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A Radical Anatomy of Phantoms


From Shakespeare to Beckett, the contradictory figure of the fool who possesses unexpected wisdom has been a popular and effective literary trope and rhetorical figure for centuries. Philosophy needs idiots too, argues Keston Sutherland in Stupefaction. This is a book about how idiots are created, how they are used, and the types of truth that depend on them.

Sutherland examines how speculative and satirical descriptions of stupidity function in art and in argument. His examples include Alexander Pope’s dunce, Adorno’s philistine, Wordsworth’s mechanical adopter of poetic diction, and phenomenologist Michel Henry’s drunkard who rides an escalator to nothingness. Sutherland also provides an important new account of the figure of the bourgeois in Marx and a powerfully original interpretation of commodity fetishism as a satire against bourgeois objectivity. This unusual analysis of the trope of the idiot will appeal to scholars of literature and philosophy alike.

264 pages | 4 1/4 x 7 | © 2011

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Philosophy: General Philosophy

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Table of Contents


Marx in Jargon
Wrong Poetry
What is called ’Bathos’?
Happiness in Writing


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