Sacrificing Commentary: Reading the End of Literature

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9780801850844: Sacrificing Commentary: Reading the End of Literature
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In Sacrificing Commentary Sandor Goodhart proposes a new view of literary reading, arguing that the writing we have designated as "literary" is in fact a form of commentary or critical reading. In the case of our most important cultural documents -- Shakespeare, for instance, or Sophocles -- this commentary remains our most powerful inquiry into questions of reading, aesthetics, violence, and ethical responsibility

.To support his argument, Goodhart offers a close analysis of Sophocles's Oedipus Tyrannus, Shakespeare's Richard II, four passages from the Hebrew Torah (the story of Joseph and his brothers, the ten commandments, the story of Jonah, and the story of Job), and a talk given shortly after the war by Yiddish poet and playwright Halpern Leivick. Goodhart concludes that criticism as we know it within a formal academic humanities setting, far from expounding the critical reading a given work makes available to us, more often acts out or repeats the very structures or conflicts which are its subject matter. As a result, the most powerful forms of commentary upon our myth-making capacities may be found less in these critical texts than in the literary texts they model and whose perspectives they would usurp.

"Exploring themes introduced in his well-known essay on Oedipus, Goodhart concludes that literature is best understood as an interpretation of criticism. The demystifications provided by critics are often recreations of the myths that literary texts attempt to expose. Others have suggested as much, but have not pursued the issue, as he and Renè Girard do, to the foundations of Western thought. His dialogic relation to Girard illuminates both the Judaic and Christian traditions." -- Wallace Martin, University of Toledo

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Sandor Goodhart teaches English and comparative literature at Whitman College.

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"Exploring themes introduced in his well-known essay on Oedipus, Goodhart concludes that literature is best understood as an interpretation of criticism. The demystifications provided by critics are often recreations of the myths that literary texts attempt to expose. Others have suggested as much, but have not pursued the issue, as he and Renè Girard do, to the foundations of Western thought. His dialogic relation to Girard illuminates both the Judaic and Christian traditions." -- Wallace Martin, University of Toledo

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