Mots D'Ordre

Disorder in Literary Worlds

By Joseph Natoli

Series: SUNY series, The Margins of Literature
Paperback : 9780791411124, 290 pages, October 1992
Hardcover : 9780791411117, 290 pages, October 1992

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Table of contents



Chapter One - 'The Argument': The Play of Disorder

Chapter Two - Wuthering Heights and the 'Play of the Text'

Chapter Three - Science's Interplay with Disorder: Autonomous Systems, Fractal Contours and Dream-Worlds

Chapter Four - The Zigzag Route of Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine

Chapter Five - Triangulated Psyches and Desiring Machines

Chapter Six - Mots d'Ordre Regimes in Kafka and Dickens

Chapter Seven - The World's Worlding: Marginalization, Hegemony, and Disorder

Chapter Eight - Expectations of Difference: Kathy Acker's Regime of the Senseless

Chapter Nine - The World's Worlding: History and Literary Disorder

Chapter Ten - The Fractal Worlds of the Henry IV Plays

Chapter Eleven - Mapping the Inconceivable: Disordering Taxonomies

Chapter Twelve - The Order of Prizing and the Devouring Order: Peter Taylor's A Summons to Memphis and Patrick Süskind's Perfume




Joseph Natoli teaches postmodernism in the Center for Integrated Studies/ Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. He is editor of Tracing Literary Theory, Literary Theory's Future(s), and Psychological Perspectives on Literature: Dissident Freudian and Non-Freudian; author of Twentieth Century Blake Criticism: Northrop Frye to the Present, and co-author of Psychocriticism.


"Here is a text that energetically breaks out of the predictable positions and quarrels of present-day academe. It is exciting, diverse, has enormous intellectual vitality, and moves easily between science, literature, and philosophy. With Turner, with Serres, and a few others, Natoli outlines a comparatism of the future.

"In my opinion Natoli deals with the most important topic I can think of: the relationship between order and disorder in literature, in criticism, in intellectual life, ultimately in our culture. This book is not only interesting, but truly fascinating and exciting. " — Virgil Nemoianu, Catholic University of America

"This book links together an encyclopedic array of contemporary theoretical arguments and discourses by isolating what each of them has to say about the issue of order and disorder. It then applies that particular abstract argument to the analysis of a literary work, and this application demonstrates the utility and importance of the abstract claim and often results in unpredictable and provocative comments about the works. The issue of order and disorder generalizes the more narrow deconstructive concept of undecidability or 'play' and focuses the vague relations between power and resistance described by Foucault.

"There is an original and ingenious intelligence at work behind this book, and I am impressed with the author's careful attention to the passages he reads and the clarity and precision of his writing and analyses. I cannot think of another text that tries to do what this one does, nor even anything that really resembles its painstaking pairing of each theoretical point with an illustration. " — Michael Clark, University of California, Irvine