A Critic's Journey: Literary Reflections, 1958-1998

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Yale University Press, Jan 1, 1999 - Literary Criticism - 297 pages
Geoffery Hartman, one of the most distinguished literary scholars in America, has been a commentator on and participant in the literary-critical scene for more than forty years. He was one of the first to question the "formalism" of the New Critics, he helped to introduce such European critics as Benjamin, Malraux, Blanchot, Lacan, and Derrida to American audiences, and he has expanded our knowledge of the history of criticism by pointing to the relevance of the Jewish rabbinic tradition and of psychoanalytic modes of interpretation. This book -- a collection of Hartman's essays from throughout his career -- sheds new light on the last four turbulent decades of criticism.

In a lengthy introduction to the book, Hartman tells us about his life, the scholars who were his teachers or colleagues (among them Rene Wellek, Erich Auerbach, Harold Bloom, and Paul de Man), and some of the intellectual issues he has grappled with over the course of his career. The essays in the volume, many of which are out of print or not previously collected, are arranged here in three parts: "Theory" (such influential pieces as "Understanding Criticism" and "The Voice of the Shuttle"); "Cases" (with subjects ranging from Shakespeare to Wordsworth and from Hitchcock to the mystery story); and "Speculations" (concluding with an essay on "Higher Education at the Millennium.") The collection -- vintage Hartman -- brings his exemplary work to a new generation of readers.

From inside the book


Tea and Totality
Understanding Criticism
The Philomela Project
The Struggle for the Text
Shakespeare and the Ethical Question
Miltons Counterplot
Wordsworths Touching Compulsion
Purification and Danger in American Poetry
The Case of the Mystery Story
Hitchcocks North by Northwest
Walter Benjamin in Hope
Words and Wounds
The Reinvention of Hate
Art Consensus and Progressive Politics

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About the author (1999)

Geoffrey H. Hartman was born in Frankfurt, Germany on August 11, 1929. In 1939, he was among the Jewish children evacuated from Nazi Germany as part of a Kindertransport. He spent the war years in England. After the war, he joined his mother in New York. He received a bachelor's degree in comparative literature from Queens College in 1949 and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Yale University in 1953. He taught English and comparative literature at the University of Iowa, Cornell University, and Yale University. He was a literary critic whose work took in the Romantic poets, Judaic sacred texts, Holocaust studies, deconstruction and the workings of memory. He wrote numerous books during his lifetime including Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814; Criticism in the Wilderness: The Study of Literature Today; Saving the Text: Literature, Derrida, Philosophy; Minor Prophecies: The Literary Essay in the Culture Wars; The Longest Shadow: In the Aftermath of the Holocaust; Scars of the Spirit: The Struggle Against Inauthenticity; and A Scholar's Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe. He received the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in 2006 for The Geoffrey Hartman Reader. He died on March 14, 2016 at the age of 86.

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