Literature, Life, and Modernity by Richard Eldridge, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Literature, Life, and Modernity

Literature, Life, and Modernity

by Richard Eldridge
     
 

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Richard Eldridge explores the ability of dense and formally interesting literature to respond to the complexities of modern life. Beyond simple entertainment, difficult modern works cultivate reflective depth and help their readers order and interpret their lives as subjects in relation to complex economies and technological systems. By imagining themselves in the

Overview

Richard Eldridge explores the ability of dense and formally interesting literature to respond to the complexities of modern life. Beyond simple entertainment, difficult modern works cultivate reflective depth and help their readers order and interpret their lives as subjects in relation to complex economies and technological systems. By imagining themselves in the role of the protagonist or the authorial persona, readers become immersed in structures of sustained attention, under which concrete possibilities of meaningful life, along with difficulties that block their realization, are tracked and clarified.

Literary form, Eldridge argues, generates structures of care, reflection, and investment within readers, shaping—if not stabilizing—their interactions with everyday objects and events. Through the experience of literary forms of attention, readers may come to think and live more actively, more fully engaging with modern life, rather than passively suffering it. Eldridge considers the thought of Descartes, Kant, Adorno, Benjamin, Stanley Cavell, and Charles Taylor in his discussion of Goethe, Wordsworth, Rilke, Stoppard, and Sebald, advancing a philosophy of literature that addresses our desire to read and the meaning and satisfaction that literary attention brings to our fragmented modern lives.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
An important book... Highly recommended.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231144544
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
08/28/2008
Series:
Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts Series
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Stanley Cavell
After an introduction generally canvassing many understandings of the uses of literature, Richard Eldridge's new book goes on to specify, through a surprising sequence of wonderful texts, the workings of the literary to make and keep fruitful the disturbances of the modern. The attractive tone of educative conversation Eldridge manages throughout opens his chapters to engagement by those at early stages in their recognition of the necessities of literature as well as by those for whom the increase of this knowledge is their daily bread.

Wolfgang Huemer
By far the most perceptive, subtle, and substantive contribution to the philosophy of literature I have read in years. Eldridge succeeds in offering what are (in my view) the most pressing questions a theoretical approach to literature needs to address: Why do people read literature, and what value do literary texts have in our lives? This book can (and should) shape future debate.

Charles Altieri
Richard Eldridge has at least two immensely important talents as a philosopher addressing literary matters: he is very clear and moving in showing the immense consequences of philosophical texts and philosophical problems for cultural life, and he is patient and precise in showing how the writers he admires address these problems and define paths for expressing responsible and responsive modes of subjectivity. In this book, Eldridge also provides the richest theory I know of how literature can be seen as cognitive experience because of its capacities to define 'the fluency, clarity, coherence, and felt aptness of orientation,' which makes possible the pursuit of lives worth living self-reflexively.

Meet the Author

Richard Eldridge is Charles and Harriett Cox McDowell Professor of Philosophy at Swarthmore College. He is the author of The Persistence of Romanticism, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art, and On Moral Personhood, and is the editor of Beyond Representation, Stanley Cavell, and The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature (forthcoming).

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