Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart

Hot Property

The Stakes and Claims of Literary Originality

But is it original? The question, on which so much of writing stakes its claim to greatness, may be more interesting than the answer. In this provocative book, Francoise Meltzer takes a subtle and incisive look at the anxiety of origins at the heart of the literary enterprise. Using four case studies, Meltzer reveals the shaky status of originality as a founding principle of the critical establishment.

Freud, inventor of "dream work," turns a blind eye upon the dreams that were the starting point of his predecessor Descartes’s famous methode, the one man’s obsession with originality mirroring the other’s fear of plagiarism. The Holocaust poet Paul Celan, whose sense of identity and place resided in his work, is devastated by a charge of plagiarism. Colette’s husband Willy outdoes himself, and his "lazy" wife as well, with his enactment of literary seriousness. Walter Benjamin’s early interpreters, notably Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno, insidiously undermine the originality of his project . In each of these cases, Meltzer shows how a threat to a writer’s status as creator betrays the larger fraud of the originality myth itself.

Fascinating for its insights into the ways originality is both at risk and at work in Western literary culture, Hot Property will engage all those who have an interest in questions of authorship, textual soveriegnty, and the legitimacy of the critical establishment.

179 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1994

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory, Romance Languages

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1: Freud and Descartes: Dreaming On
2: Paul Celan and the Death of the Book
3: Disappropriating Colette
4: Walter Benjamin and the Right to Acedia
Conclusion
Index

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press