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By Frank Lentricchia

ISBN-10: 0226471985

ISBN-13: 9780226471983

This paintings is the 1st historical past and overview of up to date American serious idea inside of its eu philosophical contexts. within the first half, Frank Lentricchia analyzes the influence on our serious considered Frye, Stevens, Kermode, Sartre, Poulet, Heidegger, Sussure, Barthes, Lévi-Strauss, Derrida, and Foucault, between different, much less principal figures. In a moment half, Lentricchia turns to 4 exemplary theorists at the American scene—Murray Krieger, E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Paul de guy, and Harold Bloom—and an research in their careers in the lineage validated partly one.

Lentricchia's severe goal is in proof in his sustained assault at the kind of hidden formalist premises inherited from the recent severe fathers. Even within the identify of old cognizance, he contends, modern theorists have usually reduce literature off from social and temporal methods. by means of so doing he believes that they've disadvantaged literature of its suitable values and became the instructing of either literature and idea right into a rarefied task. All alongside the best way, with the aid of such assorted thinkers as Saussure, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and Bloom, Lentricchia exhibits a technique during which destiny serious theorists might face up to the mandarin attitudes in their fathers.

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This "stepping outside" occurs in an act of self-consciousness, in which mythic structures are taken apart-presumably by the myth-maker 37 Versions of Existentialism himself, in the very process of myth-making-and shown to be fictions. The self-conscious myth-maker is a fictionalist capable of writing King Lear, while the unself-conscious myth-maker is a moral degenerate capable of a violent anti-Semitism. Kermode puts it this way: We have to distinguish between myths and fictions. Fictions can degenerate into myth whenever they are not consciously held to be fictive.

57 It is literature alone which provides us with the vision of the goals of civilization, a vision of the work which must be done if we are finally to be freed from our environment. In Schiller the statement of that vision tends to be utopian; in Frye we find the ideal of the classless society often articulated as the true goal of "liberal education," by which he means literary education, an ideal descended from Schiller. Once the dated philosophical jargon of German idealism is cleared out of Schiller's theory, what we find is the contention dear to aesthetic idealists that the ability to experience the aesthetic state is coincidental with our achievement of human being.

Myths are the agents of stability, fictions the agents of change. Myths call for absolute, fictions for conditional assent. IS It is not difficult to see in this passage the fictionalist's bill of particulars against Northrop Frye. Fictions are heuristic devices, lenses which we freely put on and take off. Myths are full-fledged Kantian structures: like the forms of sensibility, time and space, or like the twelve categories of understanding, myths are the irremovable lenses of vision which determine the shape of the phenomenal world.

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After the New Criticism by Frank Lentricchia


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