Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture (Routledge Classics)

Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture (Routledge Classics)

Stephen Greenblatt

Language: English

Pages: 246

ISBN: 0415771609

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Stephen Greenblatt argued in these celebrated essays that the art of the Renaissance could only be understood in the context of the society from which it sprang. His approach - 'New Historicism' - drew from history, anthropology, Marxist theory, post-structuralism, and psychoanalysis and in the process, blew apart the academic boundaries insulating literature from the world around it.

Learning to Curse charts the evolution of that approach and provides a vivid and compelling exploration of a complex and contradictory epoch.

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pastor, that their tithes be distributed to the poor and needy in the same villages in which these tithes were collected, that they be allowed to hunt, fish, and gather wood, that rents be regulated and the death tax abolished, that enclosures of common fields be stopped. Above all, as Luther had proclaimed that Christ had purchased with his own blood the freedom of all Christians, so the peasants proclaimed that they would no longer be owned as property and demanded the abolition of serfdom and

Arcadia goes on to attribute the defeat of the uprising not to the power of the sword but to the power of the word. The sword is inadequate because of the size of the multitude: the “very killing,” Sidney writes, begins to weary the princes who fear “lest in long fight they should be conquered with conquering” (380). Sidney then acknowledges the inability of superior force alone to protect rulers against a popular rebellion; the heroes’ military prowess suffices only to enable them and the royal

Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), p. 20. 3 See Mark Poster, “Foucault, Poststructuralism, and the Mode of Information,” in The Aims of Representation. 4 Jameson himself does not directly account for the sudden reversal in his thinking; he suggests rather that it is not his thinking that has changed but capitalism itself. Following Ernest Mandel, he suggests that we have moved into late capitalism, and in this state cultural

the relationship between these circumstances and our own. New historicist critics have tried to understand the intersecting circumstances not as a stable, prefabricated background against which the literary texts can be placed, but as a dense network of evolving and often contradictory social forces. The idea is not to find outside the work of art some rock onto which literary interpretation can be securely chained but rather to situate the work in relation to other representational practices

and the random accidents of trivial incompetence. Even these accidents—the marks of a literal fragility—can have their resonance: the climax of an absurdly hagiographical Proust exhibition several years ago was a display case holding a small, patched, modest vase with a notice, “This vase broken by Marcel Proust.” As this comical example suggests, wounded artifacts may be compelling not only as witnesses to the violence of history but as signs of use, marks of the human touch, and hence links

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