Para/worlds: Entanglements of Art and History
The essays in this book engage in a broad range of topics, stretching from Anacreon and Horace to Kafka and Samuel Beckett, and they concern themselves with the notion of Art and Life as "para-worlds," or fields of being that elucidate and complete each other, answer and imply each other, confront and contradict each other: in short, with the "entanglements of Art and History." Pearce finds centrally that there is at present a crisis in literary criticism. On the one hand, there is a bustling and exciting crop of competing critical schools, each with its special mind-set, each tending to regard itself as the final hierophantic mode. On the other, it seems clear that criticism has recently become a part of higher pathology diagnosing and (if possible) eradicating, as Giles Gunn says, "the disease called literature." The result is that scholars and critics have become more and more self-conscious and obsessive about the purpose and methods of their work. The critical approaches that Pearce himself has employed in these essays are those of no one school or dogma but are almost as varied as the texts themselves, ranging from essays in classical scholarship, through new critical close readings, to postmodernist semiotic analysis. But whether traditional or innovative in method, each of these essays aims in the first instance to be what Anatole France once said all true criticism should be: "the adventure of the soul among masterpieces."
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In Wilhelm Meister , there is a passage in which Goethe distinguishes three sorts , or modes , of reverence which are , I think , compatible with Shakespeare's late vision . . . his philosophic vision . as we have it in this play .
It is difficult to know quite where to pick this subject up , so remote from our own are the habits of thought and feeling that once projected and sustained so sacramental a vision of the world , or that may again .
Both Kafka and Dante regard the “ ever - womanly ” as essential to a state of grace and to the attainment , or vision , of the Absolute . Dante's progress through the final heaven of all loves is entrusted to Beatrice's care ; for Kafka ...
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