Latest Additions

These are the articles recently published. Original replies, which can start off a debate, are listed with their abstracts. Please note that responding articles do not have separate abstracts.



Marx’s scholia: Annotations Involving Classical and Renaissance Texts in Capital1)

William E. Engel, Connotations, Vol. 29: 189-219.


My essay looks at the annotations in the first English printing of Karl Marx’s Capital, volume 1 (planned by Marx even as he was finishing the book in German, edited by Friedrich Engels and published in 1886). Much can be learned from tracking Marx’s use of literary texts in his footnotes, a practice that best can be understood in the context of his classical rhetorical training such that his annotations both contribute to and, as a kind of counter discourse, reflect the larger dialectical process carried out in his critique of political philosophy. My paper narrows the aperture on Marx’s wide reading to focus specifically on the rhetorical value he obviously accorded to Homer, Aristotle, Thucydides, Plato, Xenophon, Virgil, Thomas More, Francis Bacon, and Shakespeare.

Even though Marx is not writing a literary text as such, I argue that he is in fact doing a fair amount of literary criticism—all tucked away in his notes, going so far as to quote long passages from key works in the classical tradition and from the English Renaissance that he then annotates. In this regard he is, quite literally, the first Marxist literary critic. Marx was far more well read and literarily oriented than many readers realize, mainly because less attention tends to be paid to what is “below the line” on the printed page. My project brings the bottom-matter to light and explores just how literary Capital actually is. Although this may sound a bit perverse, nonetheless it also is true.


Revisiting the History of the De Doctrina Christiana Authorship Debate and Its Ramifications for Milton Scholarship: A Response to Falcone and Kerr2)

David V. Urban, Connotations, Vol. 29: 156-188.


This essay details the history of the De Doctrina Christiana authorship controversy, suggesting that the debate’s conclusion in favor of Miltonic provenance was declared prematurely. It considers Falcone’s and Kerr’s recent essays in light of the larger controversy and proposes that one consequence of the larger debate should be the liberty for scholars to analyze Milton’s theological presentations in his poetry apart from the specter of DDC.


Annotation as an Embedded Textual Practice: Some Further Comments in Response to Lena Linne and Burkhard Niederhoff

Richard Dury, Connotations, Vol. 29: 142-155.


The present article, in dialogue with Lena Linne and Burkhard Niederhoff’s recent article in Connotations, presents writing explanatory notes as an art, involving a feeling of what is right. In the first part, it discusses some of Linne and Niederhoff’s points about how explanatory notes are read and their advice on composition that derives from this. A modification is suggested to their recommendation that notes should be “as self-effacing as possible” to that they should be simply “self-effacing,” as some element of personality will always emerge. Similarly it is suggested that “as concise as possible” could be modified to “concisely-formulated.” Their comparison of notes to a detour on a journey is a good guide to avoid excessive length and irrelevance, although even a longish note can be read without disturbance if taken at a natural break in the reading. The authors also mention the possibility of notes in the form of extended commentary between annotation and the critical essay, and to their examples another is proposed: the “annotated edition,” inspired by The Annotated Alice of 1960.

The second part takes the examples from Dury (2005) quoted by Linne and Niederhoff to see how, guided by the authors’ comments, these would be rewritten by Dury in 2020. The actions here involve greater concision, removal of interpretation, moving a note to a more relevant point of the text, and provision of additional information to clarify. In the penultimate example, a final interpretative comment in the area of genre conventions is preferred to leaving the reader with a series of comments on ambiguity. In the last example, an accepted difference over interpretation is handled by using modality to present the explanation as not final.


Form and Spiritual Content in the Poetry of George Herbert and Henry Vaughan: A Response to Jonathan Nauman

Robert Wilcher, Connotations, Vol. 29: 129-141.


Jonathan Nauman makes a fine job of demonstrating how Herbert sought to express the operation of divine grace in poetry by integrating meaning and form. I take issue, however, with his argument that Vaughan’s reliance upon imitatio prevented him from sustaining a similarly creative prosody in his own work. He devised original ways of matching form with content not only in simple quatrains and complex stanzas, but also in irregular organic structures that reflected the turbulent spiritual experiences that distinguish his poetry from the calmer narrative art of Herbert.


Milton’s Consistency: An Answer to Jason Kerr

Filippo Falcone, Connotations, Vol. 29: 125-128.


