Phoenix from the Ashes: The Literature of the Remade World

By Carl B. Yoke | Go to book overview

While the remade world stories are not necessarily realistic, they do offer a powerful metaphor for exploring man's relationships to his social structure, his values, and his fellow man.

While the sheer number of novels, short stories, and films using the remade world motif prohibits a complete examination of the form, the contributors to this volume have attempted to cover the general questions raised by many of its principal works. Carl Goldberg, for example, explores the psychological motives of writers who remake the world in their stories. C. W. Sullivan defines the parameters of postcatastrophe literature, Paul Brians discusses the responsibility of the scientist and the role of science in the literature, Joe Sanders examines flood motif stories, and William Lomax discusses character and myth in the genre and takes an intriguing look at the cuckoo motif. Nadine St. Louis, Edgar Chapman, Donna DeBlasio, Thomas P. Dunn, Carolyn Wendell, Gregory Shreve, Judith Kerman, Michael Collings, Joseph Francavilla, Theodore Steinberg, and Harold Prosser, while examining specific works and specific authors, also address such general questions as the nature of the world and of human relationships after the catastrophe. Wyn Wachhorst, David Desser, and Dunn (in a second chapter) examine the postcatastrophe film.


NOTES
1.
This line is variously translated. Most authorized versions of the Bible, including the King James and the New Oxford Bible, use the word "sand," but "phoenix" seems to fit better the concept according to the editors of Funk and Wagnalls' Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend.
2.
In this chapter, "rebirth," "renewal" and "regeneration" are used interchangeably.
3.
Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, ed. Maria Leach ( New York: Harper & Row, 1972), pp. 868-69.
4.
Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces ( Princeton, N.J.: Bollingen Series, 1973), p. 114.
6.
The terms "postcatastrophe literature" and "remade world literature" should be understood as being synonymous throughout this collection.
7.
Mircea Eliade, Myth and Reality, trans. Willard R. Trask ( New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1975), p. 54. For an excellent discussion of why primitive man needed to renew the world, see especially the chapters entitled "Myths and Renewal Rites" and "Eschatology and Cosmogony."
8.
Peter Nicholls, "Holocaust and After," in The Science Fiction Encyclopedia, ed. Peter Nicholls ( Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979), pp. 290-91.
9.
Gary K. Wolfe, "The Remaking of Zero: Beginning at the End," in The End of the World, ed. Eric Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D. Oleander ( Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983), p. 8.
10.
These transformations are those of Teun Van Djik, who provides an excellent discussion of the problems of textual transformations in his book Some Aspects of Text Grammars: A Study in Theoretical Linguistics and Poetics ( The Hague, the Netherlands:

-10-

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