The Blossom Which We Are

The Novel and the Transience of Cultural Worlds

By Nir Evron

Subjects: Comparative Literature, Literary Criticism, Literary Theory, Literature, American Literature
Series: SUNY series, Literature . . . in Theory
Paperback : 9781438480688, 232 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438480671, 232 pages, November 2020

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Table of contents



1. Culturalism, Vulnerability, and Transience

2. An Ironist's Elegy: Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence

3. "Und siehe da: Es gab also fremde Länder!": Joseph Roth's Parochializing of Empire

4. The Culturalization of Zionism: Yaakov Shabtai's Past Continuous

5. Culturalism and Historicism in Contemporary Intellectual Life

Works Cited

Charts the vicissitudes of a distinctly modern and peculiarly human vulnerability—our intimate dependence on the fragile, time-bound cultural framework that we inhabit—in the history of the realist novel.


The Blossom Which We Are traces the emergence of a distinctly modern form of human vulnerability—our intimate dependence on the fragile and time-bound cultural frameworks that we inhabit—as it manifests in the realm of the novel. Nir Evron juxtaposes seminal works from diverse national literatures to demonstrate that the trope of cultural extinction offers key insights into the emotional and ideological work performed by the realist novel. With an analysis that ranges from the works of Maria Edgeworth and Walter Scott, Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence and Joseph Roth's Radetzky March and Yaakov Shabtai's Past Continuous, and finally to the current state of the humanities, this book seeks to recover literary criticism's humanistic mission, bringing the best that has been thought and said to bear on urgent contemporary concerns.

Nir Evron is Assistant Professor of English and American Studies at Tel Aviv University, Israel.


"The Blossom Which We Are retains the conceptual ambitions of a comparative study while still grounding its arguments within the historical particularity of a modernity cataloging cultural passing or transformation as first revolution but then extinction—a fact that invites applying The Blossom Which We Are to a global historicist sense of how realist fiction and cultural impermanence present themselves beyond the West." — Studies in English Literature

"…[a] fascinating book … Are there other lines open to the humanities than either culturalist elegiacs or delusive universalism, the two paths suggested at the end of Evron's volume? What if the humanities were ready to move in a paradigmatically new direction? Whether choosing to stick with culturalism or consider other conceptual frameworks, readers will be significantly better positioned to act on the comparativist openings to the world that follow from Evron's historical review of culturalist discourse and his eye-opening linkage of it to writers as diverse as Wharton, Roth, and Shabtai." — Edith Wharton Review

"The book is convincingly grounded in cultural and literary theory. In the ambitious final chapter Evron uses literary criticism to consider the current threat of extinction to the culture of academic humanities and, metaphorically, to Western culture writ large." — CHOICE

"This book is gorgeously written. What might appear on its face as the yoking together of three culturally remote and only tangentially related texts turns out to function as a genealogy of and meditation upon the emergence of the experience of the culturally tangential." — Irene Tucker, author of The Moment of Racial Sight: A History