The Art of Distances

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3685-4
Publication Date
April 2018
Page Count
320 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9
ISBN
0-8101-3685-6

The Art of Distances

Ethical Thinking in Twentieth-Century European Literature
Corina Stan

In The Art of Distances, Corina Stan identifies an insistent preoccupation with interpersonal distance in a strand of twentieth-century European and Anglophone literature that includes the work of George Orwell, Paul Morand, Elias Canetti, Iris Murdoch, Walter Benjamin, Annie Ernaux, Günter Grass, and Damon Galgut. Specifically, Stan shows that these authors all engage in philosophical meditations, in the realm of literary writing, on the ethical question of how to live with others and how to find an ideal interpersonal distance at historical moments when there are no obviously agreed-upon social norms for ethical behavior.

Bringing these authors into dialogue with philosophers such as Michel de Montaigne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Helmuth Plessner, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Luc Nancy, Emmanuel Levinas, Peter Sloterdijk, Guillaume le Blanc, and Pierre Zaoui, Stan shows how the question of the right interpersonal distance became a fundamental one for the literary authors under consideration and explores what forms and genres they proposed in order to convey the complexity of this question.

Stan demonstrates that these emblematically twentieth-century authors reimagined how people can live together and provided alternatives to established ways of thinking about community. In this way, she suggests, these literary authors are engaged, albeit unknowingly, in fleshing out what Roland Barthes called “a science, or perhaps an art, of distances.”

About the Author

CORINA STANis an assistant professor of English and comparative literature at Duke University.
Reviews

“The Art of Distances is an excellent book that uniquely demonstrates Stan’s amazing talent both as a reader of fictional texts and as a philosophical synthesizer. She delivers compelling arguments and elegant readings of the texts, making her thesis bold and original in its scope.” —Jean-Michel Rabaté, fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and author of The Pathos of Distance

“This book is a veritable tour de force of writers and critics spanning across the entire twentieth century. The chapters are meticulously researched and presented, each containing a wealth of information that presents the authors in a new light. Stan has done an impressive, even extraordinary amount of work in her labors to assemble so many disparate authors, philosophers, and critics.” —Verena Andermatt Conley, author of Spatial Ecologies: Urban Sites, State and World-Space in French Cultural Theory