Prophecies of Leviathan: Reading Past Melville


In his brilliant and thorough afterword, Gil Anidjar situates Prophecies of Leviathan among Szendy's other works and shows how the seemingly tautological self-prophecy really announces a new "ipsology," a "pluralization of the self" through a "narcissism of the other thing."

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In his brilliant and thorough afterword, Gil Anidjar situates Prophecies of Leviathan among Szendy's other works and shows how the seemingly tautological self-prophecy really announces a new "ipsology," a "pluralization of the self" through a "narcissism of the other thing."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Prophecies of Leviathan is an extraordinary reading of Melville's fictions as sustained meditations on the nature of reading. If Moby Dick is a prophetic text, this is because-as Peter Szendy shows us-the event of (its) reading is prophetic. Taking his bearings from Blanchot and Derrida while also reading in ways all his own, Szendy will have changed not only how we read Moby Dick but how it reads us.-Andrew Parker

Prophecies of Leviathan enacts and performs, within the movement of its language, what it seeks to convey: that any reading worthy of the name reading must undergo the storms of reading, must move without compass or anchor, must come to understand that reading means learning to die. In this, Szendy proves himself to be-like Melville himself-one of the great meteorologists of reading in general. Indeed, in reading reading, in reading the act of reading, this wildly wonderful book traces the whirlwinds and tempests, the stammering and staccato iterations, that are the signature of Melville's whale of a book and, in so doing, not only invites future readings but also comprehends and anticipates them. I therefore prophesize that by reading backwards in order to read ahead this book will continue to tell us how and why we read at all, regardless of whether we are reading a book, a document, or, in Melville's case, an archive of the world.-Eduardo Cadava

Szendy uses a dialogical form of criticism to argue that Moby Dick should be read as a prophetic text; the prophecy of an unspeakable catastrophe turns into the experience of writing from the 'outside.' It is the proximity with such an 'outside' that frees Meville's text from its crust of ancient glosses and multiplies amazingly original close readings.-Jean-Michel Rabat

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823231539
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 1/3/2010
  • Edition description: 2
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Szendy teaches aesthetics in the Philosophy Department of the University of Nanterre. He is also adviser for the Cit de la musique in Paris. In English, he has recently published Listen: A History of Our Ears and Prophecies of Leviathan: Reading Past Melville (both Fordham).

GIL ANIDJAR is Associate Professor in the department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures and in the Department of Religion at Columbia University.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations of Works Melville vii

Preface to the English-Language Edition: Reading and the Right to Death ix

Liminary Note xix

Prophecies of Leviathan: Reading Past Melville

The Double Enclosure 3

"I" 6

The Event, or Reading Without Heading 10

The Aura of the Weather 14

Before Sight, the Voice 15

Outside-Inside 17

Naming and Meteoromancy 19

Prosthesis and Prophecy 23

Retroprospection 29

Deluge and Delirium 31

Leaks (Over and Beyond the Archive) 36

"Leviathan is the text," or Generalized Meteorism 40

The Fire, the Bonds 48

Lost at Sea [D?boussol?] 51

The Laws of Fishing and of Reading 53

In Detachment (Dis-Contraction) 56

Return to Sender (the Dead Postman) 61

Through the Tomb 67

Spectral Evidence 70

Backfire 75

Isolation, the Bubble, and the Future of the Text 79

Post-Scriptum: On Whiteness and Beheading 86

Afterword: Ipsology (Selves of Peter Szendy) Gil Anidjar 95

Notes 129

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