Allegory and Ideology (Paperback)

Allegory and Ideology By Fredric Jameson Cover Image
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Fredric Jameson takes on the allegorical form

Works do not have meanings, they soak up meanings: a work is a machine for libidinal investments (including the political kind). It is a process that sorts incommensurabilities and registers contradictions (which is not the same as solving them!) The inevitable and welcome conflict of interpretations - a discursive, ideological struggle - therefore needs to be supplemented by an account of this simultaneous processing of multiple meanings, rather than an abandonment to liberal pluralisms and tolerant (or intolerant) relativisms.

This is not a book about "method", but it does propose a dialectic capable of holding together in one breath the heterogeneities that reflect our biological individualities, our submersion in collective history and class struggle, and our alienation to a disembodied new world of information and abstraction. Eschewing the arid secularities of philosophy, Walter Benjamin once recommended the alternative of the rich figurality of an older theology; in that spirit we here return to the antiquated Ptolemaic systems of ancient allegory and its multiple levels (a proposal first sketched out in The Political Unconscious); it is tested against the epic complexities of the overtly allegorical works of Dante, Spenser and the Goethe of Faust II, as well as symphonic form in music, and the structure of the novel, postmodern as well as Third-World: about which a notorious essay on National Allegory is here reprinted with a theoretical commentary; and an allegorical history of emotion is meanwhile rehearsed from its contemporary, geopolitical context.

About the Author

Fredric Jameson is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University. The author of numerous books, he has over the last three decades developed a richly nuanced vision of Western culture's relation to political economy. He was a recipient of the 2008 Holberg International Memorial Prize. He is the author of many books, including Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, The Cultural Turn, A Singular Modernity, The Modernist Papers, Archaeologies of the Future, Brecht and Method, Ideologies of Theory, Valences of the Dialectic, The Hegel Variations and Representing Capital.

Praise For…

"Allegory and Ideology charges an antique form with renewed political urgency. At its heart is the melancholy conviction that we can never directly lay hold of history."
—Ted Tregear, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

"Throughout this challenging, boundary-crossing new tome, we are repeatedly given such experiences of the intersection of the most minute details of a text and the grandest movements of history, making for a kind of head-spinning and euphoric journey. Yet this bewildering back-and-forth is in line, after all, with what the experience of the dialectic-with its unexpected connections between previously unrelated social strata-is supposed to feel like in the first place. In that, Jameson, as a dialectician, has once again achieved his aim."
—Thomas J. Millay, Critical Inquiry

"The world, it seems, keeps trying to catch up to Jameson, whose talent for dialectical unification still shines forth with radioactive power. After you've read him, it's impossible to unsee what he's shown you: his phenomenology of everyday life reveals the hidden architecture of the capitalist mode of produciton with the aesthetic aptitude of a modern novelist."
—James Draney, Full Stop

"Allegory, for Jameson, is less a means of overriding difference than a means of preserving it. To look at history and find a great deal of allegory, as this book does, is to find in history, amidst all the destruction, an impulse to preserve and a large quantity of successful preservation."
—Bruce Robbins, The Baffler

"Allegory and Ideology involves its readers in the process of intellectual discovery. We may learn from the author of Allegory and Ideology the delight in moving ideas around, forcing them to change the company they keep, in order to see what happens. Jameson's distinctive feature seems to be the way in which his periods rework and transform all objects of analysis by placing them in an ever-shifting syntactical architecture. His intense account of Auerbach's Dante can easily be read as a declaration of Jameson's own poetics. Nothing has a meaning, in Allegory and Ideology, if not through a complex relation to everything else."
—Franco Moretti, New Left Review

Product Details
ISBN: 9781788730433
ISBN-10: 1788730437
Publisher: Verso
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Pages: 384
Language: English