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Forms of Modernity

Forms of Modernity: Don Quixoteand Modern Theories of the Novel

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 384
  • Book Info
    Forms of Modernity
    Book Description:

    InForms of Modernity, Rachel Schmidt examines how seminal theorists and philosophers have wrestled with the status of Cervantes'Don Quixoteis as an 'exemplary novel', in turn contributing to the emergence of key concepts within genre theory.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9418-7
    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-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Abbreviations for Cited Material
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. Note on Translations and Quotations
    (pp. xxi-2)
  7. 1 Don Quixote and the Problem of Modernity
    (pp. 3-46)

    Don Quixote de la Manchais a great novel about art, about the way it creates – and deforms – societies and persons. By taking Cervantes’Don Quixoteas the basis for a novelistics, one posits that the novel as genre explores the power of art. The theories of the novel that I trace here represent a thoroughgoing questioning of the novel understood as ‘realist,’ in which mimesis is considered as faithful copying or reflection of what is ‘real.’ We take from Friedrich Schlegel, Georg Lukács, Hermann Cohen, Miguel de Unamuno, José Ortega y Gasset, and Mikhail Bakhtin, as well...

  8. 2 Arabesques and the Modern Novel: Friedrich Schlegel’s Interpretation of Don Quixote
    (pp. 47-81)

    One of the most important early theorists of the novel is the German Romantic Friedrich Schlegel, who proposed a radically new understanding of the genre as part of the circle of young writers and literati in Jena at the turn of the nineteenth century. Although he, as well as his brother August Wilhelm, simplified and perhaps even bastardized the thought of his youth in their conservative, popularizing writings and seminars of the 1830s, Friedrich’s early musings continue to interest literary theorists to this day. In addition, Hispanists have attributed to Friedrich Schlegel’s reading ofDon Quixotesuch importance that he...

  9. 3 The Emptiness of the Arabesque: Georg Lukács’s Theory of the Novel
    (pp. 82-119)

    Georg Lukács’sThe Theory of the Novelpresents us with a challenge commonly associated with canonical works of literature: the hermeneutic task of attempting to read it within the moment it appeared. Few other works of literary theory are so obviously tinged by subsequent interpretive history; therefore, it is necessary at some moment to acknowledge its specificity, that is to say, to lift it from the author’s lifework and appreciate it as a work unique to itself. The young Lukács began writing this essay on the eve of the First World War, and first published it in 1916 in the...

  10. 4 Ideas and Forms: Hermann Cohen’s Novelistics
    (pp. 120-161)

    Hermann Cohen, a neo-Kantian professor of philosophy from the University of Marburg, serves as the pivotal figure of this history of the theories ofDon Quixoteand the modern novel. He is the mentor with whom Ortega wrestles, the standard-bearer of the philosophical idealism that Lukács eventually and definitively rejects, and the figure of neo-Kantianism that beckons to Bakhtin. Although his name has been forgotten, Cohen’s work left a legacy to the field of literary theory, specifically the theory of the novel. Unlike the field of philosophy, where his ideas have been erased, Cohen’s notion of the modern novel –...

  11. 5 The Poetics of Resuscitation: Unamuno’s Anti-Novelistics
    (pp. 162-196)

    Miguel de Unamuno, novelist, poet, philosopher, professor of Greek, and rector of the University of Salamanca, lived a life-long struggle with Cervantes. Born in 1864, some three centuries after Cervantes’ birth, Unamuno found his greatest intellectual and artistic antagonist to be the author ofDon Quixote. When read against the backdrop of the various theories of the novel explored in this book, Unamuno’s writings onDon Quixotepresent an anti-novelistics in which the major tendencies that unite Schlegel, Lukács, Cohen, and Ortega are denied, if not overtly ignored. Nowhere, for instance, does Unamuno consider the novel as opposed to –...

  12. 6 Form Foreshortened: Ortega y Gasset’s Meditations on Don Quixote
    (pp. 197-235)

    ‘IsDon Quixote, perchance, only a silly romp?’¹ With this quotation from Hermann Cohen, the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset begins his first major work,Meditations on Don Quixote(1914).² The question posed by the German philosopher is clearly rhetorical, since the interpretation of Cervantes’ parody of chivalric romances as an ultimately serious endeavour had firmly taken root in both the German intellectual and popular traditions. For both philologists and philosophers, the humour of Don Quixote’s mishaps belied the ultimately profound critique of modernity offered by the novel. For the lay reader, Don Quixote was the noble fool, and...

  13. 7 Don Quixote in Bakhtin
    (pp. 236-267)

    The figure of Mikhail Bakhtin offered to Western academics in the last half of the twentieth century atabula rasaupon which to inscribe almost any image they desired. Ignored by Soviet authorities when his work was not actually being censored, he was largely unknown during his lifetime outside of the Soviet Union. Among the first to bring to the West Bakhtin’s ideas were Tzevtan Todorov and Julia Kristeva, who, in accordance with their own intellectual profiles, presented him as a precursor of post-structuralism. Nonetheless, many contemporary Russian academics tend to reject facile characterizations of a ‘postmodern’ Bakhtin, and insist...

  14. 8 Revolutions and the Novel
    (pp. 268-310)

    One way to define modernity is as a time of permanent revolution. This oxymoronic assertion poses the question: how can revolution be permanent? Revolutions work in forward motion, radically severing the present from the past and redirecting it toward an imagined future. Revolutions do not go into reverse (although someone of the opposition might find a revolution reactionary), nor do they themselves represent a desired state of social and political affairs that one would wish to sustain. Revolutions are teleological, aimed toward an ideal future. According to Hannah Arendt, both the idea of freedom and a desire for (or an...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 311-346)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 347-376)
  17. Index
    (pp. 377-403)