Sunday, May 1, 2016

Best of John Kennedy Toole Scholarship #13: Zaenker Hrotsvit

As I said in June 2013, I would like to offer an annotated bibliography, one citation at a time, of the best of the scholarship on Toole's Confederacy that is findable via MLA Bibliography (as opposed to obscure). Here is item number thirteen:

Citation: Zaenker, Karl A. “Hrotsvit and the Moderns: Her Impact on John Kennedy Toole and Peter Hacks.” In Hrotsvit of Gandersheim: Rara Avis in Saxonia? Edited by Katharina M. Wilson. Ann Arbor: Marc, 1987, 275-285.

Annotation: Zaenker argues that Ignatius represents the opposite of Hrotsvit’s ascetic ideals. His cloister is a place of masturbation and orgies of junk food. Ignatius’s pamphlet defending Hrotsvit indicates that Toole knew about the Aschbach controversy of the nineteenth century, which claimed that she did not exist. However, the typical Hrotsvit plot is “the holy man descending into the den of iniquity and saving a fallen woman from prostitution” (278), and Confederacy ends with a parody of it. Zaenker concludes that Ignatius’s world is without transcendence, and the parody indicates that the secularization of that world is complete (279). Ignatius’s medievalism is a result of his psychosis. Zaenker's essay ignores Ignatius’s scapegoat role and his Neoplatonism in drag, but it is basically a good article that adds to the list of authors whom Toole references.

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