Sublime Enjoyment: On the Perverse Motive in American Literature

Overview

Linking classic American literature to contemporary popular culture, Sublime Enjoyment argues that the rational systems of normal social life are motivated and sustained by "perverse" desires. This perversity arises from the failure of symbolic satisfaction--love, work, success--to make us happy, and from our refusal to accept that failure. Examining the ways in which this inadvertence is represented in American literature and culture, Dennis Foster identifies ways that longings...
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Overview

Linking classic American literature to contemporary popular culture, Sublime Enjoyment argues that the rational systems of normal social life are motivated and sustained by "perverse" desires. This perversity arises from the failure of symbolic satisfaction--love, work, success--to make us happy, and from our refusal to accept that failure. Examining the ways in which this inadvertence is represented in American literature and culture, Dennis Foster identifies ways that longings are linked to social forces.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...such a personalized list of subjects gives Foster license to write in an engagingly personal tone, which though not breezy or unserious makes difficult material palatable. This will be especially so for readers in whom contemporary critical trends elicit groans of anguish, as though they were being forced to endure an article in a scholarly journal. With its fascinating annotations, recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above." J. M. Ditsky, Choice

"Foster's readings are more than consistently credible; they are thoroughly provocative, often generating startling insights about the assumptions that keep the myth of America patched together." Heather J. Hicks, American Literature

"Perhaps the greatest value...is...[the] conscious negotiation of the always uneasy space between literary criticism and sociopolitical transformation." Calvin Thomas, Contemporary Literature

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Product Details

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: the problem with pleasure; 2. The sublime community; 3. Re-Poe Man: Poe's un-American sublime; 4. Too resurgent: liquidity and consumption in Henry James; 5. Alphabetic pleasures: The Names; 6. J. G. Ballard's empire of the senses: perversion and the failure of authority; 7. Fatal West: W. S. Burrough's perverse destiny; 8. Conclusion: agency in the perverse; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
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