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The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  28 Ratings  ·  4 Reviews
In this book, the first edition of which was published in 1971 by Oxford University Press, Ihab Hassan takes Orphic dismemberment and regeneration as his metaphor for a radical crisis in art and language, culture and consciousness, which prefigures postmodern literature. The modern Orpheus, he writes, “sings on a lyre without strings.” Thus, his sensitive critique traces a ...more
Hardcover, 315 pages
Published August 1st 1982 by University of Wisconsin Press
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Dan
Jun 04, 2010 Dan rated it liked it
In this study, Hassan argues that one of the traditions out of which postmodern literature emerges can be characterized, metaphorically, as a literature of “silence.” Perhaps this tradition could be better characterized as one of doubt, for radical doubt or scepticism is reflected in one way or another in the works of many of the writers Hassan discusses. For instance, Hassan comments on the Marquis de Sade, whose works reflect a radical scepticism toward reason, authority, and conventional mora ...more
Kent
Dec 31, 2008 Kent rated it really liked it
Shelves: comps
Apparently Hassan is one of the earlier critics to advocate the term "postmodern" for that time that comes after modernism. This book is especially concerned with a lineage of writers whose focus is expressing the silence that is most coincident with nature. Not that this is the especial concern of only these writers. What Hassan argues, though, is that these writers try to use language, and the reader's experience while reading, as method to make that language more real. Examples are Beckett's ...more
Ian Drew Forsyth
quotes:
Postmodern literature moves, in nihilist play or mystic transcendence, toward the vanishing point.
sade: there is not a living man who does not wish to play the despot when he is stiff
Language as deceit reminds us of the anti-languages of propaganda in our own century. We have now seen the extremes: for Herr Goebbels, all official speech is truth; for William Burroughs, all speech is lying.
Sade is aware that the torturer's real crime will be not simply to inflict pain but to seduce and cor
...more
Andrew
There's a lot of really interesting literary commentary in here, on Sade, Hemingway, Genet, Beckett, Camus, Sarraute, etc etc. But as a whole, it falls short. While the idea of a discordant "postmodernism" running a current through the history of modernism is interesting (and valuable), Hassan seems to have a relatively unclear idea of what the postmodern actually is. Granted, this is a very thorny issue, but it still would be nice to get an overarching thesis.
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He was born in Cairo, Egypt, and emigrated to the United States in 1946. Currently he is Emeritus Vilas Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. His writings include Radical Innocence: Studies in the Contemporary American Novel (1961), The Literature of Silence: Henry Miller and Samuel Beckett (1967), The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature (1971, 1982), Pa ...more
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