Phenomenology and Literature: An Introduction

Phenomenology and Literature: An Introduction (Hardback)

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 Phenomenology and Literature: An Introduction
Purdue University Press

Book Description

Intended as an introduction to phenomenological criticism, this book should become a valuable aid to scholars of literature.

Part One describes the practical criticism of the Geneva School and of the hermeneutics of Martin Heidegger.  It also infers literary theory from this practice and then compares such theory with the tenets of Parisian Structuralism.  Among the Geneva critics treated are Georges Poulet, Jean-Pierre Richard, Jean Rousset, and Jean Starobinski.  The influence of Edmund Husserl on these critics receives special attention.  Elaborate background information is provided so that Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Ludwig Binswanger may be discussed.

Part Two critiques phenomenological literary theory and provides the only English-language commentary on Roman Ingarden's Das literarische Kuntswerk and Mikel Dufrenne's Phenomenologie de l'expereience esthetique.  It is deomonstrated that Dufrenne's work suffers a fatal flaw: vacillation between a Cartesian and a Heideggerian epistemology.

Ultimately, Part Two is a comparative study of four phenomenologists - Husserl, Ingarden, Dufrenne, Heidegger - and one non-phenomenologist, E. D. Hirsch.  Husserl, Heidegger, and Hirsch are addressed specific questions; Ingarden and Dufrenne are asked the same questions en passant, as part of the more global treatments of their respective books.

The question asked are crucial ones for any theorist of literature:  What is meaning?  When a text can present several senses, which is the valid sense?  What does one do in the face of multiple meanings?  What if a word projects contradictory senses?  The last chapter offers an original Heideggerian solution to these dilemmas.

About the Author(s):

Princeton University, Ph.D., 1970 (Comparative Lit., specialization in philosophical and literary hermeneutics); M.A., 1968 (comparative literature);  St. Joseph's College of Philadelphia, B.A.. 1965 (English, with minors in French and Philosophy).