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This polemical book reveals the basic tenets of what may be called a 'poetics of singularity' in Martin Heidegger, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida and the strange late essays of Hans Georg Gadamer. At issue is the at first simple, even familiar, idea that literary or poetic 'meaning' cannot be stated in terms other than its own, that a text strives towards the status of being an example, if of anything, only of itself, sole witness of what it alone projects. This issue opens a series of powerful questions concerning basic features of Western thought - about the nature of understanding, on Kierkegaard's 'singular individual' that is yet each human life in its exceptionality, of the uniqueness of historical testimony, the nature of community. The Poetics of Singularity forms an ethically compelling alternative to the currently dominant cultural/social studies paradigm in literary criticism, a neo-Darwinian understanding of art and life which is sometimes only a disguised version of American nationalism. Features * An original work of scholarship combining elucidation, research and polemics. * Identifies a forceful tradition of twentieth-century poetics - which differs from received ideas of 'deconstruction' - which the author names 'the poetics of singularity'. * Makes available in English some previously untranslated material in the chapters on Heidegger and Gadamer, and covers relatively unknown texts by Blanchot and some very recent work by Derrida.
Edinburgh University Press
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