The Cudgel and the Caress
Reflections on Cruelty and Tenderness
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Offers philosophical and psychological reflections on cruelty and tenderness.
The Cudgel and the Caress explores the enduring significance of tenderness and cruelty in a range of works across philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literature. Divided into two parts, the book initially focuses on tenderness, with David Farrell Krell delivering original readings of Homer's Iliad, Sophocles's Antigone, and writings by Hölderlin, Hegel, Freud, and Derrida that deal with the importance of tenderness and the tragic consequences of its absence. Part One concludes with an extended reading of Robert Musil's Man Without Qualities, in which Krell analyzes the tender relationship between Ulrich and Agathe. In Part Two, Krell begins by examining Otto Rank's Birth Trauma, which reflects on the tenderness of gestation in the womb and the cruel necessity of birth. He then turns to an examination of cruelty in general, focusing on Derrida's challenge to contemporary psychoanalysis, his opposition between Kant and Nietzsche, and his analysis (and indictment) of the death penalty. Groundbreaking and insightful, the book provides a rare philosophical treatment of subjects vital to the world we live in.
David Farrell Krell is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University and Brauer Distinguished Visiting Professor of German Studies at Brown University.
"This book offers nuanced readings from a range of texts important to the continental philosophical tradition. David Farrell Krell is an established and brilliant voice in the field, and the individual chapters reflect a lifetime of reflection, a history of successive interpretations, and a philosophical depth and humanity that are difficult to find today." — Julia Ireland, cotranslator of Martin Heidegger's Hölderlin's Hymn "Remembrance"