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Then You Are Them

Fredric Jameson: Atwood, 10 September 2009

The Year of the Flood 
by Margaret Atwood.
Bloomsbury, 434 pp., £18.99, September 2009, 978 0 7475 8516 9
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... Who will recount the pleasures of dystopia? The pity and fear of tragedy – pity for the other, fear for myself – does not seem very appropriate to a form which is collective, and in which spectator and tragic protagonist are in some sense one and the same. For the most part, dystopia has been a vehicle for political statements of some kind: sermons against overpopulation, big corporations, totalitarianism, consumerism, patriarchy, not to speak of money itself ...

Into the Big Tent

Benjamin Kunkel: Fredric Jameson, 22 April 2010

Valences of the Dialectic 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 625 pp., £29.99, October 2009, 978 1 85984 877 7
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... Fredric Jameson’s pre-eminence, over the last generation, among critics writing in English would be hard to dispute. Part of the tribute has been exacted by his majestic style, one distinctive feature of which is the way that the convoy of long sentences freighted and balanced with subordinate clauses will dock here and there to unload a pithy slogan ...

Making a Break

Terry Eagleton: Fredric Jameson’s Futures, 9 March 2006

Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 431 pp., £20, September 2005, 1 84467 033 3
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... like a nightmare on the brains of the living. Benjamin was not wholly sceptical of the future, as Fredric Jameson points out in this monumental study. On the contrary, he discerned in it a messianic power to disrupt the present. Even so, he treats it with a certain Judaic wariness: you are forbidden to carve graven images of the future because to do so ...

Report from the Interior

Michael Wood: Fredric Jameson, 9 January 2014

The Antinomies of Realism 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 432 pp., £20, October 2013, 978 1 78168 133 6
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... in relation to any text. I have lingered over this example because it allows a first approach to Fredric Jameson’s admirable new book by means of something other than a gross and helpless summary. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) Jameson thinks of style indirect libre, point of view and various forms of irony as ...

Refugees from the Past

James Meek: Jameson on Chandler, 5 January 2017

Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 87 pp., £12.99, July 2016, 978 1 78478 216 0
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... of what America was like in the 1940s and early 1950s. The film is dark and menacing – Fredric Jameson writes that Humphrey Bogart, who plays Marlowe, ‘is distinguished from the other stars of his period in that he is able to show fear’ – but also glamorous, romantic and politically safe. The novels, still widely read yet less ...

How criminals think

John Lanchester, 13 September 1990

Love and Death on Long Island 
by Gilbert Adair.
Heinemann, 138 pp., £10.95, July 1990, 9780434006229
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Going wrong 
by Ruth Rendell.
Hutchinson, 250 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 09 174300 1
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The Burden of Proof 
by Scott Turow.
Bloomsbury, 515 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7475 0673 6
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Crucible of Fools 
by M.S. Power.
Hamish Hamilton, 165 pp., £12.99, August 1990, 0 241 13006 9
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... In his now-famous article ‘The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’, the Marxist critic Fredric Jameson gives one of the defining characteristics of Post-Modernism as being ‘the effacement of the older (essentially high-modernist) frontier between high culture and the so-called mass or commercial culture ...

Space Wars

Fredric Jameson, 4 April 1996

The Invisible in Architecture 
edited by Ole Bouman and Roemer van Toorn.
Academy, 516 pp., $115, February 1994, 1 85490 285 7
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The Classical Vernacular: Architectural Principles in an Age of Nihilism 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 158 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 1 85754 054 9
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... To what degree is our experience of modern – let’s say rather, contemporary – architecture mediated through photography? To what degree, in other words, is that experience really photographic rather than architectural (and spatial)? And would such ‘contamination’ be a bad thing? Is it possible that the buildings themselves are complicitous, no longer offering the grand head-on, Neoclassical façades for simple reproduction (see, for example, the magnificent Richard Pare collection, Photography and Architecture 1839-1939)? Photography would then be co-operating in the actual construction of the newer buildings, angling into dimensions of built space that our ordinary human bodies have little daily commerce with, combining planes we normally separate in dramatic visual ‘chords’, and absorbing the signs of space in order to produce a new simulation ...

First Impressions

Fredric Jameson: Slavoj Žižek’s Paradoxes, 7 September 2006

The Parallax View 
by Slavoj Žižek.
MIT, 434 pp., £16.95, March 2006, 0 262 24051 3
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... As every schoolchild knows by now, a new book by Žižek is supposed to include, in no special order, discussions of Hegel, Marx and Kant; various pre- and post-socialist anecdotes and reflections; notes on Kafka as well as on mass-cultural writers like Stephen King or Patricia Highsmith; references to opera (Wagner, Mozart); jokes from the Marx Brothers; outbursts of obscenity, scatological as well as sexual; interventions in the history of philosophy, from Spinoza and Kierkegaard to Kripke and Dennett; analyses of Hitchcock films and other Hollywood products; references to current events; disquisitions on obscure points of Lacanian doctrine; polemics with various contemporary theorists (Derrida, Deleuze); comparative theology; and, most recently, reports on cognitive philosophy and neuroscientific ‘advances ...

