The Imposition of Form

The Imposition of Form: Studies in Narrative Representation and Knowledge

CLAUDIA J. BRODSKY
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 342
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvprw
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  • Book Info
    The Imposition of Form
    Book Description:

    Claudia Brodsky skillfully combines close readings of narrative works by Goethe, Austen, Balzac, Stendhal, Melville, and Proust with a detailed analysis of the relation between Kant's critical epistemology and narrative theory.

    Originally published in 1987.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5874-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PART 1. THE IMPOSITION OF FORM
    • CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
      (pp. 3-20)

      This work investigates narrative as a literary form composed of and presenting a particular paradox. That paradox, which the following chapters attempt to describe through analyses of specific eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century texts,¹ can perhaps be best introduced by a brief summation of the basic directions I perceive the study of narrative to take.

      As the term “narratology,” used currently to signify a broad variety of analytic methods, succinctly conveys, narrative is the literary form most generally understood to foster its own logical understanding. Defined as the means by which a story is told,² narrative is seen to combine all...

    • CHAPTER 2 KANT AND NARRATIVE THEORY
      (pp. 21-87)

      When Heinrich von Kleist wrote precipitously to Wilhelmine von Zenge in 1801, “Mein einziges, mein höchstes Ziel ist gesunken, und ich habe keines mehr” [My only, my highest goal has sunken, and I have none left],¹ it was not to some reversal imposed upon their formal engagement that he referred, nor to any disillusionment on his part with the romantic attachment between them. The reason Kleist gave Wilhelmine for the sense of purposelessness he had come to suffer was his reading of the critical philosophy of Imannuel Kant. “Wenn alle Menschen statt der Augen grune Glaser hatten.” [If all men...

    • CHAPTER 3 THE COLORING OF RELATIONS: DIE WAHLVERWANDTSCHAFTEN AS FARBENLEHRE
      (pp. 88-138)

      The technical translation of DieWahlverwandtschaftenas “Elective Affinities” may be seen to be related to the larger interpretative problems complicating any understanding of the novel as a whole. The individual parts of the compound German noun are, of course,Wahl(choice) andVerwandtschaften(kin, or [family or blood] relations), their literal or lexical translation as a unit yelding “chosen kin” (or “blood relations of choice”) as the novel’s more immediately paradoxical title. An unexpected discrepancy arises here upon inspection between the “technical” and “literal” significations of a single term. Thus the attempt to identify the equivalent of “Wahlverwandtschaften” in...

  5. PART 2. FORMS OF NARRATION
    • CHAPTER 4 AUSTEN: THE PERSUASIONS OF SENSIBILITY AND SENSE
      (pp. 141-187)

      Of the authors treated in this study, Austen is most strictly an author of narrative. No other explicitly critical, poetic, or speculative writings offer us directly conceptual or theoretical access to her novels. Jane Austen is first and last a novelist, and if irony, as Goethe’sWahlverwandtschaftensuggests, and as Luákcs’sTheory of the Novelargued critically a century later,¹ is the condition of representation inherent inallnovels, then Austen, in the view of recent Austen criticism, appears the critics’ novelist par excellence. The mention of all the studies of Austen which incorporate the concept of “irony” into their...

    • CHAPTER 5 LUCIEN AND JULIEN: POETRY AND THOUGHT IN THE FORM OF THE NOVEL
      (pp. 188-227)

      Between Austen and Balzac lies little temporal but enormous representational difference; and if both Goethe and Austen, while writing in the nineteenth century, seem peculiarly eighteenth-century novelists, few novelists can be said to “represent” the nineteenth century, both as “real life” and in its forms of fiction, as thoroughly as Balzac. It is not difficult to identify, in theme and in diction, the presence of epistemological concerns in the narratives of Goethe and Austen: whether in the form of discursive figuration or of external, observable events, both authors relate narrative representation to experiences of cognition. But of all the experiences...

    • CHAPTER 6 THE DETERMINATION OF PIERRE, OR THE AMBIGUITIES
      (pp. 228-261)

      In the story of Herman Melville’s career as a writer, no work plays as central or determining a role as hisPierre, Or the Ambiguities. Written during the winter following the publication ofMoby Dickin 1851,Pierre. . . is the single work Melville made known he hoped would turn his failing critical and financial fortunes around.¹ Vigorously and unilaterally denounced when published, it has since become best known for the forty year “silence” which succeeded it. For the appearance ofPierre. . . did effectively transform its author’s fortunes—from the precarious condition of artistic promise...

    • CHAPTER 7 REMEMBERING SWANN
      (pp. 262-306)

      Not even that culinary extravagance attributed to a chef in Napoleon’s employ which was fated, by the mistranslation of its name, to serve the further fame of its maker’s master, is likely to have more greatly contributed to the international recognition afforded French pastries than the formative reference made to one of the latter in the narrative undertaking of Marcel Proust. Moreover, while the intricate style of description which has prompted the critical comparison of Proustian composition with the spatially superimposed form of the palimpseste¹ may, by coincidence, be seen to be most suggestive of the many-layered artifice of the...

  6. CODA
    (pp. 307-308)

    TheRechercheprovides a fitting conclusion to the analysis of narrative presented in this work in that it takes the reader back to the beginning. Both Proust’s novel and Kant’s schematic epistemology indicate that all knowledge of experience takes representational narrative form. Kant proposes that since the “forms” of experience are givena priori, experience itself is simultaneously its representation. Proust narrates an autobiographical story whose major theme is the proposition that we first see cognitively when we look back at experience: that we can only know reality when we no longer experience, but rather represent it to ourselves over...

  7. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 309-326)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 327-331)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 332-332)