Fiction Agonistes: In Defense of Literature
In this path-breaking new work, Gregory Jusdanis asks why literature matters. Why are we afraid to admit our pleasures of reading, to defend the arts to the school board, to discuss the importance of literature in life? Drawing on a wealth of references from Aristophanes to Eudora Welty, from Fernando Pessoa to Orhan Pamuk, from Cavafy to hypertext stories, Jusdanis reminds us that the arts have always been under attack. Instead of despair, however, he offers a pragmatic defense of literature, arguing that it performs a social function in dramatizing the break between illusion and reality, life and the life-like, permanence and metamorphosis. The ability to distinguish between the actual and the imaginary is essential to human beings. Our capacity to imagine something new, to project ourselves into the mind of another person, and to fight for a new world is based on this distinction. Literature allows us to imagine alternate possibilities of human relationships and political institutions, even in the watery world of the Internet. At once daring and lucid, Fiction Agonistes considers the place of art today with passion and optimism.
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Acharnians Aeschylus aesthetic autonomy aesthetic experience aestheticism argued Aristophanes art’s artists asks Athenian Athens audience beauty Brecht Bürger capacity Cavafy century characters Chicago chorus claim concept conflict critics critique culture David defamiliarization Defense of Poetry differentiation discourse dramatic Edited epic theater Essays Euripides fiction film function Greek Hillis Miller human hypertext illusion imagine intellectuals invention Joyce’s judgment Kant Kant’s Khazars language literary literature literature’s London lyric Mallarmé Minnesota Press mode Modern modernist Moskóv-Selím narrative narrator nature novel object Orhan Pamuk Oxford University Press parabasis parabatic Pavić Persians Peter Bürger philosophical play PMLA poem poet poetic poetry political postmodern Princeton University Princeton University Press protagonist readers reading reality representation revolution Romanticism says Schiller sense social society spectators stage structure T. S. Eliot tension theater theory traditional Translated truth University of Minnesota words writing York