Allegories of Writing

The Subject of Metamorphosis

By Bruce Clarke

Subjects: Literary Criticism
Series: SUNY series, The Margins of Literature
Paperback : 9780791426241, 204 pages, August 1995
Hardcover : 9780791426234, 204 pages, August 1995

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Table of contents



1. Writing as the Daemonic

2. History of Metamorphic Allegory

3. Metamorphic Subjects


Transformations of Affect
Shame and Disappearance
Political Economy


4. Fabulous Monsters


The Insect
The Basilisk


5. The Gender of Metamorphosis


The Apuleian Psyche
Circe's Metamorphoses
The Changeling Boy
Lamia's First Life
The Vehicular Female
The Crone





This is a theoretical study of human metamorphosis in Western literature.


Allegories of Writing presents the first full synthesis of allegory theory and literary metamorphosis. It examines the leading themes and the literary transformations of metamorphic narratives. By applying current theories of the text and the subject to metamorphic tales from Homer, Plato, and Apuleius to Keats, Kafka, and Calvino, this book recovers the critical force of metamorphosis in secular Western literature.

The author clarifies the cultural history of literary metamorphosis from the perspective of allegory theory. At the core of the study are the connections among Plato's Phaedrus, Apuleius's Golden Ass, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Keats's Lamia. Other primary texts are arranged around this core by their significant participation in the ironic literary deployment of metamorphic devices.

Bruce Clarke is Associate Professor of English at Texas Tech University.


"Clarke succeeds in linking authors from Plato through Calvino by drawing attention to details that one would not normally notice, and then interpreting them in such a way as to make their relevance apparent. " — Irving Massey, State University of New York at Buffalo