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The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Routledge Classics) Hardcover – June 13, 2002

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Every now and then a book appears which is literally ahead of its time ... The Political Unconscious is such a book ... it sets new standards of what a classic work is.' - Slavoj Zizek

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Classics
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Revised ed. edition (June 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415287502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415287500
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,430,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read "The Political Unconscious" in college and was quite dazzled with it at the time. The book is quite difficult, and I approached it after reading another work of Marxist criticism, Terry Eagleton's "Literary Theory: An Introduction," which contains a footnoted reference to Jameson. The key thing about Jameson's book is that he forgoes a formalistic close-reading approach to works of narrative literature in favor of a historicist, totalizing vision. After I read the book, I recommended it to a graduate student in philosophy, who found it a brilliant synthesis, but no more. It is true that Jameson isn't a philosophical pathbreaker, but the fact that he has read and can convincingly use the work of German Hegelian Marxists like Theodor Adorno and especially George Lukacs is quite amazing. And his readings of authors like Gissing, Hofmannsthal, and Conrad are nothing if not supple. If "Marxist criticism" seems to you the recipe for disaster (or ignorance), this entrancing book is definitely the corrective for you!
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Format: Paperback
This is the touchstone book for Jameson's work, though much less popular than his book on Postmodernism. It requires a great deal of background and is not an easy read: but it was (is) a basic book in contemporary critical theory. It was written at a particular moment in the history of Marxist thought, and is saturated in what non-Marxists would consider to be a tiresome effort to extricate useful Marxist ideas from the grim history of Marxism in practice, mostly through the "breakthrough" work of the French Marxist, Althusser -- essentially proposing the freeing of Marxist cultural criticism from the dreary mechanical base-superstructure model, in favour of what Jamieson calls a 'structural' model, something of an ecological systems view (everything influences everything else in semi-autonomy). There is also a long discussion of the benefits and pitfalls of "totalization" -- that is, a theory that explains everything (its roots being in Hegel) and thereby eventually neutralizes dissension, differences, and conflicts. The (rough) assumption is that it was this drive towards totalization in (at least) Stalinist forms of Marxism that helped Communism end up as totalitarian in practice. Or so critical Leftist Marxists claimed in attempting to reclaim Marx from Marxism. Jameson opts in this same vein for a form of self-destroying totalization, a variant of what is usually called "negative dialectic" -- which is a lot like negative theology in its constant wariness of the traps of language and claims to ultimate meaning, but nevertheless strives for forms of comprehensive comprehension -- without everything turning into a solid singularity at the end of the day.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Political Unconscious is a prodigious crical enterprise that unveils in a stimulating protean verve, the relationship between the political structure and the narrative enterprises of a variety of literary movements and/or individual authors. A model work of Marxist Criticism that sharpens our sensitivity and awareness in relation to the confines and intransigence of political schemas, for these affect and filter, construct and deflect the interpretation of artistic ouvres, while also creating the space for them within the tension provided. A treasure as is all of Jameson's criticism, his reading of Conrad's fiction is exceptional and vibrant in tone and exposition, to the extent that one rushes to re-read "Lord Jim" and plunge into a dialogue with Jameson while at it. Fredric Jameson is an artist and a cultural critic whose philosophy and literary analysis conveyed an American brand of Marxism that is second to none. The Political Unconscious is a fable, an historical approach that disseminates, and disrupts the fixed political schemas in a valient and elegant attempt at rousing readers from the slumber in which we are , however unconsciously, shrouded. A very important work indeed; It is with refreshing vigour that he reminds us of the importance of reading and writing. Yet he does so without the ascendancy of negative theology, such as is done by Blanchot and Agamben, although they also deserve our respect and gratitude. It is just that Jameson's texts are not mired in a restless solitude that asserts itself as feigned indifference.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
The Political Unconscious is a prodigious crical enterprise that unveils in a stimulating protean verve, the relationship between the political structure and the narrative enterprises of a variety of literary movements and/or individual authors. A model work of Marxist Criticism that sharpens our sensitivity and awareness in relation to the confines and intransigence of political schemas, for these affect and filter, construct and deflect the interpretation of artistic ouvres, while also creating the space for them within the tension provided. A treasure as is all of Jameson's criticism, his reading of Conrad's fiction is exceptional and vibrant in tone and exposition, to the extent that one rushes to re-read "Lord Jim" and plunge into a dialogue with Jameson while at it. Fredric Jameson is an artist and a cultural critic whose philosophy is Deluzian and whose literary analysis is Derridian. The Political Unconscious is a fable, an historical approach that disseminates, and disrupts the fixed political schemas in a valient and elegant attempt at rousing readers from the slumber in which we are , however unconsciously, shrouded. A very important work indeed; It is with refreshing vigour that he reminds us of the importance of reading and writing. Yet he does so without the ascendancy of negative theology, such as is done by Blanchot and Agamben, although they also deserve our respect and gratitude. It is just that Jameson's texts are not mired in a restless solitude that asserts itself as feigned indifference. As was the case with Adorno and Allon White, a passionate surge is provoked, and the tragedy of being human(and all the more one of those doomed creatures known as scholars)is evoked in a confessed ambiguity that laments and hates the fact that it loves and believes in this, our life.
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