Joshua Landy How to Do Things with Fictions

ISBN 13: 9780195188561

How to Do Things with Fictions

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( 22 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780195188561: How to Do Things with Fictions

Why does Mark's Jesus speak in parables? Why does Plato's Socrates make bad arguments? Why are Beckett's novels so inscrutable? And why don't stage magicians even pretend to summon spirits anymore? In a series of captivating chapters on Mark, Plato, Beckett, Mallarmé, and Chaucer, Joshua Landy not only answers these questions but explains why they are worth asking in the first place.

Witty and approachable, How to Do Things with Fictions challenges the widespread assumption that literary texts must be informative or morally improving in order to be of any real benefit. It reveals that authors are sometimes best thought of not as entertainers or as educators but as personal trainers of the brain, putting their willing readers through exercises designed to fortify specific mental capacities, from form-giving to equanimity, from reason to faith.

Delivering plenty of surprises along the way--that moral readings of literature can be positively dangerous; that the parables were deliberately designed to be misunderstood; that Plato knowingly sets his main character up for a fall; that metaphor is powerfully connected to religious faith; that we can sustain our beliefs even when we suspect them to be illusions--How to Do Things with Fictions convincingly shows that our best allies in the struggle for more rigorous thinking, deeper faith, richer experience, and greater peace of mind may well be the imaginative writings sitting on our shelves.

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About the Author:


Joshua Landy is the Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University, where he co-founded and co-directs the Initiative in Philosophy and Literature. He is author of Philosophy as Fiction: Self, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust and coeditor, with Michael Saler, of The Re-Enchantment of the World: Secular Magic in a Rational Age.

Review:


"This book may be most valuable for its call to pedagogical reform. It would be helpful for revising the aims of broad world-lit surveys or humanities courses, or, indeed, for reframing almost any literature class. ...Landy's book also offers persuasive talking points for any defense of the liberal arts mission... His book is a good manual for training Landy's own readers in how to become formative teachers."
--Ashley Barnes, Comparative Literature


"Joshua Landy has no patience for the simple-minded moral didacticism that permeates recent literary theory and philosophy. Sure-footed and light-handed, he emphasizes the 'formative' rather than the 'informative' function of literary fiction. Eloquent, erudite, witty, and just as passionate, Landy has given us a new way of looking at the importance of fiction for life--a new and marvelous 'defence of poesy.'"
--Alexander Nehamas, author of Only a Promise of Happiness


"What do we gain from reading fiction? Joshua Landy's brilliant new book advances a provocative answer with impressive verve, erudition, and insight. His discussion ranges from the New Testament to Plato, Mallarmé, and Beckett, among many others. No reader will put down the book unaffected, or think of fiction in quite the same way again."
--Charles L. Griswold, author of Self-Knowledge in Plato's Phaedrus


"In this wonderfully engaging book, Joshua Landy writes against all of those (rather depressing) theories that argue for literary texts as guides for moral improvement, or as 'messages' for the reader. Instead, Landy identifies what he calls 'formative fiction'--literature that trains the reader in the act of reading itself--a compelling and refreshing study."
--Francoise Meltzer, author of Seeing Double: Baudelaire's Modernity


"This terrific book pulls no punches in engaging with scholarly debates, critiquing an array of knowledge-seeking approaches to fiction. Landy's constructive work, exemplified in the verve and affection with which he treats his 'formative fictions,' is persistently humane and practical, pressing us for openness to the vital exercise fictions offer." --Eileen John, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick


"If we persist in reading complicated books for something more than their plot, Landy has at least given us a series of thoughtful and persuasive reasons for doing so." --The Guardian


"It is rare to read a work in which the sense comes through so fully of what it must be like to sit in the author's classroom; in this case, it is clear that Stanford students enjoy an intellectual treat, one now available to many others...Essential." --Choice


"The book's philosophical strength lies in its sophisticated readings of certain philosophical and literary works as ethically significant rather than morally didactic...these readings will prove provocative for philosophers and literary scholars alike...For those receptive to it, this is a richly rewarding text." --Philosophy in Review


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why does Plato s Socrates make bad arguments? Why do we root for criminal heroes? In mummy movies, why is the skeptic always the first to go? Why don t stage magicians even pretend to summon spirits any more? Why is Samuel Beckett so confusing? And why is it worth trying to answer questions like these? Witty and approachable, How to Do Things with Fictions challenges the widespread assumption that literary texts must be informative or morally improving to be of any real benefit. It reveals that authors are often best thought of not as entertainers or as educators but as personal trainers of the brain, putting their willing readers through exercises that fortify their mental capacities. This book is both deeply insightful and rigorously argued, and the journey delivers plenty of surprises along the way-that moral readings of literature can be positively dangerous; that the parables were deliberately designed to be misunderstood; that Plato knowingly sets his main character up for a fall; that we can sustain our beliefs even when we suspect them to be illusions; and more. Perhaps best of all, though, the book is written with uncommon verve and a light touch that will satisfy the generally educated public and the specialist reader alike. In How to Do things with Fictions, Joshua Landy convincingly shows how the imaginative writings sitting on our shelves may well be our best allies in the struggle for more rigorous thinking, deeper faith, greater peace of mind, and richer experience. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780195188561

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why does Plato s Socrates make bad arguments? Why do we root for criminal heroes? In mummy movies, why is the skeptic always the first to go? Why don t stage magicians even pretend to summon spirits any more? Why is Samuel Beckett so confusing? And why is it worth trying to answer questions like these? Witty and approachable, How to Do Things with Fictions challenges the widespread assumption that literary texts must be informative or morally improving to be of any real benefit. It reveals that authors are often best thought of not as entertainers or as educators but as personal trainers of the brain, putting their willing readers through exercises that fortify their mental capacities. This book is both deeply insightful and rigorously argued, and the journey delivers plenty of surprises along the way-that moral readings of literature can be positively dangerous; that the parables were deliberately designed to be misunderstood; that Plato knowingly sets his main character up for a fall; that we can sustain our beliefs even when we suspect them to be illusions; and more. Perhaps best of all, though, the book is written with uncommon verve and a light touch that will satisfy the generally educated public and the specialist reader alike. In How to Do things with Fictions, Joshua Landy convincingly shows how the imaginative writings sitting on our shelves may well be our best allies in the struggle for more rigorous thinking, deeper faith, greater peace of mind, and richer experience. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780195188561

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