1st Edition

A Quest for Remembrance The Underworld in Classical and Modern Literature

Edited By Madeleine Scherer, Rachel Falconer Copyright 2020
    278 Pages
    by Routledge

    278 Pages
    by Routledge

    A Quest for Remembrance: The Underworld in Classical and Modern literature brings together a range of arguments exploring connections between the descent into the underworld, also known as katabasis, and various forms of memory. Its chapters investigate the uses of the descent topos both in antiquity and in the reception of classical literature in the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. In the process, the volume explores how the hero’s quest into the underworld engages with the theme of recovering memories from the past. At the same time, we aim to foreground how the narrative format itself is concerned with forms of commemoration ranging from trans-cultural memory, remembering the literary and intellectual canon, to commemorating important historical events that might otherwise be forgotten. Through highlighting this duality this collection aims to introduce the descent narrative as its own literary genre, a ‘memorious genre’ related to but distinct from the quest narrative.


    Introduction: The Long Descent into the Past
    Madeleine Scherer

    Chapter 1: The Even longer Descent: Notes on Genesis and Development of Ancient Egyptian Underworld Conceptions and their Interplay with Funerary Practice
    Jakob Schneider

    Chapter 2: Remembering in the Real World: Katabatic and Natural Deathscapes
    Joel Gordon

    Chapter 3: The Pestis Within: Concerns of the Underworld in Lucretius and Vergil
    Abigail Buglass

    Chapter 4: Memories of Rome’s Underworld in Lucan’s Civil War Narrative
    Eleonora Tola

    Chapter 5: The Open Door to Elysium in Lucian’s True History
    A. Everett Beek

    Chapter 6: ‘One of Marlow's inconclusive experiences’: The Katabatic Wisdom Tradition in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
    Karen Borg Cardona

    Chapter 7: ‘By My Voice I Shall Be Known’: T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and the Willing Voices of the Dead
    Yi-Chuang E. Lin

    Chapter 8: Katabasis: Ancient and Modern Desires for Heroic Memory
    Frances Foster

    Chapter 9: An Australian-made hell’: Postcolonial Katabasis in Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book

    Arnaud Barras

    Chapter 10: Memory and Forgetfulness in Seamus Heaney’s Virgilian Underworlds
    Rachel Falconer

    Chapter 11: ‘all must descend to where the stories are kept’: Textual Remembrance and Katabasis in Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad
    Madeleine Scherer

    List of Contributors



    Madeleine Scherer is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study and the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick, UK.

    Rachel Falconer is Professor and Chair of Modern English Literature at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland