Are the Humanities Inconsequent?:Interpreting Marx's Riddle of the Dog

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Adapting the discontinuous and multi-tonal critical procedures of works like Carlyle s "Sartor Resartus" and Laura Riding s "Anarchism Is Not Enough," Jerome McGann subjects current literary studies to a patacritical investigation.The investigation centers in the interpretation of a notorious modern riddle: Outside of a dog, a book is a man s best friend. Inside of a dog, it s too dark to read. Working by indirection and from multiple points of view, the book argues that aesthetics is always a science of exceptions, and that any given critical practice is also always an exception from itself. The book works from two assumptions: first, that the riddle of the dog conceals an allegory about book culture and is addressed to the academic custodians of book culture; and second, that any explanation of the riddle is necessarily implicated in the problem posed by the riddle. It therefore remains to be seen it is the reader s part to decide whether the book is a friend to man or perhaps like the riddle of the dog too dark to read. "

Publication Date: 
May 30, 2009