In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

372Philosophy and Literature Kierkegaard and the Dialectics ofModernism, byJörgen S. Veisland; i & 250 pp. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1985, $32.50. There is a large cast of characters in this book that includes Kierkegaard, Freud, Marx, Georg Lukacs, Herbert Marcuse, FredricJameson, Knut Hamsun , JamesJoyce, Tom Kristensen, WiUiam Faulkner, Par Lagerkvist, Martin Hansen. Marxist dieory is the die and interpretations of Kierkegaard and Freud, on die one hand, and of selected works by the five modern novelists, on the other, are the coins stamped out by the relentless machine that is Kierkegaard and the Dialectics ofModernism. It is difficult to know in what country the coins may be circulated, but I suspect that Marxist aesthetics would be the land most glad to receive them. For unless one looks through die lens that sees history as the scene of a continuous development generated by a dialectical relation between human subjects and material objects or conditions, one is not apt to see die relation between, for example, the temporal, the eternal, and their synthesis in the moment, between body, soul, and die syntiiesized spirit in Kierkegaard, or the like trio of the instincts ofsex and death and the ego in Freud as exemplifying die dynamic (as opposed to merely logical) development that is history. A reader not already convinced of the power of Marx's lens is not going to be persuaded by the curious argument of die book. The argument is that Georg Lukac's interpretation of die modernist novel as depicting a static universe inhabited by solitary human beings who stand in no significant relations to dieir social environment or to odier people is wrong; diis interpretation is spoken of as die received Marxist criticism, no mention being made of the debate between Brecht and Lukacs in the 1930s. The contrary thesis is tiiat there is a dialectic within modern consciousness, one that is to be described in the modern novel. Modern consciousness "is endowed with a selfreflective dialogue intended to demystify the Ulusory world of the subject and restore meaning to the world of the protagonist" (p. 4). The dialectic in the modern novel is widiin die subject itself, and irony is the "contradiction" uiat generates die development and change in die relation between the hero and his subjective world and between die world of die novel and the social world. Irony exists in the modern novel bodi in the immanence in the text of die approximation ofdie consciousness ofdie hero to that of die narrator or implied audior and in die novel's aim "to discard the literary material itself, to reject the literary content and form as being unsuitable for the attainment of meaning" (p. 6). The next step in the development of modern consciousness is, then, supposed to be the conclusion uiat meaning has to be created outside the fictional space, i.e., in the real world. Anodier country in which to circulate die coin stamped out by Kierkegaard and the Dialectics ofModernism is that of the theory of modernism. For uiis revision of Reviews373 modernism is of interest as part of a general revision that is proceeding apace with the articulation of a dieory of postmodernism, and die recuperation of modernism wiuiin Marxism is of interest so far as it bespeaks a self-criticism widiin Marxist aesthetics. But die argument for the revision is curious because one has trouble distinguishing premises from conclusions; one has trouble, that is to say, in tracing the circulation of the coins after they leave die Marxist mint. The introduction ends by saying uiat "any work of art is revolutionary in tiiat it represents an indictment ofestablished reality and creates the 'appearance oftiie image of liberation'" (pp. 35-36) and diat Kierkegaard and Freud wUl be analyzed "in order to further elucidate the emancipatory consciousness inherent in die work of art" (p. 37). The analyses are made from a dialectical point of view: the existential and psychoanalytic accounts of die development of consciousness are read precisely as dialectical stages in an emancipation, i.e., in die terms they are supposed to elucidate, and we are told that Kierkegaard at least must be read this way lest the dynamic aspect...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 372-373
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.