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Dualisms: The Agon of the Modern Era

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 472
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Dualismsis a tour-de-force, encompassing intellectual history, philosophy, theology, and literary criticism. It provides fresh perspectives on some of the most famous intellectual debates in all of literature, and considers the implications that they continue to have for the study of the humanities in the modern world.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8428-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    They stand together and apart. They rule together and apart. They fall together and apart. And in some ways they are revived together and apart. As a kind of epitaph, this describes the course of the cross-rivalries, which I call dualisms, that prevailed between such pre-eminent figures as Luther and Erasmus, Voltaire and Rousseau, Turgenev and Dostoevsky, and Sartre and Camus. Although not exclusive to it, one of the persistent characteristics of modern Western culture – and more necessarily so since the Renaissance and Reformation – is the evident need to bring together pairs of authors, or other figures of the creative...

  5. 1 Erasmus and Luther: First and Foremost, a Pattern Established
    (pp. 23-97)

    For many reasons, the epochal encounter between Erasmus and Luther is the first and foremost dualism of the modern world.¹ It embodies the convergence and the eventual separation of the two most formative movements of our era, the Renaissance and the Reformation. We have lived and continue to live in the midst of their competing demands. In their own itinerary of encounter, Erasmus and Luther encapsulate both the early hopes of this dual resurgence and the consequences of their divorce. Their mutual involvements, their character and being, and all the signposts along the way arise out of their individual traits...

  6. 2 Voltaire and Rousseau: Never a Peace
    (pp. 98-186)

    At long last in a famous letter of 1760, Rousseau found the means to unburden himself directly of his hostility towards Voltaire.¹ ‘I do not like you at all,’ he writes. ‘In short, I hate you.’ Such outspoken clarity does not come overnight. In fact, in Rousseau’s case it came as the result of nearly thirty years of complex emotional involvement with the great figure of Voltaire, at one time his mentor in so many ways. While Theodore Besterman, among the most esteemed and creditable Voltaire scholars of the twentieth century, can claim that Rousseau’s letter is the expression of...

  7. 3 Passages of History: From Mundanity to Philosophy
    (pp. 187-204)

    Exemplary and influential contributions have given dualisms a changeful history of their own. But it was at the turn of the eighteenth century that dualisms acquired an urgency of form and focus. Reasons for this new leverage are clear. One is the convergence of the divisive issues of religion and revolution. In the intense debates, charges and counter-charges filled the air, as matters became more heated – and lethal. While opposition was rife, needing no added incentive, standing behind the divisions was the ready-made dualism, already canonical, between Voltaire and Rousseau. Although at first they were jointly celebrated as harbingers of...

  8. 4 Turgenev and Dostoevsky: ‘What Is There in Common?’
    (pp. 205-293)

    Unlike those of the first two dualisms of this study, the conflict between Turgenev and Dostoevsky was aggravated by personal contact where apparent friendship concealed a deep antipathy. ‘They met them on the day of their success,’ when, in the mid-1840s, as budding talents and rising stars, they gathered in the brilliant circle of Vissarion Belinsky (1811–48). While there were other candidates, it was upon Turgenev and Dostoevsky that the burden and the challenge of a true dualism descended, as personal antagonism soon led to a rupture and intellectual dissent. Reconciliation followed in the early 1860s, only to be...

  9. 5 Sartre and Camus: ‘Revolt Changes Camps’
    (pp. 294-395)

    The dramatic rupture between Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus had its immediate origins in the most unlikely of places – a book review.¹ Francis Jeanson’s adverse criticism of Camus’sL’homme révoltéappeared in the May 1952 issue ofLes temps modernes.The August issue carried the combined weight of Camus’s bitter response, Sartre’s brutal attack, and Jeanson’s rebuttal. While the debate attests to the intensity of Parisian intellectual life, especially in the contentious and divisive period of the postwar years, it also indicates that more is at work here, precisely what it has been the business of dualisms to uncover. Through...

  10. Epilogue
    (pp. 396-400)

    One can terminate but not bring to completion a work such asDualisms, whose theme is so expansive and still expanding (even as I write, multiple additions could still be made to the preface’s first endnote). Across a wide spectrum of interests the theme continues its advance. The preface also indicated other dualisms that could have been included. While as a scholar-critic I have been drawn to those figures who affirm the validity of the literary imagination and the value of literary studies, dualisms’ extensive field of concepts and methods can provide transformative centres applicable to the sister arts, to...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 401-432)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 433-444)
  13. Index
    (pp. 445-451)