In his “Shifting Perspectives on Law in De Doctrina Christiana: A Response to Filippo Falcone,” Jason Kerr makes a convincing case for De Doctrina Christiana as in itself dynamic and discontinuous as the expression of Milton’s Scripture-related intent and evolving theological thought. In the following answer to Kerr, Falcone argues for that same dynamicity and discontinuitiy as incompatible with the consistency of Milton’s undisputed works.


Hamlet and the Limits of Euphuism: A Response to Frederick Kiefer

Roland Weidle, Connotations, Vol. 29: 115-124.


The response paper challenges Frederick Kiefer’s argument that the euphuistic quality of Hamlet’s “What a piece of work is a man”-speech can be held accountable for its ambiguity. It argues instead that Hamlet’s speech is not as euphuistic as Kiefer claims and that the ambiguity of the speech is less related to its presumed euphuistic nature but rather to Hamlet’s use of irony throughout the play.


The Praise of Cosmopolitanism: The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville

Daniel Thomières, Connotations, Vol. 29: 77-114.


This essay is an attempt at reconstructing the logic underlying The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville. Its main focus will be on the function of the Cosmopolitan who represents a key dimension which has sadly been very little studied. The novel will be seen as the locus of a philosophical experiment in which Melville tries to determine how far an individual can go in order to be fully free and fulfill his or her inner potential as much as possible. Among the numerous manners of approaching The Confidence-Man, the essay will choose an anti-idealistic tradition going from Heraclitus to Deleuze through Spinoza, Nietzsche and William James and stressing the radically immanent nature of the world in which we live and the problems raised when one wishes to invent a new conception of faith or confidence.


Annotation as an Embedded Textual Practice: Analysing Explanatory Notes in Three Editions of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Lena Linne and Burkhard Niederhoff, Connotations, Vol. 29: 48-76.


The present article has two parts. The first part (sections 2 to 5) compares and reviews the explanatory notes in three recent editions of R. L. Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The editors are Richard Dury (Edizioni C. I. Genova 1993), Katherine Linehan (Norton 2003), and Roger Luckhurst (OUP 2006). The three sets of notes differ considerably in number, length, choice of lemmata, and style. They also differ in the kinds of comment they offer. All three annotators provide problem-solving notes that paraphrase difficult words, trace quotations, or explain topical references. Luckhurst and Dury, however, also write interpretive notes that point out symbols and thematic patterns. While some of these inter­pretive notes are illuminating, others are distracting or misleading. Inter­pre­tive annotation is also questionable because it cannot be carried out in a consistent and exhaustive fashion.

The second part of the article (section 6) underpins our scepticism about inter­pre­tive annotation with a more general argument. This argument is based on a distinction between the critical essay on the one hand and annotation on the other. While the critical essay is a response to a literary text and is read independently, reading a note is an embedded activity, subordinate to the reading of the literary text. If reading a literary text may be compared to a journey, consulting a note is like a detour in that journey. Consequently, notes should be reader-oriented and self-effacing. They should provide the necessary information succinctly and clearly, making the reader’s detour in his or her textual journey as brief as possible. An­notators who take this approach will focus on the problem-solving notes and avoid free-wheeling and speculative interpretation.


Understanding (Through) Annotations: Introductory Remarks3)

Matthias Bauer and Angelika Zirker, Connotations, Vol. 29: 34-47.


This article introduces the special issue on “Understanding (Through) Annotations” and addresses the two topics that are fused into one by means of the brackets in its title, namely (1) the understanding of annotations, of what kind they are and how they are attached to texts, and (2) the understanding through or by means of annotations, their specific hermeneutic function. It assumes that the reflection on annotations furthers our insight into methods and functions of close reading, while, at the same time, also considering the functions of annotations in teaching. One of its major claims concerns the relevance of annotations to a text as a whole as well as the passage it immediately refers to. By positing a number of provocative examples and hypotheses it invites the critical debate on all matters related to annotations and their connotations.


Out of Place: Looking for Donne in London — A Response to Theresa M. DiPasquale

Anita Gilman Sherman, Connotations, Vol. 29: 24-33.


What does the literary pilgrim seek when visiting Donne’s funeral monument in Saint Paul’s Cathedral? How do spatial practices affect the traveler’s experience of sites in Donnean memory? A poetics of place that accounts for the attraction of “truth-spots” must consider commercial and political interests as well as aesthetic and sensory factors.