Night Passages: Philosophy, Literature, and Film

Night Passages: Philosophy, Literature, and Film

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by Elisabeth Bronfen
     
 

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In the beginning was the night. All light, shapes, language, and subjective consciousness, as well as the world and art depicting them, emerged from this formless chaos. In fantasy, we seek to return to this original darkness. Particularly in literature, visual representations, and film, the night resiliently resurfaces from the margins of the knowable, acting as a

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Overview

In the beginning was the night. All light, shapes, language, and subjective consciousness, as well as the world and art depicting them, emerged from this formless chaos. In fantasy, we seek to return to this original darkness. Particularly in literature, visual representations, and film, the night resiliently resurfaces from the margins of the knowable, acting as a stage and state of mind in which exceptional perceptions, discoveries, and decisions play out.

Elisabeth Bronfen investigates the nocturnal spaces in which extraordinary events unfold, and casts a critical eye into the darkness that enables the irrational exploration of desire, transformation, ecstasy, transgression, spiritual illumination, and moral choice. She begins with an analysis of classical myths depicting the creation of the world and then moves through night scenes in Shakespeare and Milton, Gothic novels and novellas, Hegel's romantic philosophy, and Freud's psychoanalysis. Bronfen also demonstrates how modern works of literature and film, particularly film noir, can convey that piece of night the modern subject carries within. From Mozart's "Queen of the Night" to Virginia Woolf 's oscillation between day and night, life and death, and chaos and aesthetic form, Bronfen renders something visible, conceivable, and comprehensible from the dark realms of the unknown.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

CHOICE

[A] brilliantly idiosyncratic study...

Times Literary Supplement - Matthew Beaumont

[A] sprawling meditation on the meanings of the night; it is full of restless, probing insights.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231147989
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
09/10/2013
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

David Punter

Bronfen moves between the realms of philosophy, literature, psychoanalysis, and music with innovative reflections on myth and its aftermath. Night Passages is a critical classic with insight into the arrangement of Europe's major languages, linguistic homogeneity and heterogeneity, and relations between Eurocentricity and diaspora.

William Sharpe

Elisabeth Bronfen's Night Passages will take readers not only to the end of the night, but to its beginnings and middle as well. The nocturnal world of the ancient Greeks, of Shakespeare, Hegel, Freud, and film noir, of Mozart, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, and Virginia Woolf, of E. T. A. Hoffmann and Martin Scorsese--it is all here. No other work deals so profoundly with what the human mind has imagined about life between sunset and sunrise. Written for anyone who wants to explore night's aura, lore, cultural, and philosophical resonances, this book will open your eyes to the power of darkness--there are new discoveries to be made on every page. Robert Frost wrote that he was 'acquainted with the night,' but Elisabeth Bronfen knows it through and through.

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