Criticism in the Wilderness

The Study of Literature Today, Second Edition

Geoffrey Hartman; Foreword by Hayden White

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Originally published in 1980, this now classic work of literary theory explores the wilderness of positions that grew out of the collision between Anglo-American practical criticism and Continental philosophic criticism. This second edition includes a new preface by the author as well as a foreword by Hayden White.
“A key text for understanding ‘the fate of reading’ in the Anglophone world over the last fifty years.”—Hayden White, from the Foreword
Criticism in the Wilderness may be the best, most brilliant, most broadly useful book yet written by an American about the sudden swerve from the safety of established decorum toward bravely theoretical, mainly European forms of literary criticism.”—Terrence Des Pres, Nation
“A polemical survey that reaffirms the value of the Continental tradition of philosophical literary criticism.”—Notable Books of the Year, New York Times Book Review

Geoffrey Hartman is Sterling Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Yale University. The Geoffrey Hartman Reader, co-edited by Hartman and Daniel T. O'Hara, is the recipient of the 2006 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin.

"Hartman is one of the most authoritative and, after Trilling's death, perhaps the most balanced of America's literary thinkers. As the title indicates, these essays stress the interdependence of the concepts of literature and criticism today. . . . A noteworthy book."—Library Journal (on the earlier edition)

"Criticism in the Wilderness is one of the richest and ripest books around. It is rich in the lore of its subject matter and ripe in the subtlety and wisdom of its meditation. Touching on a wide variety of critical works—touching, in fact, on every important critic in German, French, and English of the last hundred and fifty years—Hartman restlessly and incessantly ponders the place of literary criticism in modern intellectual life."—Richard A. Rand, Worldview
(on the earlier edition)

"Anyone who thinks seriously about what the institutional humanities are trying to accomplish in America should read Hartman's book to find out why we are in such an unhappy plight. Criticism in the Wilderness is a magnificent conclusion to the philosophic speculations about the nature and use of criticism which Hartman initiated in Beyond Formalism (1970) and extended in The Fate of Reading (1975)."—Kenneth Johnston, College English
(on the earlier edition)

"A polemical survey that reaffirms the value of the Continental tradition of philosophical literary criticism and proposes a more flexible and creative kind of literary discourse that that afforded by the tradtitions of Arnold, Eliot, and the New Critics."—New York Times Book Review (Notable Books of the Year)
(on the earlier edition)

"Criticism in the Wilderness may be the best, most brilliant, most broadly useful book yet written by an American about the sudden swerve from the safety of established decorum toward bravely theoretical, mainly European forms of literary criticism."—Terrence Des Pres, The Nation (on the earlier edition)

"A passionate essay on American culture. . . . [Hartman] puts deadly questions to our present cultural presuppositions and educational arrangements."—Helen Vendler, The New Yorker (on the earlier edition)

"Extraordinary."—Paul C. Ray, The Western Humanities Review (on the earlier edition)

"Geoffrey Hartman is widely recognized as a superb reader of poetry. . . . In recent years, however, he has had to bear a lot of hostile heat, as he stepped up his claims for the place of history in literary interpretation and, under the inspiration of Derrida, given vent to his extraordinary talents as a prose stylist in his own critical writings. Now, in Criticism in the Wilderness, Hartman strikes back. He does so with wit, good humor, and commendable tact."—Hayden White, Partisan Review (on the earlier edition)

"Hartman's theories of literature are of major import to the critics of comparative black literature. His work is always witty, always provocative, always profound, and eclectic."—Henry-Louis Gates, Jr., Black American Literature Forum (on the earlier edition)
ISBN: 9780300123982
Publication Date: March 1, 2007
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4