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Yearning for the ‘Utile’

Frank Kermode: Snobbery and John Carey, 23 June 2005

What Good Are the Arts? 
by John Carey.
Faber, 286 pp., £12.99, June 2005, 0 571 22602 7
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... misconception of ‘high art’ fostered by such insidious propagandists as Adorno, Benjamin and Geoffrey Hartman of Yale. It is fair to add that what really infuriates Carey is the coexistence in our world of a class that can afford the already heavily subsidised seats at Covent Garden and the myriad fellow humans who live on $2 a day. In so far as we ...

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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... theory on both sides of the Atlantic was to open a gate and sponsor an escape. Above all, as Geoffrey Hartman 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 though not unrelated heritage also goaded some of ...

Is it always my fault?

Denis Donoghue: T.S. Eliot, 25 January 2007

T.S. Eliot 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 202 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 0 19 530993 5
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... inner murk – his buried life.’ This chapter needs a far more interrogative context, such as Geoffrey Hartman provides in The Fateful Question of Culture (1997). Raine keeps such a context distant by concentrating on the English Eliot. We hear a lot of Arnold and Kipling, something of Browning and Clough, Shakespeare and Milton, less of Pater, but ...

Return of Oedipus

Stephen Bann, 4 March 1982

by Jacques Derrida.
Athlone, 366 pp., £25, December 1981, 0 485 30005 2
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... the same has not been true of those restless denizens of the sea of texts, the literary critics. Geoffrey Hartman’s Saving the Text, whose subtitle hopefully sandwiches Derrida between the two bastions of ‘Literature’ and ‘Philosophy’, is a recent and highly impressive example of the recuperative effort which has been expended in responding to ...

Old Literature and its Enemies

Claude Rawson, 25 April 1991

The Death of Literature 
by Alvin Kernan.
Yale, 230 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 0 300 04783 5
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Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopedia, Genealogy and Tradition 
by Alasdair MacIntyre.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £12.95, August 1990, 0 7156 2337 0
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Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man 
by David Lehman.
Poseidon, 318 pp., $21.95, February 1991, 0 671 68239 3
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... now writes, not the author, in Heidegger’s famous phrasing.’ He believes that because Geoffrey Hartman ‘has argued provocatively that criticism today is at least as creative as contemporary literature,’ the notion has become a fact of the culture: ‘Criticism almost single-handedly, the writers seemingly having nothing to say in the ...

Signposts along the way that Reason went

Richard Rorty, 16 February 1984

Margins of Philosophy 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Alan Bass.
Harvester, 330 pp., £25, May 1983, 0 7108 0454 7
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... the diverse things which a remarkable constellation of original critics, Harold Bloom, Geoffrey Hartman, J. Hillis Miller and the late Paul de Man, were already doing before Derrida came along to join them). Derrida did write some things which encouraged the belief that he had discovered a brand-new whiz-bang method of finding out what texts ...

Presidential Criticism

John Sutherland, 10 January 1991

Victorian Subjects 
by J. Hillis Miller.
Harvester, 330 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 7450 0820 8
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Tropes, Parables, Performatives: Essays on 20th-Century Literature 
by J. Hillis Miller.
Harvester, 266 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 7450 0836 4
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... disciple of Paul de Man, next door in the French Department. With de Man and his other colleagues, Geoffrey Hartman and Harold Bloom, Miller achieved national prominence for the ‘Yale school of criticism’ – a prominence certified in 1985 with a wildly overwritten denunciation in the New York Times (‘The Tyranny of the Yale Critics’). Despite all ...

The Things about Bayley

Nicholas Spice, 7 May 1987

The Order of Battle at Trafalgar, and other essays 
by John Bayley.
Collins Harvill, 224 pp., £12, April 1987, 0 00 272848 6
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... not exist, or that War and Peace is about literariness rather than life, or that the criticism of Geoffrey Hartman or Paul de Man is poetry to be read alongside Byron and Blake, or that literature, as a function of class oppression, is a burden from which we must all be set free. ‘For him the insides of books are ... things like those in his own ...

