By Eugene Goodheart

Eugene Goodheart examines the skeptic disposition that has expert complex literary discourse during the last new release, arguing that the goals of deconstructive suspicion are basic humanistic values. "[This ebook] is a fair-minded, beneficiant critique of the deconstructionist theories of Jacques Derrida, Paul de guy, and their fans. those writers have argued that language is so inherently slippery it may well by no means show a speaker's meant which means. The critic's position, of their view, is to discover the contradictions, subtexts, and metaphorical byways of works which may be so much significantly misleading after they look uncomplicated. Critics have castigated this language-centered skepticism as a sort of nihilism geared to multiply numbingly related readings of already generic texts. Mr. Goodheart's objection is extra refined. He means that the philosophical orientation of deconstructive critics leads them to overemphasize the tough propositional experience of phrases on the rate of the wider effect of literature--its energy to wound, thrill, or rework us."--Morris Dickstein, the recent York occasions publication Review

Originally released in 1991.

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13 Letter dated "Thursday Morning," Nov. 18, 1865, cited by Sidney Coulling, Matthew Arnold and His Critics (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1974), p. 193. 24 CRITICISM AT THE PRESENT TIME It may be objected that literature is not sufficiently monolithic to be defined by a single act. But generalizations about literature that do not encompass all its variety are inevitable and even necessary. By identifying literature with one of its tendencies, the generalization (or its maker) means to privilege that tendency, to make it dominant.

It is not clear from Leavis's account how Arnold might have done his job better. Leavis's objection may rest simply on his preference for a strenuous evasion of certain kinds of explicitness, which always suggest to him alien intrusions of systematic philosophy and science into literary discourse. '" In short, Arnold for Leavis is a literary critic with extraordinary judgment and tact, who in his best work knew how and where to point in a poem to reveal its distinction or its weakness. In writing in defense of the "touchstone" (not of Arnold's particular touchstones) Leavis justifies his own method.

When Arnold characterizes the power of literature as that of enabling us to see life whole, he conceives of literature as an enlargement of the religious idea. As he himself acknowledged, he was continuing the work of his father Thomas Arnold. He writes to his mother: But something of what Papa did as against the Evangelicals—an enlarging of the idea of religion—is the great want of our spiritual and intellectual life of England at present.. . 13 In contemporary discussion of Arnold (whatever of it exists), the religious theme is usually overlooked as a source of his literary and social interests.

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