Perfected by the Tea Masters

Fredric Jameson: Japan-ness, 5 April 2007

Japan-ness in Architecture 
by Arata Isozaki, translated by Sabu Kohso.
MIT, 349 pp., £19.95, July 2006, 0 262 09038 4
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... The three-stage process [of the building of the Katsura Imperial Villa] is perfectly discernible in the layout of the buildings as they survive. Beginning from the Ko-shoin with its celebrated Moon-Viewing Platform (tsukimi-dai) of bamboo, the Chu¯ -shoin and the Gakki-no-ma were added, and finally the Shin-goten. All rooms face the pond at a uniform angle, whilst successively set back from right to left (as viewed from the pond ...

Cosmic Neutrality

Fredric Jameson: ‘Lucky Per’, 20 October 2011

Lucky Per 
by Henrik Pontoppidan, translated by Naomi Lebowitz.
Lang, 558 pp., £44, November 2010, 978 1 4331 1092 4
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... Once upon a time, when provinces still existed, an ambitious young provincial would now and again attempt to take the capital by storm: Midwesterners arriving in New York; Balzacian youths plotting their onslaught on the metropolis (‘à nous deux, maintenant!’); eloquent Irishmen getting a reputation in London; and Scandinavians – Ibsen, Georg Brandes, Strindberg, Munch – descending on Berlin to find a culture missing in the bigoted countryside ...

Time and the Sea

Fredric Jameson, 16 April 2020

... Recently​ a happy accident put me in possession of a rarely seen film by Andrzej Wajda, Smuga cienia, from 1976. It is an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s short, openly autobiographical novel The Shadow-Line (1916). Wajda conceived the film as a modest docudrama based on Conrad’s last mission at sea. The British government, in the thick of the First World War, had enlisted the ageing celebrity for a brief, hopefully not too dangerous foray in the North Sea to hunt for German U-boats ...

What We Have

David Bromwich: Tarantinisation, 4 February 1999

The Origins of Postmodernity 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 143 pp., £11, September 1998, 1 85984 222 4
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The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-98 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 206 pp., £11, September 1998, 1 85984 182 1
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... art and commerce. Post-Modernism has sometimes seemed to fascinate Marxists like Anderson and Fredric Jameson because it offers a bottomless pool of examples to prove the decadence of late capitalism. Its specimens on this view are important to sample because they instruct us in the ‘logic’ of current events, in which a new culture, engendered by ...

Parallax

Slavoj Žižek: Henning Mankell, 20 November 2003

The Return of the Dancing Master 
by Henning Mankell, translated by Laurie Thompson.
Harvill, 406 pp., £14.99, October 2003, 1 84343 058 4
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... the murderer is discovered, apprehended and condemned. His technique quite closely follows what Fredric Jameson, in his seminal essay ‘On Raymond Chandler’, described as Chandler’s procedure, which is to use the formula (an investigation that brings the detective into contact with all strata of life) as a frame allowing him to fill out the plot ...

An Unfinished Project

Fredric Jameson, 3 August 1995

The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin 1910-1940 
edited by Theodor Adorno and Manfred Jacobson, translated by Evelyn Jacobson.
Chicago, 651 pp., £39.95, May 1994, 0 226 04237 5
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T.W. Adorno/Walter Benjamin: Briefwechsel 1928-40 
edited by Henri Lonitz.
Suhrkamp, 501 pp., DM 64, April 1994, 3 518 58174 0
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... Walter Benjamin was not a letter writer of the order of Lawrence or Flaubert, for whom the medium of the letter seems to fill a need, not for mere self-expression, but for some larger exercise of the personality in exasperation or enthusiasm, in that almost instinctive enlargement of reaction to things which others find in unmotivated physical activity ...

Après the Avant Garde

Fredric Jameson, 12 December 1996

Histoire de ‘Tel Quel’, 1960-82 
by Philippe Forest.
Seuil, 656 pp., frs 180, October 1995, 2 02 017346 8
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The Time of Theory: A History of ‘Tel Quel’ (1960-83) 
by Patrick ffrench.
Oxford, 318 pp., £37.50, December 1995, 0 19 815897 1
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The Making of an Avant Garde: ‘Tel Quel’ 
by Niilo Kauppi.
Mouton de Gruyter, 516 pp., August 1994, 3 11 013952 9
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... Whatever you thought of it at the time, the fate of Tel Quel – the journal, the group and the theoretical orientation – concerns us all in one way or another, for the fate of the avant garde (was this really the last one?) has something to say about our society, our history, our politics and our relationship to the future. Given Tel Quel’s essentially literary orientation, its history can also tell us something about the place of Literature in the new televisual age ...

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