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30 review for Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christian Haines

    De Man is often merely lumped together with Derrida, Miller, and others aas representatives of "Deconstruction." There is a certain truth to this, but it is perhaps more useful to think of De Man in terms of a turn towards or return to rhetoric. Rhetoric is that material element of language consisting of tropes that makes attempts to abstract an interpretation of a text from the language of the text impossible or always already a failure. The essays in this volume are each an intervention into v De Man is often merely lumped together with Derrida, Miller, and others aas representatives of "Deconstruction." There is a certain truth to this, but it is perhaps more useful to think of De Man in terms of a turn towards or return to rhetoric. Rhetoric is that material element of language consisting of tropes that makes attempts to abstract an interpretation of a text from the language of the text impossible or always already a failure. The essays in this volume are each an intervention into various tendencies in then contemporary criticism - Lukacs, New Criticism, Derrida, etc. They each orient the reader towards the relation between reader and text, especially towards the abstractions (or assumptions or jumps) that each interpreter tends to make. One of the main themes this volume is the questioning of the possibility of "literary history". De Man sees literature as an art that aims for presence, for an immediacy that it cannot but fail to achieve. From this, he will argue, it follows that a literary history intent on spreading literature over an axis leading from past to future (a genetic history) necessarily misses the object of literature. I am not sure that I accept his argument, but De Man's opening up of the problem of history is a significant project (see others like F. Jameson, S. Greenblatt, H. White etc. for similar if opposed missions). One last note: while many claim that "Deconstruction" is purely negative, that it takes interpretation apart without contributing anything interesting or significant, this not only neglects how important posing new questions is but also the complexity and potential of the field of rhetoric that it reopened.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Terry Tsurugi

    I just reread this book after a gap of about 15 years (it's probably at least my sixth time rereading "Rhetoric of Temporality"). It's much more difficult following De Man's arguments all the way through now that I'm no longer a fresh young student. Also, the long passages of untranslated French and German quotes are a stumbling block, since I'm pretty rusty in both of those languages. Despite these difficulties, De Man is still the most interesting and inspiring writer on literature I've ever r I just reread this book after a gap of about 15 years (it's probably at least my sixth time rereading "Rhetoric of Temporality"). It's much more difficult following De Man's arguments all the way through now that I'm no longer a fresh young student. Also, the long passages of untranslated French and German quotes are a stumbling block, since I'm pretty rusty in both of those languages. Despite these difficulties, De Man is still the most interesting and inspiring writer on literature I've ever read, and this is one of my favorite collections of his work.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    This paragraph in an essay by Louis Menand in the 3/24/14 New Yorker aroused my interest in this 1971 collection of De Man's writings. Most people would agree that one of the things that make literature different from philosophy and self-help books is that in nonliterary texts rhetorical devices and figures of speech are incidental to the meaning, and in literary texts that sort of language - metaphors, symbols, allegories, all the forms and styles of fiction - are sources of meaning. We don't re This paragraph in an essay by Louis Menand in the 3/24/14 New Yorker aroused my interest in this 1971 collection of De Man's writings. Most people would agree that one of the things that make literature different from philosophy and self-help books is that in nonliterary texts rhetorical devices and figures of speech are incidental to the meaning, and in literary texts that sort of language - metaphors, symbols, allegories, all the forms and styles of fiction - are sources of meaning. We don't read literature literally. We assume that what is meant is more than, or other than, what the words literally say. This is the belief that de Man complicated (as he also complicated the belief that philosophical writing is fundamentally not figurative and rhetorical). At this point though I either have to abort the mission, or find the Cliff's Notes for this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    "Blindness" serves as Paul de Man's trope for cognition. Our acts of interpretation necessarily result in spatialization, the formation of "gaps," as we literally only see certain parts of the text. The blindness enables our insight, for if all were foregrounded, nothing would be foregrounded. The only complete representation of the text is its replication. De Man depicts the lateral movement of interpretation by the term allegory. His use of allegory differs from its usual thematic connotations "Blindness" serves as Paul de Man's trope for cognition. Our acts of interpretation necessarily result in spatialization, the formation of "gaps," as we literally only see certain parts of the text. The blindness enables our insight, for if all were foregrounded, nothing would be foregrounded. The only complete representation of the text is its replication. De Man depicts the lateral movement of interpretation by the term allegory. His use of allegory differs from its usual thematic connotations (such as the didacticism seen in Everyman) and refers instead to allegory's narrative impulse: a fragmented, metonymic, contiguous and diachronic passage along a horizontal axis. Significantly, the writer--who is simultaneously reading his/her own text and s/he writes it--similarly highlights and represses what s/he is trying to represent. In the process of narrative, "like music, langugage is a diachronic system of relationships." De Man sees literary language, then, caught it a double-blind, its blindness inscribed into the very act of writing--of revelation--itself.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ned

    The best essays in this collection are an elegant foray into the nature of reading, challenging established approaches to textual analysis. De Man's sparkling intelligence and depth makes this an essential work for understanding deconstruction, particularly in its early American incarnation. The most moving thing about engaging with De Man is that he forces you to question every preconception, opening up new and previously unimaginable avenues of thought.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jared Colley

    Another great collection of essays from one of the best readers of literature.... There is an interesting engagement with Derrida in this volume involving both figures' readings of Rousseau.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Watson

    Blah. But then, I really dislike literary criticism.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    De Man is capable of some really fine readings, but it seems like success comes at the roll of the dice with his method, and I'm just not sold on deconstructionism.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jamieson

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kuntal Sarkar

  12. 4 out of 5

    Blivorsy

  13. 5 out of 5

    Allen Severino

  14. 4 out of 5

    Josh Plattner

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rick

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gregsamsa

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heather

  18. 4 out of 5

    Atasagun

  19. 4 out of 5

    Loesja

  20. 5 out of 5

    Steph

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  22. 5 out of 5

    nick

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vera Y.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Murawski

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tsuipen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  28. 4 out of 5

    Roger Whitson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alessio

  30. 5 out of 5

    Göker Makaskıran

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