The Ghosts of Modernity


Jean-Michel Rabate, the eminent French Joycean, combines psychoanalytical and philosophical concepts in rereading the history of modernity to give a more precise meaning to the term modernism. Rabate focuses throughout on a single theme, the ghostly nature of modernity. In writing a history of the concept of modernity with the awareness that the radically new has often been subject to the effects of the return of the repressed. Rabate analyzes the notion of loss in various fields: in Freudian aesthetics of color, in literary history, and in philosophy. The postmodernist fascination with a lost object allows a reconsideration of the boundaries of such terms as modernism and postmodernism. The conclusion ties together all these motifs, from Joyce to Barthes, and shows their theoretical basis in Marx's criticism of ideology and in Freud's consideration of mourning. From the analysis of "color" as an unthinkable object of discourse to an aesthetics of the unpresentable, Rabate points to the possibility of an "ethics of mourning", which would seem capable of overcoming the dead end of history whose ending condemns it to eternal repetition.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Gainesville, FL
Publication year:
  • 1996


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