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David Auerbach on literature, tech, film, etc.

Tag: david quint

Books of the Year 2014

I had less time for reading this year than I would have liked. When I selected Drago Jancar’s haunting and beautiful The Tree with No Name for Slate’s Overlooked Books, it was still with the knowledge that I’d read a lot less fiction than I’d wanted. And Antal Szerb’s excellent, though modest Journey by Moonlight is a bit of a cheat, since I read it (and wrote about it) when Pushkin Press published it all the way back in 2003, rather than when NYRB Classics reissued it this year. It’s stayed with me, though, so I can pick it with more certainty than some of the other choices.

Seeing Richard McGuire’s long-gestating Here finally be published bookends my reading the original 8 page version in RAW when I was 13, when it changed my life. I wrote about the original Here in 2003 too.

And Alonso de Ercilla’s 1569 Spanish-Chilean epic The Araucaniad has been an alluring title to me since I read about it in David Quint’s fascinating Epic and Empire in connection with Lucan’s Civil War. Quint described The Araucaniad as one of those rare epics that takes the side of the losers, and it’s one of those artifacts, like Lucan’s Civil War, that doesn’t fit neatly with any common sense of literary history. Its relevance stems from its own grim variation on a theme that is at the heart of so many great epics and books: in Quint’s words, “that those who have been victimized losers in history somehow have the right to become victimizing winners, in turn.” It deserves a new translation.

As with last year, I haven’t read the entirety of some of the nonfiction selections: Chris Wickham is an excellent historian but I’m not going to deny that some of his Annales-ish wonkery had my eyes skimming. And while the biology and physics books are pretty interesting, I can’t say with much certainty that they’re accurate.

If anyone’s curious as to why some book or other made the list, feel free to ask in the comments. Thanks again for reading my work here or elsewhere.

(As always, I do not make any money from these links; they’re just the easiest way to get the thumbnails.)

Literature

Contemporaries and Snobs (Modern & Contemporary Poetics)

Price: $33.20

1 used & new available from $33.20

The Tree with No Name (Slovenian Literature Series)

Price: $14.95

43 used & new available from $2.20

I Am China: A Novel

Price: $6.99

1 used & new available from $6.99

All Our Names

Price: $9.99

1 used & new available from $9.99

Foreign Gods, Inc.

Price: $9.99

1 used & new available from $9.99

A Voice Full of Cities: The Collected Essays of Robert Kelly

Price: $39.00

16 used & new available from $32.57

Prae, Vol. 1

Price: $40.00

23 used & new available from $30.61

The Time Regulation Institute

Price: $8.99

1 used & new available from $8.99

The Alp (Swiss Literature Series)

Price: $7.35

17 used & new available from $1.99

The Stories of Jane Gardam

Price: $21.94

69 used & new available from $1.95

Harlequin's Millions: A Novel

Price: $18.00

44 used & new available from $2.00

Journey by Moonlight (NYRB Classics)

Price: $17.95

20 used & new available from $8.92

Midnight in the Century (NYRB Classics)

Price: $16.95

34 used & new available from $7.60

 

Nonfiction

The Classical Tradition: Art, Literature, Thought

Price: $94.57

3 used & new available from $45.00

Inside Paradise Lost: Reading the Designs of Milton's Epic

Price: $29.10

21 used & new available from $29.09

Why Is There Philosophy of Mathematics At All?

