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World, The Text, And The Critic

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Overview

This extraordinarily wide-ranging work represents a new departure for contemporary literary theory. Author of Beginnings and the controversial Orientalism, Edward Said demonstrates that modern critical discourse has been impressively strengthened by the writings of Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, for example, and by such influences as Marxism, structuralism, linguistics, and psychoanalysis. He argues, however, that the various methods and schools have had a crippling effect through their tendency to force works of literature to meet the requirements of a theory or system, ignoring the complex affiliations binding the texts to the world.
The critic must maintain a distance both from critical systems and from the dogmas and orthodoxies of the dominant culture, Said contends. He advocates freedom of consciousness and responsiveness to history, to the exigencies of the text, to political, social, and human values, to the heterogeneity of human experience. These characteristics are brilliantly exemplified in his own analyses of individual authors and works.
Combining the principles and practice of criticism, the book offers illuminating investigations of a number of writers—Swift, Conrad, Lukács, Renan, and many others—and of concepts such as repetition, originality, worldliness, and the roles of audiences, authors, and speakers. It asks daring questions, investigates problems of urgent significance, and gives a subtle yet powerful new meaning to the enterprise of criticism in modern society.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review

[Said's] book is relaxed and discursive, original, immensely learned, fluently written.
— John Bayley

The Guardian

It is a pleasure to read someone who not only has studied and thought so carefully but is also beginning to substantiate, as distinct from announcing, a genuinely emergent way of thinking.
— Raymond Williams

English Literature in Transition
The intellectual excitement of each essay and the enlightening effect of the brilliant thinking and writing of the book as a whole move the reader to the recognition of Said's major contribution to contemporary literary critical theory and practice.
The New Republic

Provocative and exacting; the essays provoke due interrogation of contemporary literary, and exact from the reader the care and conscientiousness the question at issue warrant...The book issues from a remarkably sharp intelligence, forcing us to face questions and possibilities that literary theorists on the whole prefer not even to raise.
— Denis Donoghue

New York Times Book Review - John Bayley
[Said's] book is relaxed and discursive, original, immensely learned, fluently written.
The Guardian - Raymond Williams
It is a pleasure to read someone who not only has studied and thought so carefully but is also beginning to substantiate, as distinct from announcing, a genuinely emergent way of thinking.
The New Republic - Denis Donoghue
Provocative and exacting; the essays provoke due interrogation of contemporary literary, and exact from the reader the care and conscientiousness the question at issue warrant… The book issues from a remarkably sharp intelligence, forcing us to face questions and possibilities that literary theorists on the whole prefer not even to raise.
Stanley Fisher
A learned, lucid, powerful book. It speaks with a particular and moving urgency to the issues facing criticism today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674961876
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/10/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 804,462
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward W. Said was University Professor at Columbia University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Secular Criticism

1. The World, the Text, and the Critic

2. Swift's Tory Anarchy

3. Swift as Intellectual

4. Conrad: The Presentation of Narrative

5. On Repetition

6. On Originality

7. roads Taken and Not Taken in Contemporary Criticism

8. Reflections on AMerican "Left" Literary Criticism

9. Criticism Between Culture and System

10. Traveling Theory

11. Raymond Schwab and the Romance of Ideas

12. Islam, Philolgy, and French Culture: Renan and Massignon

Conclusion: Religious Criticism

Notes

Index

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