Richard Eldridge explores the ability of dense and formally
interesting literature to respond to the complexities of modern
life. Beyond simple entertainment, difficult modern works cultivate
reflective depth and help their readers order and interpret their
lives as subjects in relation to complex economies and
technological systems. By imagining themselves in the role of the
protagonist or the authorial persona, readers become immersed in
structures of sustained attention, under which concrete
possibilities of meaningful life, along with difficulties that
block their realization, are tracked and clarified.
Literary form, Eldridge argues, generates structures of care,
reflection, and investment within readers, shaping-if not
stabilizing-their interactions with everyday objects and events.
Through the experience of literary forms of attention, readers may
come to think and live more actively, more fully engaging with
modern life, rather than passively suffering it. Eldridge considers
the thought of Descartes, Kant, Adorno, Benjamin, Stanley Cavell,
and Charles Taylor in his discussion of Goethe, Wordsworth, Rilke,
Stoppard, and Sebald, advancing a philosophy of literature that
addresses our desire to read and the meaning and satisfaction that
literary attention brings to our fragmented modern lives.
Subjects: Philosophy, Language & Literature
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