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Out of Germany

E.S. Shaffer

2 October 1980
The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought 1800-1860 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 521 22560 4
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Criticism in the Wilderness. The Study of Literature Today 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Yale, 314 pp., £11.40, October 1980, 0 300 02085 6
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... Rosemary Ashton traces the impact of some German writers, especially Goethe, on the British periodicals and on four writers, Coleridge, Carlyle, Eliot and Lewes; GeoffreyHartman ranges widely through 19th and 20th-century criticism in pursuit of the idea of philosophic criticism, as it derived from Friedrich Schlegel and his German contemporaries. For both authors to a ...

Where Did the Hatred Go?

Adam Phillips: Criticism without Malice

6 March 2008
A Scholar’s Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Fordham, 195 pp., £17.50, October 2007, 978 0 8232 2832 4
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... Ricks against Theory. By the 1990s, when literary criticism had become even more marginal than it was in its supposed heyday, critics were known mostly for the ferocity of their prejudices. GeoffreyHartman, though, has never been a critic with animus. He has been forceful in his views without being disparaging of others in a profession with few niches and great rivalries. He has gone on making ...

Vanishings

Peter Swaab

20 April 1989
The Unremarkable Wordsworth 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Methuen, 249 pp., £8.95, September 1987, 0 416 05142 1
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Wordsworth’s Historical Imagination: The Poetry of Displacement 
by David Simpson.
Methuen, 239 pp., £25, June 1987, 0 416 03872 7
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Romanticism in National Context 
edited by Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich.
Cambridge, 353 pp., £30, June 1988, 0 521 32605 2
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Romantic Affinities: Portraits from an Age 1780-1830 
by Rupert Christiansen.
Bodley Head, 262 pp., £16, January 1988, 0 370 31117 5
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... Hegel, his views on different topics lead into each other, presenting comparable vocabularies and linked concerns whether his immediate subject is the developing self or the revolutions of society. GeoffreyHartman has been probably the most eminent commentator on Wordsworth since the publication in 1964 of his important and influential Wordsworth’s Poetry 1787-1814. The Unremarkable Wordsworth ...

Theory and Truth

Frank Kermode

21 November 1991
Minor Prophecies: The Literary Essay in the Culture Wars 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Harvard, 252 pp., £23.95, October 1991, 0 674 57636 5
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Spinoza and the Origins of Modern Critical Theory 
by Christopher Norris.
Blackwell, 240 pp., £30, July 1990, 0 631 17557 1
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What’s wrong with Postmodernism: Critical Theory and the Ends of Philosophy 
by Christopher Norris.
Harvester, 287 pp., £40, October 1990, 0 7450 0714 7
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... second, more selfish, is to get rid of so-called masterpieces, works that other people, assuming an illicit authority, have recommended. It is this part of the programme that now appears to disturb GeoffreyHartman, though he seems less worried about those threatened masterpieces than about the language in which literature, a category he has not himself entirely abandoned, ought to be discussed. Minor ...

For good or bad

Christopher Ricks

19 December 1985
Easy Pieces 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Columbia, 218 pp., $20, June 1985, 0 231 06018 1
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... GeoffreyHartman’s Easy Pieces can be hard going. ‘To see, oneself unseen, as at the movies, is only less than the ecstasy of an unseeing seeing: of going beyond the non-language of images to the non-language of ...
15 March 1984
... The death of Paul de Man at the age of 64 deprives us of a literary critic whose influence, already immense in the United States and on the Continent, was beginning to be received in England. This influence is not linked to a large body of published work. De Man’s career started late. His studies in philosophy at the University of Brussels were interrupted by the war; after the war, he emigrated ...

Placing Leavis

Geoffrey Hartman

24 January 1985
The Leavises: Recollections and Impressions 
edited by Denys Thompson.
Cambridge, 207 pp., £15, October 1984, 0 521 25494 9
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The Social Mission of English Criticism: 1848-1932 
by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 264 pp., £19.50, August 1983, 0 19 812821 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Robertson, 253 pp., £16.50, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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The Critic as Anti-Philosopher: Essays and Papers by F.R. Leavis 
edited by G. Singh.
Chatto, 208 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 7011 2644 2
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... The astonishing importance of Leavis in the English academic consciousness does not seem to be a passing fad. The scandal-maker of the 1930s became, by a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, part of the saving remnant on which the future of reading would depend. The photo on the cover of Denys Thompson’s The Leavises shows him in a jacket impermeable to the insults of time and with the open shirt of ...

Wild, Fierce Yale

Geoffrey Hartman

21 October 1982
Deconstruction: Theory and Practice 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 157 pp., £6.50, April 1982, 0 416 32060 0
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... There are no Departments of Literary Criticism; and even proposals to have a Criticism question in official examinations can cause turbulence in academic circles. What is at stake? By now, of course, a political element has entered, and many suspect that under the name of ‘criticism’ all kinds of illegal goods may be smuggled in. Customs is instructed to make a proper search. Is ‘criticism ...

