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10 January 1991
Victorian Subjects 
by J. HillisMiller.
Harvester, 330 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 7450 0820 8
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Tropes, Parables, Performatives: Essays on 20th-Century Literature 
by J. HillisMiller.
Harvester, 266 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 7450 0836 4
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... There are up to ten thousand American academics who could claim the job description ‘literary critic’ as they make their way to the annual convention of the Modern Languages Association. J. HillisMiller is one of the handful who matter ...

Absent Authors

John Lanchester

15 October 1987
Criticism in Society 
by Imre Salusinszky.
Methuen, 244 pp., £15, May 1987, 0 416 92270 8
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Mensonge 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 104 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 233 98020 2
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... Those who have much leisure to think,’ Dr Johnson wrote, ‘will always be enlarging the stock of ideas, and every increase of knowledge, whether real or imagined, will produce new words or combinations of words.’ The words that aren’t in a dictionary can convey nearly as much information as the words that are: the main body of the OED, which was completed in 1933, has no entry for the first word I looked up in it – ‘genocide ...

Waiting for the Dawn to Come

Rachel Bowlby: Reading George Eliot

11 April 2013
Reading for Our Time: ‘Adam Bede’ and ‘Middlemarch’ Revisited 
by J. HillisMiller.
Edinburgh, 191 pp., £19.99, March 2012, 978 0 7486 4728 6
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... to a middle place between two repudiated ways of seeing or not seeing the world – neither just looking nor failing to look at all. Dorothea will now plunge back into selfless engagement (though her first move, after coming away from the window, is to summon a servant). As narrative reward, her lost illusions are soon restored. It turns out that she ...
22 May 1980
Deconstruction and Criticism 
by Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman and J. HillisMiller.
Routledge, 256 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 7100 0436 2
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... In reviewing a book on literary theory recently, a noted American structuralist, Jonathan Culler, drew a stern line between the sort of assumptions about literature that might do for ordinary ‘readers’ and those that are currently giving ‘vitality’, as he put it, to ‘literary studies’. The point is well taken; and it also casts a certain light on the present book, Deconstruction and Criticism, as well as on the general condition (and conditions) of American academic ‘vitality ...
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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... Wellek, focused on Central and Eastern European critics, is the penultimate volume of a vast project he began in the Fifties. The two previous volumes dealt respectively with English and American criticism in this same half-century, and chapters of the first four volumes of the series covered earlier critics that fall within the scope of Patrick ...
16 December 1993
The Modern Language Association of America: Program for the 109th Convention, Vol. 108, No. 6 
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The Modern Language Association: Job Information List 
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... attendance in three figures. The MLA, with a current enrolment of 31,500, was not always as big. Just 40 people came to the first convention in 1883, out of a total membership of 126. Attendance progressively increased, from one thousand in 1930 to five thousand in 1959. Then, with the explosion of higher education, it leapt to 12,300 in 1966, at which level ...

Surplusage!

Elizabeth Prettejohn: Walter Pater

6 February 2020
The Collected Works of Walter Pater, Vol. III: Imaginary Portraits 
edited by Lene Østermark-Johansen.
Oxford, 359 pp., £115, January 2019, 978 0 19 882343 8
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The Collected Works of Walter Pater, Vol. IV: Gaston de Latour 
edited by Gerald Monsman.
Oxford, 399 pp., £115, January 2019, 978 0 19 881616 4
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Walter Pater: Selected Essays 
edited by Alex Wong.
Carcanet, 445 pp., £18.99, September 2018, 978 1 78410 626 3
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... ancient languages, and a relentless critic of disciplinary boundaries. It’s true he took his subjects from the past, often the ancient past, but he was interested in those aspects that had special interest, or even fashionability, in his lifetime – new discoveries or dramatic revisions to previous orthodoxies. He may have been the first to place the ...
9 May 1991
The Infection of Thomas De Quincey: A Psychopathology of Imperialism 
by John Barrell.
Yale, 235 pp., £18.95, May 1991, 0 300 04932 3
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... mass of De Quincey’s extant writings, one thing has a bearing on another was that of J. HillisMiller, in his book, The Disappearance of God, which was published in 1963, before Miller took his deconstructionist turn. The critical avant-garde was at that moment ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue

