The Vanishing Subject
Early Psychology and Literary Modernism
By (author) Judith Ryan
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Vanishing Subject by Judith Ryan
Book DescriptionIs thinking personal? Or should we not rather say, "it thinks," just as we say, "it rains"? In the late nineteenth century a number of psychologies emerged that began to divorce consciousness from the notion of a personal self. They asked whether subject and object are truly distinct, whether consciousness is unified or composed of disparate elements, what grounds exist for regarding today's "self" as continuous with yesterday's. If the American pragmatist William James declared himself, on balance, in favor of a "real and verifiable personal identity which we feel," his Austrian counterpart, the empiricist Ernst Mach, propounded the view that "the self is unsalvageable." "The Vanishing Subject" is the first comprehensive study of the impact of these pre-Freudian debates on modernist literature. In lucid and engaging prose, Ryan traces a complex set of filiations between writers and thinkers over a sixty-year period and restores a lost element in the genesis and development of modernism. From writers who see the "self" as nothing more or less than a bundle of sensory impressions, Ryan moves to others who hesitate between empiricist and Freudian views of subjectivity and consciousness, and to those who wish to salvage the self from its apparent disintegration. Finally, she looks at a group of writers who abandon not only the dualisms of subject and object, but dualistic thinking altogether. Literary impressionism, stream-of-consciousness and point-of-view narration, and the question of epiphany in literature acquire a new aspect when seen in the context of the "psychologies without the self." Rilke's development of a position akin to phenomenology, Henry and Alice James's relation to their psychologist brother, Kafka's place in the modernist movements, Joyce's rewriting of Pater, Proust's engagement with contemporary thought, Woolf's presentation of consciousness, and Musil's projection of a utopian counter-reality are problems familiar to readers and critics: "The Vanishing Subject" radically revises the way we see them.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780226732268
(236mm x 159mm x 22mm)
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 1-Aug-1991
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Judith Ryan
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art in the Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Paperback (April 2015)
Cambridge Introduction to German Poetry, Hardback (November 2012)
Exploring traditional poems alongside new examples, this Introduction conveys the rich rewards that come with reading German poetry.
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This important exhibition features 200 of the first paintings produced at Papunya in 1971 to 72 by the founding artists of the Western Desert art movement. These seminal works sparked the genesis of the Papunya Tula movement, now internationally recognised as one of the most important events in Australian art history.
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Author Biography - Judith Ryan
Judith Ryan is the Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Harvard University.
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