Lucretius and Modernity: Epicurean Encounters Across Time and Disciplines

Lucretius and Modernity: Epicurean Encounters Across Time and Disciplines

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Lucretius's long shadow falls across the disciplines of literary history and criticism, philosophy, religious studies, classics, political philosophy, and the history of science. The best recent example is Stephen Greenblatt's popular account of the Roman poet's De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) rediscovery by Poggio Bracciolini, and of its reception in early modernity, winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Despite the poem's newfound influence and visibility, very little cross-disciplinary conversation has taken place. This edited collection brings together essays by distinguished scholars to examine the relationship between Lucretius and modernity. Key questions weave this book's ideas and arguments together: What is the relation between literary form and philosophical argument? How does the text of De rerum natura allow itself to be used, at different historical moments and to different ends? What counts as reason for Lucretius? Together, these essays present a nuanced, skeptical, passionate, historically sensitive, and complicated account of what is at stake when we claim Lucretius for modernity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781137591890
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date: 02/16/2016
Series: The New Antiquity
Edition description: 1st ed. 2016
Pages: 225
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Jacques Lezra is Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at New York University, and a member of the Departments of English and German. He is the co-editor of Dictionary of Untranslatables (Princeton, 2014), with Emily Apter and Michael Wood; the author of Wild Materialism: The Ethic of Terror and the Modern Republic (Fordham, 2010; Spanish translation 2012; Chinese translation 2013); and the editor of the Northwestern University Press book series IDIOM, with Paul North. Lezra won the PEN Critical Editions Award for his translation into Spanish of Paul de Man's Blindness and Insight.

Liza Blake is an Assistant Professor of English and Drama at the University of Toronto Mississauga and an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Department of English at the University of Toronto. She has published in the journals postmedieval and SEL: Studies in English Literature, and in the edited volumes Ornamentalism: The Art of Renaissance Accessories, ed. Bella Mirabella, Speculative Medievalisms: Discography, ed. Eileen Joy et al, and the Palgrave Handbook of Early Modern Literature, Science, and Culture, ed. Evelyn Tribble and Howard Marchitello, forthcoming 2015.

Table of Contents

Introduction; Jacques Lezra and Liza Blake
1. Michel Serres' Nonmodern Lucretius: Manifold Reason and the Temporality of Reception; Brooke Holmes
2. Lucretius and the Symptomatology of Modernism; Joseph Farrell
3. Lucretius the Physicist and Modern Science; David Konstan
4. The Presence of Lucretius in Eighteenth-Century French and German Philosophy; Catherine Wilson
5. Epicureanism Across the French Revolution; Thomas M. Kavanagh
6. How Modern Is Freedom of the Will?; Phillip Mitsis
7. On the Nature of Marx's Things; Jacques Lezra
8. All Sense-Perceptions are True: Epicurean Responses to Skepticism and Relativism; Katja Vogt
9. From Clinamen to Conatus: Deleuze, Lucretius, Spinoza; Warren Montag
10. Notes on Leo Strauss' "Notes on Lucretius"; Alain Gigandet
11. Reflections of Lucretius in late antique and early modern Biblical and scientific poetry: Providence and the sublime; Philip Hardie

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"In a series of masterful essays, Lucretius and Modernity offers an astutely philological and multidisciplinary assessment of the pertinence of De rerum natura, both how the work anticipates a variety of conceptions of modernity and how modern readings activate striking latencies contained in this singular Latin poem. Much more than a straightforward account of reception history, this exemplary collection radically presses the limits of reading the past in the present and the present in the past." - John T. Hamilton, William R. Kenan Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Harvard University, USA

"The return of Lucretius has been one of the more remarkable developments in the humanities over recent years. This scintillating collection offers diverse and focussed challenges to rethink how responses to Lucretius have shaped, and continue to shape, our sense of the Western intellectual tradition." - Duncan F. Kennedy, author of Rethinking Reality: Lucretius and the Textualization of Nature

"Lucretius, writing in the first century before the Common Era, is one of our greatest philosophical contemporaries. He teaches us how to think the atom, the swerve and accident, and freedom: this book, taking stock of the poem's reception across disciplines and periods, persuades us with great force of Lucretius's continuing modernity." - Barbara Cassin, Director of Research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France

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