Obsolete Objects in the Literary Imagination: Ruins, Relics, Rarities, Rubbish, Uninhabited Places, and Hidden Treasures

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Yale University Press, Oct 1, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 500 pages
Translated here into English for the first time is a monumental work of literary history and criticism comparable in scope and achievement to Eric Auerbach’s Mimesis. Italian critic Francesco Orlando explores Western literature’s obsession with outmoded and nonfunctional objects (ruins, obsolete machinery, broken things, trash, etc.). Combining the insights of psychoanalysis and literary-political history, Orlando traces this obsession to a turning point in history, at the end of eighteenth-century industrialization, when the functional becomes the dominant value of Western culture.
 Roaming through every genre and much of the history of Western literature, the author identifies distinct categories into which obsolete images can be classified and provides myriad examples. The function of literature, he concludes, is to remind us of what we have lost and what we are losing as we rush toward the future.

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Obsolete objects in the literary imagination: ruins, relics, rarities, rubbish, uninhabited places, and hidden treasures

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Orlando (theory of literature, Univ. of Pisa) is regarded as one of Europe's foremost literary critics. In this work of comparative literature translated into English for the first time, he traces ... Read full review


What This Book Is About
First Confused Examples
Making Decisions in Order to Proceed
A Tree Neither Genealogical Nor Botanical
Twelve Categories Not to Be Too Sharply Distinguished
Some TwentiethCentury Novels
Praising and Disparaging the Functional
Index of Subjects
Index of Names and Texts

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About the author (2008)

Francesco Orlando is professor of theory of literature at the University of Pisa and is widely regarded as one of Europe's foremost literary critics. Gabriel Pihas is assistant professor, European College of Liberal Arts, Berlin. Daniel Seidel is a freelance translator living in Brooklyn, NY. Alessandra Grego is adjunct professor of English literature, John Cabot University of Rome.

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