On the Primacy of Texts in Literary Criticism

Edited by Raymond Adolph Prier

Series: SUNY series, The Margins of Literature
Paperback : 9780791409428, 302 pages, July 1992
Hardcover : 9780791409411, 302 pages, July 1992

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Table of contents

INTRODUCTION: Primacy, Criticism, and the Text

PART ONE: The Theoretical Hyphen

An American View of the Structuralist-Poststructuralist Controversy
E. F. Kaelin

Address as Focus: Plato, Nietzsche, and Postmodernism
William J. Kennedy

Theoretical Dreamwish and Textual Actuality: The Polyglot Renga by Paz, Roubaud, Sanguineti, and Tomlinson
Gerald Gillespie

PART TWO: Lo, the Text Tells Its Tale

The Misshapen Beast: The Furioso's Serpentine Narrative
Dennis Looney

Begging an Answer: Kleist's The Beggarwoman of Locarno
Lilian R. Furst

Narrative, Genre, and Mode: Pirandello's "La Patente"
Mary Ann Frese Witt

PART THREE: Appearing Texts

Sarte's La Nausee and the Aesthetics of Pure Perception
W. Wolfgang Holdheim

Painting the Seamarks of Modernity: Toward a Poesis of Integration in Saint-John Perse
Mark W. Andrews

PART FOUR: Reflected Texts Beyond Words

The Endurance of Value: El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote in Defense of the Canon
Brenda Deen Schildgen

Texts Within Texts: The Power of Letters in Edith Wharton's Fiction
Elsa Nettels

The Reflected Text: Kafka's Modern Inferno
Peter Salm

PART FIVE: A Cultural-Historical Hyphen

Petrarchan Grammatology and the Birth of Modern Texts
Aldo Scaglione

Paradiso XXIII: To Read the Human Condition
Maristella De Panizza Lorch

Vision and Visibilia
Allen Mandelbaum

Naming the Rose: Petrarch's Figure In and For the Text and Texts
Raymond Adolph Prier


In their readings of texts, the authors address the topics of theory, narrative, aesthetics, the idea of the text, and of specific moments in cultural history. The chapters cover a range of authors: Plato, Ovid, Dante, Petrarch, Chariteo, Ariosto, Tasso, Cervantes, Kleist, Gode, Edith Wharton, Pirandello, Kafka, Sartre, Saint-John Perse, Paz, Roubaud, Sanguineti, and Tomlinson. They also deal with philosophers: Peirce, Nietzsche, Saussure, Husserl, Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre, Heidegger, Jakobson, Sartre, Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Lyotard, and Deleuze. The book opens up our relationships to the past and the usefulness or otherwise of the metaphors we use in our attempt to understand and participate in it.

Although Countercurrents deals diversely with literary periods, authors, and critics, it speaks within the civilized and civilizing universe of our language and the texts we create. Running beneath the antihumanistic flotilla that skims the surface of texts for theory, the authors plumb for treasures from the ocean's floor.

Raymond Adolph Prier is an independent scholar whose previous works include Archaic Logic: Symbol and Structure in Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Empedocles; and Thauma Idesthai: The Phenomonology of Sight and Appearance in Archaic Greek.