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Brief introduction

For more than fifty years, Geoffrey Hartman has been a pivotal figure in the humanities. In his first book, in 1954, he helped establish the study of Romanticism as key to the problems of...

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This edition of book was issued in Hardcover. The volume of the book is 195 pages (approximate value, can be different depending on the edition).

Original Title
A Scholar's Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe
ISBN13
9780823228324
Edition Format
Hardcover
Book Language
English
Number of Pages
195 pages
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A Scholar's Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe

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Book Description

For more than fifty years, Geoffrey Hartman has been a pivotal figure in the humanities. In his first book, in 1954, he helped establish the study of Romanticism as key to the problems of modernity. Later, his writings were crucial to the explosive developments in literary theory in the late seventies, and he was a pioneer in Jewish studies, trauma studies, and studies of For more than fifty years, Geoffrey Hartman has been a pivotal figure in the humanities.

In his first book, in 1954, he helped establish the study of Romanticism as key to the problems of modernity. Later, his writings were crucial to the explosive developments in literary theory in the late seventies, and he was a pioneer in Jewish studies, trauma studies, and studies of the Holocaust. At Yale, he was a founder of its Judaic Studies program, as well as of the first major video archive for Holocaust testimonies.

Generations of students have benefited from Hartman's generosity, his penetrating and incisive questioning, the wizardry of his close reading, and his sense that the work of a literary scholar, no less than that of an artist, is a creative act. All these qualities shine forth in this intellectual memoir, which will stand as his autobiography. Hartman describes his early education, uncanny sense of vocation, and development as a literary scholar and cultural critic.

He looks back at how his career was influenced by his experience, at the age of nine, of being a refugee from Nazi Germany in the Kindertransport. He spent the next six years at school in England, where he developed his love of English literature and the English countryside, before leaving to join his mother in America. Hartman treats us to a "biobibliography" of his engagements with the major trends in literary criticism.

He covers the exciting period at Yale handled so controversially by the media and gives us vivid portraits, in particular, of Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, and Jacques Derrida. All this is set in the context of his gradual self-awareness of what scholarship implies and how his personal displacements strengthened his calling to mediate between European and American literary cultures. Anyone looking for a rich, intelligible account of the last half-century of combative literary studies will want to read Geoffrey Hartman's unapologetic scholar's tale.

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About Author

From NYT obituary: Geoffrey H. Hartman, a literary critic whose work took in the Romantic poets, Judaic sacred texts, Holocaust studies, deconstruction and the workings of memory — and took on the very function of criticism itself — died on March 14 at his home in Hamden, Conn. He was 86. His death was announced by Yale University, where he was the Sterling professor emeritus of English and compara From NYT obituary: Geoffrey H.

Hartman, a literary critic whose work took in the Romantic poets, Judaic sacred texts, Holocaust studies, deconstruction and the workings of memory — and took on the very function of criticism itself — died on March 14 at his home in Hamden, Conn. He was 86. His death was announced by Yale University, where he was the Sterling professor emeritus of English and comparative literature. Considered one of the world's foremost scholars of literature, Professor Hartman was associated with the "Yale School", a cohort of literary theorists that included Harold Bloom, J.

Hillis Miller and Paul de Man. Their work was rooted in deconstruction, the approach to analyzing the multilayered relationship between a text and its meaning that was advanced by the 20th-century French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Professor Hartman was renowned for his vast Continental erudition. His scholarly attention ranged over Wordsworth, to whom he was long devoted; the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins; Judaica (he helped found the Judaic studies program at Yale); Alfred Hitchcock; Freud; detective stories; and the nature of trauma, the memory of trauma and testimony about trauma — interests borne of his own wartime experience — as well as the ways in which traumatic recollections can be filtered through the creative imagination.

Among his best-known books are "Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814" (1964); "Criticism in the Wilderness: The Study of Literature Today" (1980), considered a landmark in the field; "The Longest Shadow: In the Aftermath of the Holocaust" (1996); and a memoir, "A Scholar's Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe" (2007). He was the first director of what is now the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale. Begun in 1979, the archive, which is open to the public, comprises more than 4,000 interviews with Holocaust survivors, witnesses and liberators from around the world.

As a result of his association with the Yale School, Professor Hartman was often called a deconstructionist, but his critical stance eluded tidy classification. Deconstruction maintains that any given text is, below its surface, a roiling system of conflicting semantic signs. As such, the text has no one empirical reading; it is, rather, a network of competing meanings — a quicksilver state of affairs that a critical analysis of that text must take into account.

Early on, Professor Hartman championed this approach. But over time he went deconstruction one better, arguing that a literary text is so pregnant with possible readings that to make an evaluative judgment about it — or even, perhaps, to extract an inventory of its meanings — is futile. By longstanding tradition, as Professor Hartman reminded his readers, literary criticism was seen as a handmaiden of literature — an adjunct whose sole raison d'être was literature itself.

In "Criticism in the Wilderness", he argued that criticism should not only stand on an equal footing with literature but also be literature. (Classifying criticism as literature inevitably triggers a hall-of-mirrors effect, the kind of Talmudic paradox that was to Professor Hartman a source of unalloyed delight: If criticism becomes literature, it is thus amenable to critical analysis. How, then, does one classify the criticism that results?) In elevating criticism to the status of literature, Professor Hartman did not mean merely that it should be well written.

What he also meant was that criticism should function for criticism's sake alone. "The spectacle of the critic's mind disoriented, bewildered, caught in some ‘wild surmise' about the text and struggling to adjust — is not that one of the interests critical writing has for us?" he wrote in "Criticism in the Wilderness". He continued: "In more casual acts of reading this bewilderment can be muted, for there is always the hint of a resolution further on, or an enticement to enter for its own

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