Minor Prophecies: The Literary Essay in the Culture Wars

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Harvard University Press, 1991 - 252 Seiten

For most people literary criticism is a mystery that often seems inaccessible, written for an in-group. Even worse, a Battle of the Books has broken out between neoconservatives and neoradicals--all the more reason to steer clear of the fray. Geoffrey Hartman argues that ignoring the culture wars would be unwise, for what is at stake is the nature of the arts we prize and our obligation to remain civil and avoid the apocalyptic tone of most political prophecy.

Hartman's book is both a survey of the history of modern literary criticism and a strategic intervention. First he presents an account of the culture of criticism in the last one hundred years. He then widens the focus to provide a picture of the critical essay from 1700 to the present in order to show that a major change in style took place after 1950. Two chapters focus on F. R. Leavis and Paul de Man, central--and controversial--figures in academic criticism. Hartman attends to major developments on the continent and in Anglo-American circles that have disrupted the calm of what he calls the friendship or conversational style. On the one hand, critics and thinkers have pursued strange gods in order to enrich and sharpen their critical style. This change Hartman welcomes. On the other hand, along with a renewed interest in politics and historical speculation, a didactic and moralistic tone has again entered the scene. Hartman rejects this new moralism.

The author is an eloquent defender of reading the text of criticism as carefully as the text of literature. He argues for a broader conception of critical style, one that would support the open and conversational voice of the public critic as well as the inventive and innovative practice of the technical critic. Hartman sets before us an ideal of literary criticism that can acknowledge theory yet does not shrink from a sustained, text-centered response. Minor Prophecies is a major book by one of our finest critics.

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Minor prophecies: the literary essay in the culture wars

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Hartman (English and comparative literature, Yale) presents a historically directed commentary of the transformations in literary criticism and theory mainly of the past century. His series of ten ... Vollständige Rezension lesen

Inhalt

Pastoral Vestiges
1
The Culture of Criticism
17
Tea and Totality
57
Urheberrecht

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Über den Autor (1991)

Geoffrey H. Hartman was born in Frankfurt, Germany on August 11, 1929. In 1939, he was among the Jewish children evacuated from Nazi Germany as part of a Kindertransport. He spent the war years in England. After the war, he joined his mother in New York. He received a bachelor's degree in comparative literature from Queens College in 1949 and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Yale University in 1953. He taught English and comparative literature at the University of Iowa, Cornell University, and Yale University. He was a literary critic whose work took in the Romantic poets, Judaic sacred texts, Holocaust studies, deconstruction and the workings of memory. He wrote numerous books during his lifetime including Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814; Criticism in the Wilderness: The Study of Literature Today; Saving the Text: Literature, Derrida, Philosophy; Minor Prophecies: The Literary Essay in the Culture Wars; The Longest Shadow: In the Aftermath of the Holocaust; Scars of the Spirit: The Struggle Against Inauthenticity; and A Scholar's Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe. He received the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in 2006 for The Geoffrey Hartman Reader. He died on March 14, 2016 at the age of 86.

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