Fine Chances

Michael Wood, 5 June 1986

Literary Criticism 
by Henry James, edited by Leon Edel.
Cambridge, 1500 pp., £30, July 1985, 0 521 30100 9
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Henry James: The Writer and his Work 
by Tony Tanner.
Massachusetts, 142 pp., £16.95, November 1985, 0 87023 492 7
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... science of literary interpretation.’ That certainly seems closer to Christopher Ricks than to Geoffrey Hartman. But James doesn’t say Sainte-Beuve had a horror of science, only of hardened, inflexible science, and James’s complaint against Taine, by contrast, is that he enjoys his simplifications rather than settles for them, as we all must. And ...

Scholarship and its Affiliations

Wendy Steiner, 30 March 1989

... the consistency of identity, the self as a seamless web. Already the richly humanistic efforts of Geoffrey Hartman, Pierre Bourdieu and Christopher Norris are rescuing the work of Heidegger and de Man without endangering the principle that ideology and text are invariably (if complexly) related. But what do we do with Anthony Blunt? Here was no mere ...

Wordsworth and the Well-Hidden Corpse

Marilyn Butler, 6 August 1992

The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... to be gradually developed by some of the leading Romanticists. For M.H. Abrams, Northrop Frye and Geoffrey Hartman, the date 1798 retains all its charm because it signifies not an echo of 1789 so much as a correction of it – the true spiritual revolution after the false, material and murderous revolution ushered in by 1789. Harold Bloom, Hillis Miller ...

The Dirty Dozens

Terence Hawkes, 21 July 1994

Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars 
by Henry Louis Gates.
Oxford, 199 pp., £15, October 1993, 0 19 507519 6
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The Alchemy of Race and Rights 
by Patricia Williams.
Virago, 263 pp., £7.99, September 1993, 1 85381 674 4
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... idea of the author’s or composer’s (or, mutatis mutandis, the slave-owner’s) authority. As Geoffrey Hartman has argued, the revisionary ‘reading’ of a text is not parasitic or imitative so much as symbiotic in its relationship with its object. Its role is not limited to the service of the author’s or the composer’s art. On the ...


Terry Eagleton: Lawrence Sanitised, 5 February 2004

D.H. Lawrence and ‘Difference’: Post-Coloniality and the Poetry of the Present 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Oxford, 226 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 19 926052 4
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... out that some of the most distinguished names in the field – Barthes, Adorno, Foucault, Jameson, Geoffrey Hartman – are remarkably fine stylists, more so than the majority of non-theoretical critics. Writers do not on the whole take kindly to theorists, rather as shamans do not always look with favour on anthropologists. A lot of poets and novelists ...

The Deconstruction Gang

S.L. Goldberg, 22 May 1980

Deconstruction and Criticism 
by Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman and J. Hillis Miller.
Routledge, 256 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 7100 0436 2
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... all of which can naturally be taken as read. And to cap it all, it emerges, from Professor Hartman’s (discreetly constructive) preface that the authors are not entirely at one, that Professor Bloom and he, for example, are probably not deconstructionist mafiosi at all. And it is true that the former does mention one or two difficulties about a view ...

From Plato to Nato

Christopher Norris, 7 July 1983

Literary Theory: An Introduction 
by Terry Eagleton.
Blackwell, 244 pp., £15, May 1983, 0 631 13258 9
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Essays on Fiction 1971-82 
by Frank Kermode.
Routledge, 227 pp., £9.95, May 1983, 0 7100 9442 6
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Deconstructive Criticism: An Advanced Introduction 
by Vincent Leitch.
Hutchinson, 290 pp., £15, January 1983, 0 09 150690 5
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Readings and Writings: Semiotic Counter-Strategies 
by Peter Wollen.
Verso, 228 pp., £15, March 1983, 0 86091 055 5
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Knowing the Poor: A Case-Study in Textual Reality Construction 
by Bryan Green.
Routledge, 221 pp., £12.95, February 1983, 0 7100 9282 2
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... the prerogatives normally accorded to ‘creative’ or ‘imaginative’ writing. Critics like Geoffrey Hartman and J. Hillis Miller exploit this freedom to the full, deconstructing what they see as the privileged metaphysical status that literary texts have traditionally enjoyed. Up to a point, such practices might seem to square with Kermode’s ...

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