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Maurice Gee secondary literature: PART 2

March 27, 2011

In My Father's Den - Maurice Gee

Earlier today, I brain-burped about Maurice Gee’s secondary literature being a cultural phenomenon in it’s own right (see Part 1) … then I remembered something Terry Eagleton wrote:

“[p29] Walter Benjamin viewed a work of art as a set of potentials which may or may not be realized in the vicissitudes of its afterlife.  Perhaps Hamlet or Le Pere Goriot secrete some momentous meaning that only some as yet unheralded event or upheaval in our own history will unlock.

…[p30] Works of art… are… virtual phenomena that contain within themselves a number of possible futures, and the task of criticism is to help bring at least some of these futures to birth.  For Benjamin, it is not true that the past is finished while the present is open ended.  On the contrary, the past is open ended precisely because the present is as well.

…[p31] Benjamin observes, it is not dreams of liberated grandchildren that stir men and women to revolt, but memories of enslaved ancestors. …Criticism thus takes part in the ceaseless production of the work itself, so that any particular work becomes what it is through its ‘criticizability.’  It is criticism that turns the text retrospectively into art, both completing it in the sense of realizing some potential or virtuality within it, and undermining it in that very act by revealing its incompleteness. …So it is that criticism belongs to a much broader and deeper project of remembrance….

[p32] One can contrast Benjamin’s view of history with the notion of a paradigm shift.  The key to this latter idea is the concept of boredom.  From time to time, we wake up to the realization that a set of questions that once seemed to be pressing is no longer so.  Instead, the very act of posing them seems increasingly tedious and irrelevant.”

Terry Eagleton et al (2008) “Devalued Currency; Elegiac Symposium on Paradigm Shifts: Part 1” Common Knowledge 14:1 pp29-33

So I guess what I’m wondering is:

What questions are now relevant to Maurice Gee’s work? and

What do the answers given to previous questions reveal of the concerns that  his work was originally received with? (especially by ‘academic’ institutions)

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