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Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy
Samuel Beckett and the Ends of Literature
Arguing that Beckett's understanding of subjectivity cannot be reduced to that of phenomenology or existential humanism, Thomas Trezise offers a major reinterpretation of Beckett in light of Freud and such post-modernists as Bataille, Blanchot, and Derrida. Through extended comparisons of Beckett's trilogy of novels with the writings of these thinkers, he emphasizes a "general economy" of signification that both produces and dispossesses the phenomenological self. Trezise shows how Beckett's work defines literature as an instance within this economy and in so doing challenges traditional conceptions of literature itself and of the subject.
The undoing of historical time in an abyssal repetition, the involvement of the subject with an impersonal alterity, the priority of error, the understanding of art as an inspired failure--at once an impossibility and an imperative rather than an act of freedom and power--all underscore Beckett's contribution to a form of thought radically irreducible to phenomenology as well as to existential humanism. Trezise suggests that Beckett's own literary corpus be considered an exploration of the breach that this artistic failure opens in traditional philosophical approaches to the human subject.
Originally published in 1990.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
The Sequential Fabric of the Fleurs du mal and Spleen de Paris
Montaigne’s Essays are treasured for their philosophical and moral insights and the fascinating portrait they give us of the man who wrote them, but another of their undoubted delights is that they tantalize the reader, offering beneath an apparent disorder some hints of a hidden plan. After all, though the essayist kept adding new pages, except when he added the third and final book, he never added a new chapter but worked within the structure already in place. Order in Disorder: Intratextual Symmetry in Montaigne’s “Essais,” by Randolph Paul Runyon, offers a new answer to the question of how ordered the Essays may be. Following up on Montaigne’s likening them to a painter’s “grotesques” surrounding a central image, and seeing in this an allusion to the ancient Roman decorative style, rediscovered in the Renaissance, of symmetrical motifs on either side of a central image, Runyon uncovers an extensive network of symmetrical verbal echoes linking every chapter with another. Often two chapters of greatly different length and apparent importance (one on thumbs, for instance, balanced against one on the limits of human understanding) will in this way be brought together—not without, Runyon finds, an intended irony. The Essays emerge as even more self-reflexive than we thought, an amazingly intratextual work.
Letters of Two Lovers Who Live in a Small Town at the Foot of the Alps
An elegant translation of one of the most popular novels of its time.
Rousseau's great epistolary novel, Julie, or the New Heloise, has been virtually unavailable in English since 1810. In it, Rousseau reconceptualized the relationship of the individual to the collective and articulated a new moral paradigm. The story follows the fates and smoldering passions of Julie d'Etange and St. Preux, a one-time lover who re-enters Julie's life at the invitation of her unsuspecting husband, M. de Wolmar.
The complex tones of this work made it a commercial success and a continental sensation when it first appeared in 1761, and its embodiment of Rousseau's system of thought, in which feelings and intellect are intertwined, redefined the function and form of fiction for decades. As the characters negotiate a complex maze of passion and virtue, their purity of soul and honest morality reveal, as Rousseau writes in his preface, "the subtleties of heart of which this work is full."
A comprehensive introduction and careful annotations make this novel accessible to contemporary readers, both as an embodiment of Rousseau's philosophy and as a portrayal of the tension and power inherent in domestic life.
Vol. 36 (1996) through current issue
Exploring all periods of French literature and thought, l'esprit créateur has been analyzing and documenting contemporary French and Francophone Studies for half a century. Contributors represent a variety of methodologies and critical approaches, and address literature, film, criticism, and culture.
Maurice Blanchot's Exilic Writing
Writing, Maurice Blanchot taught us, is not something that is in one's power. It is, rather, a search for a non-power that refuses mastery, order, and all established authority. For Blanchot, this search was guided by an enigmatic exigency, an arresting rupture, and a promise of justice that required endless contestation of every usurping authority, an endless going out toward the other."The step/not beyond" ("le pas au-delà") names this exilic passage as it took form in his influential later work, but not as a theme or concept, since its "step" requires a transgression of discursive limits and any grasp afforded by the labor of the negative. Thus, to follow "the step/not beyond" is to follow a kind of event in writing, to enter a movement that is never quite captured in any defining or narrating account.Last Steps attempts a practice of reading that honors the exilic exigency even as it risks drawing Blanchot's reflective writings and fragmentary narratives into the articulation of a reading. It brings to the fore Blanchot's exceptional contributions to contemporary thought on the ethico-political relation, language, and the experience of human finitude. It offers the most sustained interpretation of The Step Not Beyond available, with attentive readings of a number of major texts, as well as chapters on Levinas and Blanchot's relation to Judaism. Its trajectory of reading limns the meaning of a question from The Infinite Conversation that implies an opening and a singular affirmation rather than a closure: "How had he come to will the interruption of the discourse?"
Published between 1762 and 1765, these writings are the last works Rousseau wrote for publication during his lifetime. Responding in each to the censorship and burning of Emile and Social Contract, Rousseau airs his views on censorship, religion, and the relation between theory and practice in politics.
The Letter to Beaumont is a response to a Pastoral Letter by Christophe de Beaumont, Archbishop of Paris (also included in this volume), which attacks the religious teaching in Emile. Rousseau's response concerns the general theme of the relation between reason and revelation and contains his most explicit and boldest discussions of the Christian doctrines of creation, miracles, and original sin.
In Letters Written from the Mountain, a response to the political crisis in Rousseau's homeland of Geneva caused by a dispute over the burning of his works, Rousseau extends his discussion of Christianity and shows how the political principles of the Social Contract can be applied to a concrete constitutional crisis. One of his most important statements on the relation between political philosophy and political practice, it is accompanied by a fragmentary "History of the Government of Geneva."
Finally, "Vision of Peter of the Mountain, Called the Seer" is a humorous response to a resident of Motiers who had been inciting attacks on Rousseau during his exile there. Taking the form of a scriptural account of a vision, it is one of the rare examples of satire from Rousseau's pen and the only work he published anonymously after his decision in the early 1750s to put his name on all his published works. Within its satirical form, the "Vision" contains Rousseau's last public reflections on religious issues.
Neither the Letter to Beaumont nor the Letters Written from the Mountain has been translated into English since defective translations that appeared shortly after their appearance in French. These are the first translations of both the "History" and the "Vision."
The Inter-National Invention of the Novel
The Literary Channel defines a crucial transnational literary "zone" that shaped the development of the modern novel. During the first two centuries of the genre's history, Britain and France were locked in political, economic, and military struggle. The period also saw British and French writers, critics, and readers enthusiastically exchanging works, codes, and theories of the novel. Building on both nationally based literary history and comparatist work on poetics, this book rethinks the genre's evolution as marking the power and limits of modern cultural nationalism.
In the Channel zone, the novel developed through interactions among texts, readers, writers, and translators that inextricably linked national literary cultures. It served as a forum to promote and critique nationalist clichés, whether from the standpoint of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, the insurgent nationalism of colonized spaces, or the non-nationalized culture of consumption. In the process, the Channel zone promoted codes that became the genre's hallmarks, including the sentimental poetics that would shape fiction through the nineteenth century.
Uniting leading critics who bridge literary history and theory, The Literary Channel will appeal to all readers attentive to the future of literary studies, as well as those interested in the novel's development, British and French cultural history, and extra-national patterns of cultural exchange. Contributors include April Alliston, Emily Apter, Margaret Cohen, Joan DeJean, Carolyn Dever, Lynn Festa, Françoise Lionnet, Deidre Shauna Lynch, Sharon Marcus, Richard Maxwell, and Mary Helen McMurran.