The Flesh of Words: The Politics of Writing

Overview


This new collection of challenging literary studies plays with a foundational definition of Western culture: the word become flesh. But the word become flesh is not, or no longer, a theological already-given. It is a millennial goal or telos toward which each text strives.

Both witty and immensely erudite, Jacques Rancière leads the critical reader through a maze of arrivals toward the moment, perhaps always suspended, when the word finds its flesh. That is what he, a valiant ...

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Overview


This new collection of challenging literary studies plays with a foundational definition of Western culture: the word become flesh. But the word become flesh is not, or no longer, a theological already-given. It is a millennial goal or telos toward which each text strives.

Both witty and immensely erudite, Jacques Rancière leads the critical reader through a maze of arrivals toward the moment, perhaps always suspended, when the word finds its flesh. That is what he, a valiant and good-humored companion to these texts, goes questing for through seven essays examining a wide variety of familiar and unfamiliar works.

A text is always a commencement, the word setting out on its excursions through the implausible vicissitudes of narrative and the bizarre phantasmagorias of imagery, Don Quixote's unsent letter reaching us through generous Balzac, lovely Rimbaud, demonic Althusser. The word is on its way to an incarnation that always lies ahead of the writer and the reader both, in this anguished democracy of language where the word is always taking on its flesh.

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Meet the Author


Jacques Rancière is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII. Stanford has also published Rancière's Short Voyages to the Land of the People (2003).
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Table of Contents

The excursions of the word 1
I The politics of the poem
1 From Wordsworth to Mandelstam : the transports of liberty 9
2 Rimbaud : voices and bodies 41
II Theologies of the novel
1 The body of the letter : bible, epic, novel 71
2 Balzac and the island of the book 94
3 Proust : war, truth, book 113
III The literature of the philosophers
1 Althusser, Don Quixote, and the stage of the text 129
2 Deleuze, Bartleby, and the literary formula 146
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