Kojin Karatani wrote the essays in History and
Repetition during a time of radical historical change,
triggered by the collapse of the Cold War and the death of the
Showa emperor in 1989. Reading Karl Marx in an original way,
Karatani developed a theory of history based on the repetitive
cycle of crises attending the expansion and transformation of
capital. His work led to a rigorous analysis of political,
economic, and literary forms of representation that recast
historical events as a series of repeated forms forged in the
transitional moments of global capitalism.
History and Repetition cemented Karatani's reputation
as one of Japan's premier thinkers, capable of traversing the
fields of philosophy, political economy, history, and literature in
his work. The first complete translation of History and
Repetition into English, undertaken with the cooperation of
Karatani himself, this volume opens with his innovative reading of
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, tracing Marx's
early theoretical formulation of the state. Karatani follows with a
study of violent crises as they recur after major transitions of
power, developing his theory of historical repetition and
introducing a groundbreaking interpretation of fascism (in both
Europe and Japan) as the spectral return of the absolutist monarch
in the midst of a crisis of representative democracy.
For Karatani, fascism represents the most violent
materialization of the repetitive mechanism of history. Yet he also
seeks out singularities that operate outside the brutal
inevitability of historical repetition, whether represented in
literature or, more precisely, in the process of literature's
demise. Closely reading the works of Oe Kenzaburo, Mishima Yukio,
Nakagami Kenji, and Murakami Haruki, Karatani compares the
recurrent and universal with the singular and unrepeatable, while
advancing a compelling theory of the decline of modern literature.
Merging theoretical arguments with a concrete analysis of cultural
and intellectual history, Karatani's essays encapsulate a
brilliant, multidisciplinary perspective on world history.
Subjects: History, Language & Literature, Philosophy
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