistic than heroic and tragic. And Lucan is oddly thinking about the photograph destruction of lives, the violation of human bodies--an curiosity paralleled in his deviant syntax and fragmented poetry. In an research that pulls on modern political concept starting from Hannah Arendt and Richard Rorty to the poetry of Vietnam veterans, in addition to on literary thought and old assets, Bartsch unearths within the paradoxes of Lucan's poetry either a political irony that responds to the universally perceived desire for, but suspicion of, ideology, and a recourse to the redemptive strength of storytelling. This clever and energetic publication contributes considerably to our knowing of Roman civilization and of poetry as a method of political expression.

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Or with the unconscious . . but also with narcissistic concern over self-maintenance and protection from ego-violation by others . . The most common symbol of boundary-ambiguity[,] it appears in connection with the boundary between life and death, consciousness and unconsciousness, male and female, and so on. Devouring and being devoured are associated with it, dying and being born, and everything that has to do with the edges of the body or with changes in its shape. 63 To be sure, other critics suggest quite different reasons for the existence of the snake passage.

Most in the end moves away from such speculations, reminding Copyright © 1997 The President and Fellows of Harvard College The Subject under Siege ⅐ 19 Ex a m Co py us that Lucan is a poet and not a philosopher, but I think there is more to be said where he left off. I would like to build on these insightful connections between body, text, and history, but in a different direction: not from the body outward to text and history, but rather inward to identity and personhood; and focusing not on Stoic notions of the dimensions of the soul but more generally on concepts and anxieties about the nature of the self that cut across cultures.

The grotesque image displays not only the outward but also the inner features of the body: blood, bowels, heart and other organs. The outward and inward features are often merged into one. (Bakhtin : , ) Ex a m Co The grotesque narrative, which is marked by ‘‘a self-conscious delight in spectacle and paradox’’ (McNeil : ), thus puts the body on display; even as it focuses on the ludic dimensions of talking about death, it uses bodily disintegration or violation to undermine (yet again) the category of the unitary self.

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