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Shelley, de Man, and Historical Time

Shelley, de Man, and Historical Time TOM EYERS Where once deconstruction seemed undeconstructable, history has since had its say. After the brief “moment” of high theory, we have seen the rush- return of a broadly empiricist literary history, one that, we were once told, would disfi gure itself under the weight of its fi gural contradictions, with deconstruction its faceless witness. Those of us now attempting to reinvent theory in the face of its historicist instrumentalization, which is to say its forgetting, risk becoming rather like the confused non-character in repose introduced at the beginning of Shelley’s “The Triumph of Life,” passively in witness of the retrenchment of normative historical periods and faith in prospective historical motion, nodding at the pageant of the return of theory’s repressed. The least we can do, as this dialectic roils on, is to adopt the posture of historicism’s own repressed or unwitnessed, to become Rousseau as he is pictured in Shelley’s poem, “an old root which grew/To strange distortion out of the hill side” (2002, 460). The system of specular relays that de Man so brilliantly traces in his “Shelley Disfi gured” would make of the subsequent image of the poem, that of the defeated Rousseau with “holes it http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png symploke uni_neb

Shelley, de Man, and Historical Time

symploke , Volume 26 (1) – Nov 28, 2018

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 symploke.
ISSN
1534-0627

Abstract

TOM EYERS Where once deconstruction seemed undeconstructable, history has since had its say. After the brief “moment” of high theory, we have seen the rush- return of a broadly empiricist literary history, one that, we were once told, would disfi gure itself under the weight of its fi gural contradictions, with deconstruction its faceless witness. Those of us now attempting to reinvent theory in the face of its historicist instrumentalization, which is to say its forgetting, risk becoming rather like the confused non-character in repose introduced at the beginning of Shelley’s “The Triumph of Life,” passively in witness of the retrenchment of normative historical periods and faith in prospective historical motion, nodding at the pageant of the return of theory’s repressed. The least we can do, as this dialectic roils on, is to adopt the posture of historicism’s own repressed or unwitnessed, to become Rousseau as he is pictured in Shelley’s poem, “an old root which grew/To strange distortion out of the hill side” (2002, 460). The system of specular relays that de Man so brilliantly traces in his “Shelley Disfi gured” would make of the subsequent image of the poem, that of the defeated Rousseau with “holes it

Journal

symplokeuni_neb

Published: Nov 28, 2018

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