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Description - Literature, Theory, and Common Sense by Antoine Compagnon

In the late-20th century, the common sense approach to literature was deemed naive. Roland Barthes proclaimed the death of the author, and Hillis Miller declared that all interpretation is theoretical. In many a literature department, graduate students spent far more time on Derrida and Foucault thatn on Shakespeare and Milton. Despite this, common sense approaches to literature - including the belief that literature represents reality and authorial intentions matter - have resisted theory with tenacity. As a result, argues Antoine Compagnon, theorists have gone to extremes, boxed themselves into paradoxes and distanced others from their ideas. Assessing the accomplishments and failings of literary theory, Compagnon ultimately defends the mthods and goals of a theoretical commitment tempered by the wisdom of common sense. While it constitutes an engaging introduction to recent theoretical debates, the book is organized not by school of thought but around seven central questions: literariness, the author, the world, the reader, style, history and value. What makes a work of literature? Does fiction imitate reality? Is the readerpresent in the text? What constitutes style? Is the context in which a work is written important to its apprehension? Are literary values universal? As he examines how theory has wrestled these themes, Compagnon estabalishes not a simple middle-ground but a state of productive tension between high theory and common sense.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780691070421
ISBN-10: 0691070423
Format: Hardback
(235mm x 152mm x mm)
Pages: 232
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 6-Jul-2004
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Antoine Compagnon

Antoine Compagnon is Blanche W. Knopf Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Professor of Literature at the Sorbonne.

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