Venisti tandem

Denis Donoghue

7 February 1985
Selected Poems 
by Tony Harrison.
Viking, 204 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 670 80040 6
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Palladas: Poems 
by Tony Harrison.
Anvil, 47 pp., £2.95, October 1984, 9780856461279
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Men and Women 
by Frederick Seidel.
Chatto, 70 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2868 2
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Dangerous play: Poems 1974-1984 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 110 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 907540 56 2
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Mister Punch 
by David Harsent.
Oxford, 70 pp., £4.50, October 1984, 0 19 211966 4
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An Umbrella from Piccadilly 
by Jaroslav Seifert and Ewald Osers.
London Magazine Editions, 80 pp., £5, November 1984, 0 904388 75 1
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... A year or two ago, GeoffreyHartman urged literary critics to declare their independence. They should not regard criticism as an activity secondary to the literature it addressed, but as an art in its own right. Think of Pater, Valéry ...

In theory

Christopher Ricks

16 April 1981
... claim, since it arrogates to itself, not only intellectual strenuousness and advancement of thought (as if the alternative to ‘advanced thought’ were retarded thought), but also all good faith. GeoffreyHartman of Yale, whose advocacy of literary theory (rather, of one rampancy of it) is impassioned and learned, is not personally an arrogant man. But the enterprise arrogates so handsomely that his ...
16 March 1989
Wartime Journalism, 1939-1943 
by Paul de Man and Werner Hamacher, edited by Neil Hertz and Thomas Keenan.
Nebraska, 399 pp., £28, October 1988, 9780803216846
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Critical Writings 1953-1978 
by Paul de Man, edited by Lindsay Waters.
Minnesota, 228 pp., $39.50, April 1989, 0 8166 1695 7
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Paul de Man: Deconstruction and the Critique of Aesthetic Ideology 
by Christopher Norris.
Routledge, 218 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 415 90079 4
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Reading de Man Reading 
edited by Lindsay Waters and Wlad Godzich.
Minnesota, 312 pp., $39.50, April 1989, 0 8166 1660 4
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... and Benjamin Franklin, who is said to have wanted Jews, described as ‘Asiatics’, excluded from the United States by the Constitution. This last citation is spurious.Some commentators, including GeoffreyHartman, say that by the standards of the time this was pretty lukewarm anti-semitism. Jacques Derrida – a Jew and a close friend of de Man’s – finds it inexcusable, but demands that it be ...
13 February 1992
Authors and Authority: English and American Criticism 1750-1990 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Macmillan, 392 pp., £40, August 1991, 0 333 43294 0
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A History of Modern Criticism 1750-1950. Vol. VII: German, Russian and Eastern European Criticism, 1900-1950 
by René Wellek.
Yale, 458 pp., £26, October 1991, 0 300 05039 9
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... different kind of history of criticism. There is good evidence to support his scepticism at his home institution in the so-called École de Yale. In 1979, Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, GeoffreyHartman and J. Hillis Miller, all at the time Yale colleagues, put together a kind of manifesto entitled Deconstruction and Criticism. There were certain affinities among the five but the differences ...
5 June 1980
Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida 
edited by John Sturrock.
Oxford, 190 pp., £5.50, January 1980, 0 19 215839 2
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... the so-called ‘Yale School’ (five essays under the title Deconstruction and Criticism) one can see that this worry about implicit nihilism is very near to coming to the surface. In his preface, GeoffreyHartman writes: Caveat lector. Derrida, de Man and Miller are certainly boa-deconstructors, merciless and consequent, though each enjoys his own style of disclosing again and again the ‘abysm ...
17 September 1987
The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation 
by Hayden White.
Johns Hopkins, 248 pp., £20.80, May 1987, 0 8018 2937 2
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Post-Structuralism and the Question of History 
edited by Derek Attridge, Geoff Bennington and Robert Young.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 32759 8
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... The Historical Text as Literary Artifact’ (originally published the year after Metahistory), where the study of Frye and Collingwood was complemented by new insights from Peirce, Lévi-Strauss and GeoffreyHartman. But the major part of this collection consisted of cultural criticism in the more general sense. The publication of The Content of the Form, with eight essays dating back over the Eighties ...

Putting on Some English

Terence Hawkes: Eagleton’s Rise

7 February 2002
The Gatekeeper: A Memoir 
by Terry Eagleton.
Allen Lane, 178 pp., £9.99, January 2002, 0 7139 9590 4
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... one of its most acclaimed proponents in the world beyond. Appropriately, the major function of literary theory on both sides of the Atlantic was to open a gate and sponsor an escape. Above all, as GeoffreyHartman has pointed out, it bankrolled a break-out from Englishness. No longer were knees required to bend before a deadening Matthew Arnold-T. S. Eliot confection of tradition and canon. A different ...

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