Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age

Overview

Confronting the dilemmas of modernist and postmodernist thought, Roger Kimball in this new collection of his work explores the literary and philosophical underpinnings of modernity as well as the state of our culture today. Experiments Against Reality displays the sophistication, breadth of knowledge, and clarity of argument that have made Mr. Kimball one of the most trenchant critics of our contemporary culture. He begins by considering the influential poet and theorist T. E. Hulme, and shows how the work of ...
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Overview

Confronting the dilemmas of modernist and postmodernist thought, Roger Kimball in this new collection of his work explores the literary and philosophical underpinnings of modernity as well as the state of our culture today. Experiments Against Reality displays the sophistication, breadth of knowledge, and clarity of argument that have made Mr. Kimball one of the most trenchant critics of our contemporary culture. He begins by considering the influential poet and theorist T. E. Hulme, and shows how the work of Eliot, Auden, Wallace Stevens, Robert Musil, Elias Canetti, and others can be seen as efforts to articulate a convincing alternative to the intellectual and spiritual desolations of the age. Turning to the philosophical tradition, Mr. Kimball suggests how figures from Mill and Nietzsche to Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Heidegger, Foucault, and Roger Scruton have addressed — or in many cases evaded — the defining moral imperatives of modernity. Finally he steps back to consider more generally the career of contemporary culture — the trivializing nature of the contemporary art world; the academic attack on historical truth and scientific rationality; the fate of the "two cultures" controversy. "Enlightenment," Mr. Kimball writes, "sought to emancipate man by liberating reason and battling against superstition. But reason liberated entirely from tradition has turned out to be rancorous and hubristic — in short, something irrational." Experiments Against Reality offers continuing evidence of Mr. Kimball's stature as one of our most important cultural critics.
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Editorial Reviews

Hudson Review
A model of investigative advocacy of argumentation, principles, and responsibility...a superb performance.
— Robert McDowell
New York Times Book Review
A scathing critic but one whose tirades are usually justified...his intellectual rigor is refreshing.
— Catherine Saint Louis
Frederick Morgan
Will be required reading for those who want a significant perspective on how and why our contemporary culture got to be the way it is.
John Gross
Stylish, richly allusive, and immensely readable...an invaluable collection.
Times Literary Supplement - Gertrude Himmelfarb
One of the most candid and perceptive critics of American culture.
Hudson Review - Robert McDowell
A model of investigative advocacy of argumentation, principles, and responsibility...a superb performance.
The New York Times - Catherine Saint Louis
A scathing critic but one whose tirades are usually justified...his intellectual rigor is refreshing.
John Simon
His position is conservative but not reactionary, humanistic but not populist, fresh but never trendy.
Martin Gardner
A book you will relish and applaud. Roger Kimball's essays on recent poets and thinkers...are as wise as they are elegantly written.
Times Literary Supplement
One of the most candid and perceptive critics of American culture.
— Gertrude Himmelfarb
The New York Times
A scathing critic but one whose tirades are usually justified...his intellectual rigor is refreshing.
— Catherine Saint Louis
Gertrude Himmelfarb
One of the most candid and perceptive critics of American culture.
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
Robert Mcdowell
A model of investigative advocacy of argumentation, principles, and responsibility...a superb performance.
HUDSON REVIEW
Booknews
Most of the 17 essays are revisions of articles that have appeared in , for which Kimball is the managing editor. They explore the literary and philosophical underpinnings of modernity and the state of western culture. Among his topics are the first half of Muriel Spark, the legacy of Nietzsche, and the trivialization of outrage. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Louis
Even if you do not agree with Kimball that our civilization is ''bent on cultural suicide,'' his intellectual rigor is refreshing. Experiments Against Reality demonstrates what criticism can be if you take away all the theoretical scaffolding inherent in, say, a deconstructionist, structuralist or feminist reading.
New York Times Book Review
Mary Lefkowitz
An informative and intelligent book [that] gives an excellent account of a cultural crisis in the United States.
Times Literary Supplement
New York Times
A scathing critic but one whose tirades are usually justified...his intellectual rigor is refreshing.
— Catherine Saint Louis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566634304
  • Publisher: Ivan R Dee
  • Publication date: 3/1/2002
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger Kimball is managing editor of the New Criterion and an art critic for the London Spectator. His other books include Lives of the Mind, Experiments Against Reality, The Long March, and Tenured Radicals. He lives in South Norwalk, Connecticut.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Experiments Against Reality 1
Art v. Aestheticism: The Case of Walter Pater 27
The Importance of T. E. Hulme 45
A Craving for Reality: T. S. Eliot Today 61
Wallace Stevens: Metaphysical Claims Adjuster 84
The Permanent Auden 95
The First Half of Muriel Spark 113
The Qualities of Robert Musil 132
James Fitzjames Stephen v. John Stuart Mill 159
The Legacy of Friedrich Nietzsche 189
The World According to Sartre 214
The Perversions of Michel Foucault 237
The Anguishes of E. M. Cioran 258
The Trivialization of Outrage 277
"The Two Cultures" Today 305
Francis Fukuyama and the End of History 319
Josef Pieper: Leisure and Its Discontents 335
Index 351
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