An introduction to Derrida's contribution to literary studies, comprising much of Derrida's work on writers such as Shakespeare, Mallarme, Joyce and Kafka, with an introductory essay on deconstruction.
Introduction -- Creation and the other -- Originality and invention -- Inventive language and the literary event -- Singularity -- Reading and responding -- Performance -- Form, meaning, context -- Responsibility and ethics -- An everyday impossibility.
Recent developments in literary theory, such as structuralism and deconstruction, have come under attack for neglecting history, while historically-based approaches have been criticized for failing to take account of the problems inherent in their methodological foundations. This collection of essays is unique in that it focuses on the relation between post-structuralism and historical (especially Marxist) literary theory and criticism. The volume includes a deconstructive reading of Marx, essays that relate history to the philosophical and institutional context, and a number of (...) studies of particular texts, literary and non-literary, which pose the question of history and literary theory with particular force. (shrink)
The Iliad and Beowulf provide rich sources of historical information. The novels of Henry Fielding and Henry James may be instructive in the art of moral living. Some go further and argue that Emile Zola and Harriet Beecher Stowe played a part in ameliorating the lives of those existing in harsh circumstances. However, as Derek Attridge argues in this outstanding and acclaimed book, none of these capacities is distinctive of literature. What is the singularity of literature? Do the terms "literature" (...) and "the literary" refer to actual entities found in cultures at certain times, or are they merely expressions characteristic of such cultures? Attridge argues that this resistance to definition and reduction is not a dead end, but a crucial starting point from which to explore anew the power and practices of Western art. Derek Attridge provides a rich new vocabulary for literature, rethinking such terms as "invention," "singularity," "otherness," "alterity," "performance" and "form." He returns literature to the realm of ethics, and argues for the ethical importance of literature, demonstrating how a new understanding of the literary might be put to work in a "responsible," creative mode of reading. The Singularity of Literature is not only a major contribution to the theory of literature, but also a celebration of the extraordinary pleasure of the literary, for reader, writer, student or critic. This Routledge Classics edition includes a new preface by the author. (shrink)
In The Singularity of Literature, Derek Attridge gives us a brilliant and engaging reflection on how to think literature in terms of the singularity of its event, an event which happens as a complex relating between the work and its reading/ interpretation. The virtues of this smart and impressive book are many, and not least among them is the clarity and accessibility of Attridge's writing, which lets his text appeal not just to scholars of literature and literary theory but also (...) to undergraduates and even an interested wider public. As the title suggests, the book's focus is on what makes literature singular, that is, different from other arts but also from other forms of writing; in short, Attridge is interested in what gives literature and the experience of reading and interpreting it their specificity, that is, their "literariness" or literary character. On the other hand, the title also indicates the parameters of Attridge's definition of the literary work as an always singular event of its reading. The view proposed by Attridge underscores the verbal happening or enactment, which characterizes the literary work. The work of literature is to be seen as an event, which involves the text and its reader(s) in a complicated and creative cultural, historical, and temporal relating. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Literature offers an opportunity to consider the gap between the analytic and the continental traditions of aesthetics. In particular, Lamarque's survey fails to take account of the possibility that literature is an institution and a practice that challenges the conventions of instrumental rationality, a position held by a number of continental philosophers who have written on art. It also pays little attention to the reader's experience of the inventiveness of the literary work, preferring to represent the reading (...) of literature as a matter of conventions confirmed. An alternative understanding of the literary work as an event that opens up new possibilities for the reader, put forward in the author's recent book, The Singularity of Literature, is sketched. (shrink)