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The Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Detachment
     

The Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Detachment

by Amanda Anderson
 

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Combining analysis of Victorian literature and culture with forceful theoretical argument, The Powers of Distance examines the progressive potential of those forms of cultivated detachment associated with Enlightenment and modern thought. Amanda Anderson explores a range of practices in nineteenth-century British culture, including methods of objectivity in

Overview

Combining analysis of Victorian literature and culture with forceful theoretical argument, The Powers of Distance examines the progressive potential of those forms of cultivated detachment associated with Enlightenment and modern thought. Amanda Anderson explores a range of practices in nineteenth-century British culture, including methods of objectivity in social science, practices of omniscience in artistic realism, and the complex forms of affiliation in Victorian cosmopolitanism. Anderson demonstrates that many writers--including George Eliot, John Stuart Mill, Charlotte Brontë, Matthew Arnold, and Oscar Wilde--thoughtfully address the challenging moral questions that attend stances of detachment. In so doing, she offers a revisionist account of Victorian culture and a tempered defense of detachment as an ongoing practice and aspiration.

The Powers of Distance illuminates its historical object of study and provides a powerful example for its theoretical argument, showing that an ideal of critical detachment underlies the ironic modes of modernism and postmodernism as well as the tradition of Enlightenment thought and critical theory. Its broad understanding of detachment and cultivated distance, together with its focused historical analysis, will appeal to theorists and critics across the humanities, particularly those working in literary and cultural studies, feminism, and postcolonialism. Original in scope and thesis, this book constitutes a major contribution to literary history and contemporary theory.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Powers of Distance . . . consistently delivers the double payoff of enriched views on both Victorian texts and contemporary debates."--Victorian Studies
Victorian Studies
The Powers of Distance . . . consistently delivers the double payoff of enriched views on both Victorian texts and contemporary debates.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691074979
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/30/2001
Pages:
206
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)

What People are Saying About This

Bruce Robbins
This is an extremely well-argued and timely book. Given Anderson's already high reputation, there is probably no one among the younger generation of Victorianists whose latest offering would be as eagerly and widely awaited, and this book is going to satisfy even the most expectant. It is a major new statement about the Victorian period and about the current practice of criticism.
George Levine
The Powers of Distance is an extremely important book. Of the many attractive things about it, the most attractive is the wonderful independence of thought it exhibits. Anderson frees herself to a fresh imagination of the Victorians, of contemporary critical theory, and of cosmopolitanism. The book is also a model of writing—a thoroughly polished piece of work that marks out a new direction for criticism.

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