Very Little-- Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature

Very Little-- Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature

Very Little-- Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature

Very Little-- Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature

Synopsis

Very Little... Almost Nothing puts the question of the meaning of life back at the centre of intellectual debate. Its central concern is how we can find a meaning to human finitude without recourse to anything that transcends that finitude. A profound but secular meditation on the theme of death, Critchley traces the idea of nihilism through Blanchot, Levinas, Jena Romanticism and Cavell, culminating in a reading of Beckett, in many ways the hero of the book.
In this second edition, Simon Critchley has added a revealing and extended new preface, and a new chapter on Wallace Stevens which reflects on the idea of poetry as philosophy.

Excerpt

If one spends much of one’s time writing, or – as is sadly more often the case – thinking about writing, then it is often difficult to know whether work follows life or whether it is the other way round. in memory, life and work tend to merge deceptively. That said, Very Little … Almost Nothing belongs to a troubled period in my life. I won’t go into too much detail, but events circled around my father’s illness with lung cancer which resulted in his death a couple of days after Christmas 1994. I remember taking breaks from nursing him by sitting downstairs and reading Beckett’s Malone Dies – an act that didn’t seem to make much sense at the time. Nietzsche somewhere speaks of an author’s life as not just the womb or soil, but more often the dung or manure out of which the work sprouts. Let’s just say that I had heaps of manure lying around in the years Very Little … Almost Nothing was being written. But, as every gardener knows, manure is excellent fertilizing material and the book bears some blooms that I still find attractive, even if I find my prose prolix and the whole thing horribly overwritten. in this Preface to the Second Edition, I’d like to provide a little context for Very Little … Almost Nothing, and spell out some of its ideas that I still value and, more importantly perhaps, still use.

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