Modernism and the Critical Spirit

Forsideomslag
Transaction Publishers, 2000 - 203 sider
Complaints about the decline of critical standards in literature and culture in general have been voiced for much of the twentieth century. These have extended from F.R. Leavis's laments for a "lost center of intelligence and urbane spirit," to current opposition to the predominance of radical critical theory in contemporary literature departments. Humanist criticism, which has as its object the quality of life as well as works of art, may well lack authority in the contemporary world. Even amid the disruptions of the industrial revolution, nineteenth-century humanists such as Matthew Arnold, John Ruskin, and Thomas Carlyle could assume a positive order of value and shared habits of imaginative perception and understanding between writers and readers. Eugene Goodheart argues that, by contrast, contemporary criticism is infused with the skepticism of modernist aesthetics. It has willfully rejected the very idea of moral authority.

Goodheart starts from the premise that questions about the moral authority of literature and criticism often turn upon a prior question of what happens when the sacred disappears or is subjected to the profane. He focuses on contending spiritual views, in particular the dialectic between the Protestant-inspired, largely English humanist tradition of Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, and D.H. Lawrence and the decay of Catholicism represented by James Joyce and T.S. Eliot. Goodheart argues that literary modernism, in distancing itself from natural and social vitality, tends to render suspect all privileged positions. It thereby undermines the critical act, which assumes the priority of a particular set of values. Goodheart makes his case by analyzing the work of a variety of novelists, poets, and critics, nineteenth century and contemporary. He blends literary theory and practical criticism.

"The argument is fresh, the examples invariably telling. Every reader interested in our cultural plight, where it came from, and what might be done about it, will find this book invaluable" -Wayne C. Booth

"Subtle yet vigorous polemic...Goodheart's concern with the entire spectrum of religious, social, and literary issues puts him in the succession of Lionel Trilling. [Modernism and the Critical Spirit], though it deplores the decline of authority in the wake of 'modernist' virtues...is itself authoritative because of the range and depth of its controversial analyses." -Geoffrey Hartman

Eugene Goodheart is Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities at Brandeis University. His books include Culture and the Radical Conscience, The Skeptic Disposition: Deconstruction, Ideology and Other Matters, Desire and Its Discontents and The Reign of Ideology.

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Om forfatteren (2000)

Eugene Goodheart, is Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Brandeis University. His books include Novel Practices: Classic Modern Fiction, Modernism and the Critical Spirit, The Cult of the Ego, and Confessions of a Secular Jew, all available from Transaction.

Eugene Goodheart, is Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Brandeis University. His books include Novel Practices: Classic Modern Fiction, Modernism and the Critical Spirit, The Cult of the Ego, and Confessions of a Secular Jew, all available from Transaction.

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