19 July 1984
Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... like Frank Kermode and Tony Tanner, or Francophiles like Stephen Heath and Stephen Bann. Samuel Johnson had moral principles, but nothing like a theory of literature: he didn’t need one. The force of English common sense is that it leaves you free to deal with the things that matter. Till recently, Johnsonian sentiments ...
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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... possible career; but de Man’s uncle, the socialist politician Hendrik de Man, helped him to a job on Le Soir, the biggest newspaper in Belgium, which was then under German control. Hendrik de Man had supported the King’s decision to surrender, and for a time persuaded himself that the German takeover, though not quite the revolution he had looked ...
1 March 1984
A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. I: The First Thousand Years 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by David Chibbett.
Macmillan, 319 pp., £20, September 1979, 0 333 19882 4
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A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. II: The Years of Isolation 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by Don Sanderson.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 22088 9
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A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. III: The Modern Years 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by Don Sanderson.
Macmillan, 307 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 34133 3
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World within Walls 
by Donald Keene.
Secker, 624 pp., £15, January 1977, 0 436 23266 9
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Modern Japanese Poets and the Nature of Literature 
by Makoto Ueda.
Stanford, 451 pp., $28.50, September 1983, 0 8047 1166 6
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Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake 
by Edward Seidensticker.
Allen Lane, 302 pp., £16.95, September 1983, 0 7139 1597 8
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... It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature.             Henry James, Life of Hawthorne But, first of all, is there a history of silence?    Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference Literary history? Can there still be people who believe in it – or them: literature, history, literary history? Are not all texts on the same level, just texts? Is history not something synchronic, merely a different way of talking about language? The views implied by these rhetorical questions seem wrong to many people, myself included ...

Keach and Shelley

Denis Donoghue

19 September 1985
Shelley’s Style 
by William Keach.
Methuen, 269 pp., £18, April 1985, 9780416303209
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Ariel: A Shelley Romance 
by André Maurois and Ella D’Arcy.
Penguin, 252 pp., £1.95, September 1985, 0 14 000001 1
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... to natural science – a passionate dream, a straining after impossibilities, a record of fond conjectures, a confused embodying of vague abstractions.’ Mary Shelley’s note on the poems of 1822, like her note on ‘The Witch of Atlas’, observed that Shelley couldn’t ‘bend his mind away from the broodings and wanderings of thought, divested from ...
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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... radical expectations. The first name on the title page was that of the out-of-town publisher Joseph Cottle of Bristol. It’s an odd fact that Cottle authors – the youthful Southey and Coleridge alone, together, or in conjunction with friends such as Lamb – account for most of the modern English poets lampooned for ...

Friends

Eugene Goodheart

16 March 1989
The company we keep: An Ethics of Fiction 
by Wayne Booth.
California, 485 pp., $29.55, November 1988, 0 520 06203 5
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... who declared that he would no longer teach Huckleberry Finn because he found the portrayal of Jim offensive. Booth remembers with more than a twinge of conscience that he and his colleagues found the challenge to Mark Twain’s great novel offensive because it violated ‘academic norms of objectivity’. Anyone ...
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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... John Sturrock’s little book is the best single guide to its subject that has yet appeared. Structuralism and Since demands, though, that its title be taken literally. It traces, technically and without concession to idle curiosity, the course of ‘structuralism’ in its modern phase – from the moment when it achieved new importance in the work of Lévi-Strauss in the early Sixties, through its development and extensions in the work of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, to its present position, which is known either as ‘post-structuralism’ or simply as ‘deconstruction ...

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