By Jonathan Wisenthal et al. (eds.)

ISBN-10: 0802088015

ISBN-13: 9780802088017

Best referred to as the tale from the 1904 Puccini opera, the compelling glossy fantasy of Madame Butterfly has been learn, watched, and re-interpreted for over a century, from Pierre Loti's 1887 novel Madame Chrysanthème to A.R. Gurney's 1999 play Far East. This interesting collaborative quantity examines the Madame Butterfly narrative in a large choice of cultural contexts - literary, musical, theatrical, cinematic, historic, and political - and in a number of media - opera, drama, movie, and prose narratives - and comprises contributions from quite a lot of educational disciplines, resembling Asian reviews, English Literature, Theatre, Musicology, and picture Studies.

From its unique colonial beginnings, the Butterfly tale has been became approximately and inverted in recent times to shed gentle again at the nature of the connection among East and West, final well known in its unique model in addition to in retellings resembling David Henry Hwang's play M. Butterfly and David Cronenberg's display variation. The mixed views that consequence from this collaboration supply new and demanding insights into the robust, resonant fable of a painful stumble upon among East and West.

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Additional info for A Vision of the Orient: Texts, Intertexts, and Contexts of Madame Butterfly

Sample text

Those responsible for its longevity have apparently derived other pleasures from it than those I might want to offer at this late date in its history. I can claim the right to my self-empowering feminist, postcolonial reading, but I cannot argue very productively that the opera has always been understood in this fashion. But at least Carner and others grapple with the problematic parts of Puccini’s opera, if only to reject potential criticisms in advance as inappropriate. Another approach involves bracketing the content and luxuriating in the technical details of the score.

A useful summary of the controversy appeared in Denise Hamilton, ‘Zorn’s “Garden” Sprouts Discontent,’ Los Angeles Times, Calendar section, 15 August 1994: 9. 25 Film historian Nick Browne argues along similar lines in his remarkable study of the spate of silent films based on the story of ‘Madame Butterfly,’ which gained cultural prestige through their connections to the opera. ’ 26 See Treitler 23–45, who regards the discussion of gender and racial stereotypes in music as responsible for these pernicious binarisms.

In studying widely varied expressions of the Madame Butterfly story, one can gain insights into ways in which the tellings and retellings of this powerful modern myth can shift and take new shapes, in response to different media and different social and political contexts – as the essays that follow will demonstrate. Notes 1 In his notes to M. Butterfly David Henry Hwang writes: ‘I use the term “Oriental” specifically to denote an exotic or imperialistic view of the East’ ([1989] 95). So do we, throughout our volume.

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A Vision of the Orient: Texts, Intertexts, and Contexts of Madame Butterfly by Jonathan Wisenthal et al. (eds.)


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