Price: $23.28

13 used & new available from $11.97

A World without Why

Price: $45.00

24 used & new available from $15.51

Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away

Price: $42.15

72 used & new available from $0.17

From Akhenaten to Moses: Ancient Egypt and Religious Change

Price: $22.37

11 used & new available from $6.32

Religio Duplex: How the Enlightenment Reinvented Egyptian Religion

Price: $21.00

1 used & new available from $21.00

The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About Itself

Price: $22.73

39 used & new available from $1.89

Social Dynamics

Price: $98.00

14 used & new available from $87.30

Absolute Music: The History of an Idea

Price: $22.99

1 used & new available from $22.99

Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China

Price: $14.00

142 used & new available from $1.59

Common Knowledge?: An Ethnography of Wikipedia

Price: $29.89

26 used & new available from $27.86

Science and Emotions after 1945: A Transatlantic Perspective

Price: $120.00

2 used & new available from $110.01

Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age

Price: $24.39

17 used & new available from $13.99

July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914

Price: $25.19

45 used & new available from $6.56

The Logical Must: Wittgenstein on Logic

Price: $50.00

8 used & new available from $43.00

After Hegel: German Philosophy, 1840-1900

Price: $51.98

8 used & new available from $30.00

Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution's Greatest Puzzle

Price: $8.14

52 used & new available from $2.15

Pay Any Price

Price: $10.99

3 used & new available from $10.99

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous

Price: $38.03

37 used & new available from $2.63

Becoming Mead: The Social Process of Academic Knowledge

Price: $32.88

16 used & new available from $26.92

The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics after Napoleon

Price: $51.00

26 used & new available from $43.32

Children into Swans: Fairy Tales and the Pagan Imagination

Price: $25.62

18 used & new available from $20.00

Earth's Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters

Price: $39.99

21 used & new available from $9.99

Forensic Shakespeare (Clarendon Lectures in English)

Price: $34.95

26 used & new available from $20.15

The Computing Universe (A Journey through a Revolution)

Price: $65.88

30 used & new available from $10.25

Self and Other: Exploring Subjectivity, Empathy, and Shame

Price: $55.00

12 used & new available from $26.98

In Other Shoes: Music, Metaphor, Empathy, Existence

Price: $27.78

2 used & new available from $27.78

 

Comics

Here (Pantheon Graphic Library)

Price: $23.09

63 used & new available from $14.44

Beautiful Darkness

Price: $47.86

40 used & new available from $20.50

Beauty

Price: $95.23

5 used & new available from

Dungeon: Twilight – Vol. 4: The End of Dungeon (4)

Price: $14.99

34 used & new available from $10.97

Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen

Price: $22.23

28 used & new available from $5.93

Incomplete Works

Price: $27.86

17 used & new available from $10.68

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth: A Novel

Price: $27.00

49 used & new available from $7.77

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth: A Novel

Price: $27.00

49 used & new available from $7.77

Perfect Nonsense: Chaotic Comics and Goofy Games of George Carlson

Price: $48.37

30 used & new available from $7.45

Weapons of Mass Diplomacy

Price: $48.46

30 used & new available from $8.93

David Quint on Structuralism and New Historicism and Theory in General

David Quint, in his estimable book Epic and Empire, argues against the totalizing tendency of much literary theory and criticism of the 20th century. He speaks of poststructuralism and New Historicism but the general argument could apply to any number of other theories as well. (This is, essentially, what I criticized Derrida for doing in his attack on Husserl.)

I register here my methodological distance from, while acknowledging my indebtedness to, a poststructuralist critical practice that, in turning literary studies back toward history, has incorporated the models of structuralist anthropology. In this line of work, which is sometimes broadly called New Historicism, the literary text is one of an array of cultural products that share a single deep structure or mentality.

My reservations about this practice are partly conditioned by the more local explanations I have arrived at concerning epic and its relationship to the political order. In the widely conceived web of intertextual relationships that constitute the structuralist-historicist slice of history—in which all components of the culture are presupposed to develop at more or less the same rate at any historical moment—the literary text seems capable of being linked with almost any other text of the culture, and there appears to be no control to determine the juxtaposition. The text’s own explicit allusive network becomes only one element of this intertextuality, and certainly not a privileged one. Politics, too, the social disposition of coercive power, becomes one more product of this patterned mentality or “poetics.” That is, politics is necessarily aestheticized by the interpreter. It is one thing to acknowledge that power to some degree depends on the manipulation of semiotic and symbolic order—I do, in fact, argue this—but quite another to conflate the two.

Furthermore, attention to synchronous historical relationships can cause the text’s participation in a diachronic literary history to be overlooked.

David Quint, Epic and Empire (14)

Similar points have been made by many critics of such overarching theories, but this is the most compact statement of the critique that I’ve seen, so I thought it deserved quoting. The underlying irony Quint seems to emphasize is that the conflation of power and semiotics is, in fact, a semiotic power grab.

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