Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse by Robert F. Berkhofer Jr.

By Robert F. Berkhofer Jr.

What makes a narrative, sturdy? Is there this type of factor as a "true tale" (cf. Lucian)? What a few tale approximately genuine problems--problems that underlie the discursive models of the day? What makes a narrative rather great--not only in scope, yet in depths? Berkhofer's quantity ignores those and akin questions. He prefers to roll again into modern "discourse" or groundless (!) speak, as though there have been not anything extra pressing and important--nay, meaningful--for students (including historians) to debate than the outside of actually empty talk--a speak that, without doubt, is of significant curiosity to many, arguably accurately due to its emptiness--of its superficiality, its mildly subtle utter loss of depths.

It is valid to suspect that the writer hasn't ever studied (read: taken heavily) any reasoned-out ebook written earlier than the trendy delivery of "Ideology," i.e. the fashionable "politicization" of philosophy. No critical suggestion is given to the chance that truth isn't exhausted by means of ancient (material) appearances. What ancient/classical resources might regard as key to any stable history--namely a willing knowing of the permanent/central difficulties of political existence, sporting with it a potential to make superficial concessions to the style or spirit of the times--disappears within the "beyond" welcomed via our writer, a "beyond" full of skill likely looking ahead to existential Nothingness as their unquestioned, tyrannical finish.

The challenge we're all confronted with--in Berkhofer's company--is that of ends. Berkhofer turns out to imagine that the simplest severe stance rests upon a prejudice opposed to all ends: all ends has to be groundless (i.e. there's no finish by means of nature--hence the "Cartesian" feel of simple task that implies needs to be attended to earlier than and independently of ends). Socratic or zEtetic inquiry (openness to truth/reality as a ordinary finish) is overlooked in desire of a significantly extra trendy discussion open to nowhere. the last word "Great tale" past all not-so-great tales is NIHILISM. the fee to be paid for lack of actual greatness (think of Thucydides, for example) is dire.

One reviewer defends Berkhofer's quantity via invoking "the velocity of erudition," which reads as a codeword for "Progress". purple lighting fixtures flash for "Grand Narrative" (or "Great Stories").

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Newman feels "sick, and suddenly helpless ... to lose her by the interference and the dictation of others, by a impudent old woman and a pretentious fop stepping in with their 'authority'! " But the power of the house is too strong for Madame de Cintré and she cannot break away: she has accepted the idea of becoming a nun (always a kind of living death in James). " Soon after, and here the plot becomes somewhat Gothic, Valentin de Bellegarde puts him in possession of an old secret which would effectively discredit, if not socially destroy, the Bellegardes.

For the notion of costume brings into question the status of all cultivated appearances. Is it immoral to devote energy to the adornment of surfaces? Is whatever is contrived to that extent also false? In a letter to William Dean Howells in 1877 James outlined the idea for the novel. I shall probably develop an idea that I have, about a genial, charming youth of a Bohemian father, who comes back from foreign parts into the midst of a mouldering and ascetic old Puritan family of his kindred ... and by his gaiety and sweet Page 25 audacity smooths over their rugosities, heals their dyspepsia and dissipates their troubles....

In his feeling of adoration for Christina, Roderick goes beyond socially recognized good and evil; when she withdraws from him he cannot return to a form of life governed by those categories. He can only collapse into apathy and die. One general point made about Roderick summarizes something important about the American artist. As Rowland sees Roderick, "the great and characteristic point with him was the perfect separateness of his sensibility. " A perfectly separate sensibility is one that cannot truly be socialized: the affirmation of the artist is inseparable from his isolation, perhaps finally from his destructionthese are two propositions that James's novel may fairly be said to bear out.

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