First published in 1988, "Peculiar Language" is now established as one of the most important discussions of the language of literature.
This thought-provoking book challenges traditional notions of literary criticism, arguing that all attempts by writers, critics and literary theorists to define the language of literature have involved self-contradiction. Through examination of key moments in literary history, Derek Attridge demonstrates that such contradictions in accounts of literary language are embedded in our cultural concept of "literature" and asserts that in order to appreciate the forces that determine the limits of literary language, we must look beyond the realm of the "literary" and embrace the wider political and social sphere. While key examples have been drawn from the Renaissance, Romanticism and the work of James Joyce, Attridge's unique application of deconstructive methods has ensured that the influence of this book has been felt across the entire field of literary studies.
Re-issued as a result of recent critical interest in the book, this edition includes a new preface by the author. Alongside his new book, "The Singularity of Literature, Peculiar Language" confirms Derek Attridge's place at the cutting-edge of contemporary critical theory.
"Lovers of literature have been coming out of the closet in departments of English and philosophy alike, eager to update the old defences of poetry and even speaking without shame of a "new aestheticism." If they do succeed in restoring literature to its rightful throne, and setting criticism back beside it as "the queen of the sciences" Walter Benjamin held it to be, they will owe no small debt to the trailblazing work of Derek Attridge
-Kiernan Ryan, "Times Higher Education Supplement, 2005