Catalogue


Why does literature matter? /
Frank B. Farrell.
imprint
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 2004.
description
xi, 266 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0801441803 (cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 2004.
isbn
0801441803 (cloth)
catalogue key
5166506
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [255]-261) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2005-09-01:
Academic conservatives insist that the study of literature has been undercut by politics (John Ellis's argument in Literature Lost: Social Agendas and the Corruption of the Humanities, CH, Sep'98, 36-0075) and by new critical theory (Raymond Tallis's in Theorrhoea and After, 1999). Farrell (SUNY, Purchase), a political liberal, also believes that literature has been devalued and sets out to show why it still matters. According to Farrell, the reasons are numerous, elusive, and various (economic, technological, and political, not merely a result of changes in literary-critical practice), but he addresses only those that emanate from literary study. He is troubled by the impoverishment of "literary space" and offers a thorough--at times overelaborate--typology of the ways literary space can be understood and undercut; here one finds some recycling-through-renaming of old ideas. Farrell has a gift for citing interesting ideas from many sources, among them critics such as Paul de Man and Marjorie Perloff and philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Donald Davidson, and Martin Heidegger. He also cites texts by a veritable cornucopia of authors (Thomas Pynchon, Samuel Beckett, James Merrill, Marcel Proust, et al.). In the end, what emerges is a complex pattern of minor points rather than a single major argument. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Large lower-/upper-division undergraduate collections; all graduate libraries. K. Tololyan Wesleyan University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Farrell, a political liberal, believes that literature has been devalued and sets out to show why it still matters. According to Farrell, the reasons are numerous, elusive, and various (economic, technological, and political, not merely a result of changes in literary-critical practice), but he addresses only those that emanate from literary study. . . . Farrell has a gift for citing interesting ideas from many sources."-K. Tololyan, Choice, September 2005
"Why Does Literature Matter? is a very intelligent, accessible, attractive, and illuminating book with wide-ranging, well-chosen literary examples and insightful analyses. Frank B. Farrell's defense of a moderate linguistic turn and exposition of a psychological-metaphysical model for understanding literature's significance are clear and convincing."-Donald Marshall, Fletcher Jones Chair of Great Books, Pepperdine University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Literature matters because . . . it allows for experiences important to the living out of a sophisticated and satisfying human life; because other arenas of culture cannot provide them to the same degree; and because a relatively small number of texts carry out these functions in so exceptional a manner that we owe it to past and future members of the species to keep such texts alive in our cultural traditions.-from Chapter One Frank B. Farrell defends a rich conception of the space of literature that retains its links to issues of self-formation and metaphysics and does not let that space collapse into just another reflection of social space. He maintains that recent literary theory has badly misread findings in the philosophy of language and the theory of subjectivity. That misreading, Farrell says, has tended to endorse ways of understanding literature that make one question why it matters at all. Farrell here opposes some recent theoretical trends and, through a mix of philosophical and literary studies, tells us why in his view literature does truly matter. Among the writers Farrell discusses are John Ashbery, Samuel Beckett, Amit Chaudhuri, Cormac McCarthy, James Merrill, Marcel Proust, Thomas Pynchon, Salman Rushdie, W. G. Sebald, and John Updike. The philosophers important to his arguments include Donald Davidson, Daniel Dennett, and Bernard Williams; G. W. F. Hegel, Martin Heidegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ludwig Wittgenstein play roles as well. Among the literary theorists addressed are Stephen Greenblatt, Paul de Man, and Marjorie Perloff. In addition to his close readings of literary, philosophical, and critical texts, Farrell considers cultural studies and postcolonial studies more generally and speculates on the possible contributions of object-relations theory in psychology to the study of literature.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
The Space of Literaturep. 1
Literary Space in McCarthy and Pynchon, Rushdie and Chaudhurip. 25
The Philosophical Backgroundp. 48
James Merrill and the Making of Literaturep. 67
The Radical Linguistic Turn in de Man and Perloffp. 86
John Ashbery and Samuel Beckettp. 100
New Historicism and Cultural Studiesp. 129
Literature and Regression, Benjamin, Derridap. 156
Literary Style and Transitional Spacep. 187
John Updike and the Scene of Literaturep. 217
Notesp. 243
Bibliographyp. 255
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem