9780691070421

Literature, Theory, and Common Sense

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780691070421

  • ISBN10:

    0691070423

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2004-07-06
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

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Summary

In the late twentieth century, the common sense approach to literature was deemed naïve. Roland Barthes proclaimed the death of the author, and Hillis Miller declared that all interpretation is theoretical. In many a literature department, graduate students spent far more time on Derrida and Foucault than on Shakespeare and Milton. Despite this, common sense approaches to literature--including the belief that literature represents reality and authorial intentions matter--have resisted theory with tenacity. As a result, argues Antoine Compagnon, theorists have gone to extremes, boxed themselves into paradoxes, and distanced others from their ideas. Eloquently assessing the accomplishments and failings of literary theory, Compagnon ultimately defends the methods and goals of a theoretical commitment tempered by the wisdom of common sense. While it constitutes an engaging introduction to recent theoretical debates, the book is organized not by school of thought but around seven central questions: literariness, the author, the world, the reader, style, history, and value. What makes a work literature? Does fiction imitate reality? Is the reader present in the text? What constitutes style? Is the context in which a work is written important to its apprehension? Are literary values universal? As he examines how theory has wrestled these themes, Compagnon establishes not a simple middle-ground but a state of productive tension between high theory and common sense. The result is a book that will be met with both controversy and sighs of relief.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION What Remains of Our Loves? 1(14)
Theory and Common Sense
4(3)
Theory and Practice of Literature
7(2)
Theory, Criticism, History
9(1)
Theory or Theories
10(1)
Theory of Literature or Literary Theory
11(1)
Literature Reduced to Its Elements
12(3)
CHAPTER 1 Literature 15(14)
The Scope of Literature
17(2)
The Comprehension of Literature: Function
19(2)
The Comprehension of Literature: The Form of Content
21(1)
The Comprehension of Literature: The Form of Expression
22(3)
Literariness or Prejudice
25(2)
Literature Is Literature
27(2)
CHAPTER 2 The Author 29(40)
The Thesis of the Death of the Author
30(3)
"Voluntas" and "Actio"
33(3)
Allegory and Philology
36(3)
Philology and Hermeneutics
39(4)
Intention and Consciousness
43(2)
The Method of Parallel Passages
45(3)
"Straight from the Horse's Mouth"
48(3)
Intention or Coherence
51(3)
The Two Arguments against Intention
54(4)
The Return to Intention
58(1)
Meaning Is Not Signification
59(4)
Intention Is Not Premeditation
63(2)
The Presumption of Intentionality
65(4)
CHAPTER 3 The World 69(33)
Against "Mimesis"
70(3)
"Mimesis" Denaturalized
73(3)
Realism: Reflection or Convention
76(2)
The ReferentialFallacy and Intertextuality
78(4)
The Terms of the Dispute
82(1)
Critique of the Anti-mimetic Thesis
83(5)
The Arbitrariness of Language
88(4)
"Mimesis" as Recognition
92(5)
Fictional Worlds
97(3)
The World of Books
100(2)
CHAPTER 4 The Reader 102(21)
Reading Sidelined
102(3)
The Resistance of the Reader
105(3)
Reception and Influence
108(1)
The Implied Reader
108(5)
The Open Work
113(2)
The Horizon of (Phantom) Expectation
115(1)
Genre as a Model of Reading
116(1)
Freewheeling Reading
117(4)
After the Reader
121(2)
CHAPTER 5 Style 123(23)
Style in All Its Conditions
124(5)
Language, Style, Writing
129(2)
Down with Style!
131(4)
Norm, Deviation, Context
135(3)
Style as Thought
138(2)
The Return of Style
140(2)
Style and Exemplification
142
Norm or Aggregate
111(35)
CHAPTER 6 History 146(23)
Literary History and History of Literature
148(3)
Literary History and Literary Criticism
151(2)
History of Ideas, Social History
153(3)
Literary Evolution
156(1)
The Horizon of Expectation
157(4)
Philology Disguised
161(3)
History or Literature?
164(3)
History as Literature
167(2)
CHAPTER 7 Value 169(24)
Most Poems Are Bad, but They Are Poems
170(3)
Aesthetic Illusion
173(3)
What Is a Classic?
176(4)
On the National Tradition in Literature
180(2)
Saving the Classic
182(4)
The Last Plea for Objectivism
186(2)
Value and Posterity
188(3)
In Favor of a Tempered Relativism
191(2)
CONCLUSION The Theoretical Adventure 193(6)
Theory and Fiction
194(1)
Theory and "Bathmology"
195(1)
Theory and Perplexity
196(3)
Notes 199(12)
Bibliography 211(6)
Index 217

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