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July 27 , 2009

Stanley Cavell and the Claim of Literature


Stanley Cavell is widely recognized as one of America’s most important contemporary philosophers. His writings have attracted considerable attention among literary critics and theorists. Stanley Cavell and the Claim of Literature is the first monograph to comprehensively address the importance of literature in Cavell’s philosophy, and, in turn, the potential effect of his philosophy on contemporary literary criticism.

David Rudrum dedicates a chapter to each of the principal writers that occupy Cavell, including Shakespeare, Thoreau, Beckett, Wordsworth, Ibsen, and Poe, and incorporates chapters on tragedy, skepticism, ethics, and politics. Through detailed analysis of these works, Rudrum explores Cavell’s ideas on the nature of reading; the relationships between literary language, ordinary language, and performative language; the status of authors and characters; the link between tragedy and ethics; and the nature of political conversation in a democracy.

Rudrum casts a wide net that Cavell scholars as well as people interested in the philosophy of tragedy, aesthetics, and literary skepticism will find compelling.

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