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Literature, Theory, and Common Sense : New French Thought Series - Antoine Compagnon

Literature, Theory, and Common Sense

New French Thought Series

By: Antoine Compagnon, Carol Cosman (Translator)

Hardcover Published: 26th July 2004
ISBN: 9780691070421
Number Of Pages: 232

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In the late twentieth century, the common sense approach to literature was deemed naive. 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.

"Like everything that Antoine Compagnon writes, [this book] is intelligent, oblique, ironic, surprising the reader with unexpected shifts and reversals. It may annoy both theorists and the advocates of common sense, but if they surrender to their annoyance, they will have missed the point."--Terence Cave, Times Literary Supplement

Introduction
What Remains of Our Loves?p. 1
Theory and Common Sensep. 4
Theory and Practice of Literaturep. 7
Theory, Criticism, Historyp. 9
Theory or Theoriesp. 10
Theory of Literature or Literary Theoryp. 11
Literature Reduced to Its Elementsp. 12
Literaturep. 15
The Scope of Literaturep. 17
The Comprehension of Literature: Functionp. 19
The Comprehension of Literature: The Form of Contentp. 21
The Comprehension of Literature: The Form of Expressionp. 22
Literariness or Prejudicep. 25
Literature Is Literaturep. 27
The Authorp. 29
The Thesis of the Death of the Authorp. 30
"Voluntas" and "Actio"p. 33
Allegory and Philologyp. 36
Philology and Hermeneuticsp. 39
Intention and Consciousnessp. 43
The Method of Parallel Passagesp. 45
"Straight from the Horse's Mouth "p. 48
Intention or Coherencep. 51
The Two Arguments against Intentionp. 54
The Return to Intentionp. 58
Meaning Is Not Significationp. 59
Intention Is Not Premeditationp. 63
The Presumption of Intentionalityp. 65
The Worldp. 69
Against "Mimesis"p. 70
"Mimesis" Denaturalizedp. 73
Realism: Reflection or Conventionp. 76
The Referential Fallacy and Intertextualityp. 78
The Terms of the Disputep. 82
Critique of the Anti-mimetic Thesisp. 83
The Arbitrariness of Languagep. 88
"Mimesis" as Recognitionp. 92
Fictional Worldsp. 97
The World of Booksp. 100
The Readerp. 102
Reading Sidelinedp. 102
The Resistance of the Readerp. 105
Reception and Influencep. 108
The Implied Reader108
The Open Workp. 113
The Horizon of (Phantom) Expectationp. 115
Genre as a Model of Readingp. 116
Freewheeling Readingp. 117
After the Readerp. 121
Stylep. 123
Style in All Its Conditionsp. 124
Language, Style, Writingp. 129
Down with Style!p. 131
Norm, Deviation, Contextp. 135
Style as Thoughtp. 138
The Return of Stylep. 140
Style and Exemplificationp. 142
Norm or Aggregatep. 144
Historyp. 146
Literary History and History of Literaturep. 148
Literary History and Literary Criticismp. 151
History of Ideas, Social Historyp. 153
Literary Evolutionp. 156
The Horizon of Expectationp. 157
Philology Disguisedp. 161
History or Literature?p. 164
History as Literaturep. 167
Valuep. 169
Most Poems Are Bad, but They Are Poemsp. 170
Aesthetic Illusionp. 173
What Is a Classic?p. 176
On the National Tradition in Literaturep. 180
Saving the Classicp. 182
The Last Plea for Objectivismp. 186
Value and Posterityp. 188
In Favor of a Tempered Relativismp. 191
Conclusion: The Theoretical Adventurep. 193
Theory and Fictionp. 194
Theory and "Bathmology"p. 195
Theory and Perplexityp. 196
Notesp. 199
Bibliographyp. 211
Indexp. 217
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691070421
ISBN-10: 0691070423
Series: New French Thought Series
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 232
Published: 26th July 2004
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.2  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.48

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