Human Rights, Suffering, and Aesthetics in Political Prison Literature

Human Rights, Suffering, and Aesthetics in Political Prison Literature

Human Rights, Suffering, and Aesthetics in Political Prison Literature

9780739167410

Rowman & Littlefield Group

    Wu, Yenna

    Livescu, Simona

    16-Jun-2011

    Hardback

S$88.96

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Interest in prisons, particularly in the US, has been increasing in the past ten years or so, but for the most part the interest has led to scholarly or popular books detailing the extent of incarceration. Works devoted to prison writing have tended to be anthologies--among the recent ones, Bell Gale's Doing Time (2011). The current volume is surprising in that Wu (comparative and Chinese literature, Univ. of California, Riverside) and Livescu (PhD candidate, UCLA) focus on the aesthetics of past and present political prison literature, from Mao's forced-labor camps to Morocco's gender-biased justice system. The "aesthetics" in general--whether marked by decentered "rhizomatous forces" (to quote Wu) or articulating a quest for freedom--is seen in relation to the central problem of the material: the inexpressibility of the political prisoner's experience. Steering clear of broad sociological theories about repression or authoritarianism, the essays have a laudable sobriety, treating prison writings as imperfect evocations of torture, attempts at resistance, and even expressions of happiness in captivity. The wide geographical scope of the volume adds to the sense of objectivity. A fascinating and welcome book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; faculty; general readers.

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