Once Upon a Time:
Nostalgic Narratives in Transition
This anthology explores narratives in the spirit of a nostalgic methodology, thus revealing unexpected and unfamiliar aesthetic and political dimensions of our present moment’s diverse transient textual communications. The collection includes nostalgic analyses of the life writing of Vladimir Nabokov and Orhan Pamuk, transnational and transracial adoption narratives, the poetry of Tony Harrison and Lars Gustafsson, nostalgic representations of Europe by American artists such as Mary Maxwell and Woody Allen, contemporary nostalgic commemorations of The First World War, Fred Boot’s musical Soldier of Orange, Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle, the Harry Potter series, and two seminal nostalgic films from the 1970s, American Graffiti and The Last Picture Show.
Nostalgia is increasingly recognised as a key symptom – and consequence – of modernity's accelerated lifestyles and temporalities. Once upon a Time adds extensively to understanding of its literary manifestations, through essays which are wide-ranging in the contexts they address and impressively incisive in the analyses they offer. - Randall Stevenson, Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature, University of Edinburgh
The past has never seemed further away. The many tomorrows inherent in every new technology, product, and digitally mediated event drive us further away from our collective and individual histories. Yet our present seems nonetheless stubbornly rooted in the past, a past that has been dying very slowly for a very long time. Nostalgia, then, appears increasingly to be a modality with major potential for understanding how our now is shaped by our then, both individually and collectively. The past may be a foreign country but it is also inescapably our homeland, the place from which we attempt to emigrate but return to again and again is a series of personal and cultural nostalgic voyages which shape the line and weight of our own times and places. From the cinema to the TV screen, from the pages of the latest best-selling novel to the lines of the obscure academic poet, the powerful emotional and intellectual impact of the set of emotions, ideas, and associations linked to nostalgia are critical compositional devices.
To ignore this element of our aesthetic culture, or to condemn it outright as politically naïve and intellectually regressive, would be to miss, and thus misread, substantial portions of contemporary culture. Nostalgia and the nostalgic analysis of cultural products have enormous potential to help us understand the present.
Niklas Salmose is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Linnaeus University, Sweden. He is an active member of the Linnaeus University Center for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies (IMS). His recent publications include work on F. Scott Fitzgerald, animal horror, translation, nostalgia and modernism, Nordic Noir, Alfred Hitchcock, and the Anthropocene. He is presently guest editing a special issue on contemporary nostalgia for the journal Humanities.
Eric Sandberg is an Assistant Professor at City University of Hong Kong and a Docent at the University of Oulu, Finland. His research interests range from modernism to the twenty-first century novel. His monograph Virginia Woolf: Experiments in Character was published in 2014, he co-edited Adaptation, Awards Culture, and the Value of Prestige (Palgrave, 2017), and edited 100 Greatest Literary Detectives (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).