Twilight of the Literary: Figures of Thought in the Age of Print

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2009 - Design - 304 pages
In Western thought, the modern period signals a break with stagnant social formations, the advent of a new rationalism, and the emergence of a truly secular order, all in the context of an overarching globalization. In The Twilight of the Literary, Terry Cochran links these developments with the rise of the book as the dominant medium for recording, preserving, and disseminating thought. Consequently, his book explores the role that language plays in elaborating modern self-understanding. It delves into what Cochran calls the figures of thought that have been an essential component of modern consciousness in the age of print technology--and questions the relevance of this print-bound thinking in a world where print no longer dominates. Cochran begins by examining major efforts of the eighteenth century that proved decisive for modern conceptions of history, knowledge, and print. After tracing late medieval formulations of vernacular language that proved crucial to print, he analyzes the figures of thought in print culture as they proceed from the idea of the collective spirit (the people), an elaboration of modern history. Cochran reconsiders basic texts that, in his analysis, reveal the underpinnings of modernity's formation--from Dante and Machiavelli to Antonio Gramsci and Walter Benjamin. Moving from premodern models for collective language to competing theories of history, his work offers unprecedented insight into the means by which modern consciousness has come to know itself.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Introduction
1
FOUNDING MATTERS
31
Hegemony of the Vernacular
33
Figural Economy of the Worldview
56
Illusions of Unfolding Time
77
FROM EUROPE TO THE GLOBE
101
The Epic Figure of Literary History
103
Cosmopolitical Grounding of Literature
135
UNPLANNED OBSOLESCENCE
165
The Use and Abuse of the Human
167
Collective Culture of Print
189
Reflections on the Force of the Figure
227
Notes
259
Index
283
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Terry Cochran is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Montreal.

Bibliographic information