Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-mp689 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-23T15:04:55.034Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Afterword: Turning Back to Literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020

Extract

Three times I rushed, and my heart urged me to hold her, and three times she flew from my hands like a shadow or even a dream.

—Homer, The Odyssey 11.206–08.

To speak of the future of literary criticism is always to speak of the future of literature, which is a mode of language and an institution whose very being essentially touches on the possibility and fragility of its own future. “The fragility of literature,” as Richard Klein suggests, “its susceptibility to being lost,” is at the heart of all literary writing, which emerges from the absence of a “real referent” and thus sustains itself through its reference to other texts, to the archive of literary writing that is made up of figures and other literary articulations that allow us to read. Klein reminds us, citing Jacques Derrida, that literary texts may always disappear: not only because they may be forgotten but also because they are susceptible to the erasure of the archive, to apocalyptic destruction, and to the collective loss of the knowledge of how to read—as a result of new modes of media saturation or, I would add, through the collapse of readability in the age of what Hannah Arendt calls “the modern lie” (“Truth” 253). The force and fragility of literature and of literary criticism are bound up with the possible disappearance of the literary archive, which we implicitly confront in reading literature and in pursuing its forms and thoughts as literary critics.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Works Cited

Hannah, Arendt. The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Harcourt, 1948. Print.Google Scholar
Hannah, Arendt. “Truth and Politics.” Between Past and Future. New York: Penguin, 1961. 227–64. Print.Google Scholar
Erich, Auerbach. “Figura.” Scenes from the Drama of European Literature. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983. 1178. Print. Theory and Hist. of Lit. 9.Google Scholar
DeLillo, Don. Underworld. New York: Scribner, 1997. Print.Google Scholar
de Man, Paul. “Kant and Schiller.” Aesthetic Ideology. Ed. Warminski, Andrzej. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996. 129–62. Print.Google Scholar
de Man, Paul. “The Rhetoric of Temporality.” Blindness and Insight. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983. 187228. Print.Google Scholar
Jacques, Derrida. “Freud et le scène de l‘écriture.” L‘écriture et la différence. Paris: Seuil, 1967. 293340. Print.Google Scholar
Jacques, Derrida. Mal d'archive: Une impression freudienne. Paris: Galilée, 1995. Print.Google Scholar
Shoshana, Felman. “Theaters of Justice: Arendt in Jerusalem, the Eichmann Trial, and the Redefinition of Justice in the Wake of the Holocaust.” The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002. 106–30. Print.Google Scholar
Sigmund, Freud. Entwurf einer Psychologie. 1895. Ed. Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud, and Ernst Kris. London: Imago, 1954. Print.Google Scholar
Hayles, N. Katherine. “Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers.” How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1999. 2549. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mark, Jordan. “Liturgies of Repetition: A Preface to the Prologue of The Baphomet.” Literature and Religion in the Aftermath: Reading (Sacred) Texts in Light of Trauma. Ed. Shelly Rambo. Spec. issue of Studies in the Literary Imagination 41.2 (2008): 6382. Print.Google Scholar
Dirk, Lange. Trauma Recalled: Literature, Disruption, and Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009. Print.Google Scholar
Claude, Lanzmann. “Le lieu et la parole.” Au sujet de Shoah: Le film de Claude Lanzmann. By Bernard Cuau et al. Paris: Belin, 1990. 295. Print.Google Scholar
Peggy, Phelan. “Immobile Legs, Stalled Words: Psychoanalysis and Moving Deaths.” Mourning Sex: Performing Public Memories. New York: Routledge, 1998. 4472. Print.Google Scholar
Peggy, Phelan. “The Ontology of Performance.” Unmarked: The Politics of Performance. New York: Routledge, 1993. 146–66. Print.Google Scholar
Shelly, Rambo. “Beyond Redemption? Reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road after the End of the World.” Literature and Religion in the Aftermath: Reading (Sacred) Texts in Light of Trauma. Ed. Rambo. Spec. issue of Studies in the Literary Imagination 41.2 (2008): 99120. Print.Google Scholar