In Quest of Nothing: Selected Essays, 1998-2008 (AMS Studies in Modern Literature No. 29)
By: Ihab Hassan (author), Klaus Stierstorfer (editor)Hardback
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In these new essays Ihab Hassan, one of the most influential critics of literature and contemporary culture in the world, probes urgent themes of our clime: truth, trust, the imminence of spirit in everyday life. The path of his explorations runs through many worldly concerns: autobiography, travel, the prevalence of media, the plight of the American Dream, the anguished cry of identity in diasporic times. But the path also leads beyond these concerns, toward visions of the verge. Hassan writes in his introduction: 'These are late essays, when age, baffled by itself and the years, aspires to a second innocence - seeks nothing though still driven by importunate youth'. "In Quest of Nothing" thus comes as a mature statement of self-dispossession, honoring commitment above partisanship, invoking disprized 'negative capability', a kenotic ideal. This statement is rendered in a style of great clarity and elegance, skirting the edges of poetry. Ihab Hassan is a distinguished American literary critic and writer whose career spans the twentieth century from the New Criticism to Postmodernism and beyond.
Born in Cairo, he emigrated to the United States; educated as an electrical engineer, he emigrated to literature and cultural studies. Hassan emerged from these experiences with degrees (B.S., M.S., M.A., Ph.D.) in science and literature as well as honorary doctorates (honoris causa) from the University of Uppsala in Sweden and Giessen in Germany. Hassan has been praised for a style that is at once lucid and poetic, impermeable to the jargon of the moment. His work ranges from the pioneering study of postwar American fiction "Radical Innocence" to critiques of the mavericks and giants of contemporary writing in "The Dismemberment of Orpheus"; from explorations of travel and quest in "Selves at Risk" to perceptions of his own life's journey in "Out of Egypt" and "Between the Eagle and the Sun: Traces of Japan". His earlier essay collection "The Postmodern Turn" has become a classic reference on the subject.
Editor's Preface; Author's Introduction; Section I: Autobiography and Travel; 1. In No Strange Land: Sections of a Memoir; 2. The Food of the Gods; 3. Australian Journeys; 4. Maps and Stories; Section II: Geopolitics and Postcolonial Studies; 5. Queries for Postcolonial Studies; 6. The Eagle, the Olive Branch, and the Dream: Changing Perceptions of America in the World; 7. A Terrible Simplicity Is Born: Fifteen Rocks in the Garden of Violence; 8. Changelings in Janglish: Or How Australian Is It?; Section III: Postmodernism and Beyond; 9. Beyond Postmodernism: Towards an Aesthetic of Trust; 10. Realism Redux: A Postmodern Perspective; 11. Postmodernism? A Self-Interview; Section IV: Spirit, Truth, Trust, and the Void; 12. The Expense of Spirit in Postmodern Times: Between Nihilism and Belief; 13. The Authority of the Void; 14. The Eureka File: The Roles of Belief, Chance, and the Void in Innovation; 15. The Way We Have Become: A Surfeit of Seeming Envoy: Empty Attachment, a Story; Index.
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