Afterimages of modernity : structure and indifference in twentieth-century literature /

Main Author: Sussman, Henry.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, c1990.
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Review by Choice Review

As in his most recent work, The Hegelian Aftermath (1982), Sussman (SUNY at Buffalo) here concerns himself with the relationship of literature and philosophy. The literature is modernist (Joyce, Kafka, Borges) and postmodernist (Beckett), measured with the philosophical method of Jacques Derrida. Not surprisingly, the great modernists are revealed as structuralists, and postmodernists as poststructuralists, giving Sussman's entire effort a hint of tautology. It is unfortunate that his prose is so densely Derridean because Sussman is a gifted explicator of texts, certainly one of the best on Kafka in English. Marred only by a turgid digression on Wittgenstein, his three chapters about Kafka anchor the book and extend insights from his earlier study, Franz Kafka Geometrician of Metaphor (1979). The treatment of Borges is relatively clear and to the point, especially in demonstrating the rich connections to Kafka's short fiction. In his grander generalizations about the 20th century, however, Sussman seems to be looking through the wrong end of a Derridean telescope. Recommended only for graduate libraries. -P. E. Bishop, Valencia Community College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.