I am grateful for help with this book from many people, especially Julian Wolfreys, Jason Wohlstadter, and Barbara Caldwell, my “Senior Editor” and invaluable assistant at the University of California, Irvine. I thank Simon Critchley for first suggesting that I might write this book for the series he edits, as well as for his careful reading of the manuscript. I am grateful also to the co-editor of the series, Richard Kearney, for a helpful reading of the manuscript. Muna Khogali and Tony Bruce, of Routledge, have been unfailingly generous and courteous. Tony Bruce read the manuscript with care and made useful suggestions.
A preliminary version of some of the ideas in this book, especially those in Chapter 4, was presented as a lecture for the Koehn Endowed Lectureship at the University of California, Irvine, in Febuary 2001. The lecture was called “On the Authority of Literature.” Subsequently, the talk was given as the first annual Lecture on Modern Literature for the Department of English at Baylor University in April, 2001. The lecture was then printed there as a pamphlet for local circulation. I am grateful to my host and sponsor at Baylor, Professor William Davis, for his many kindnesses. Different versions of the talk were given at two conferences, in August 2001, in the People's Republic of China: at a triennial conference of the Chinese Association for Sino-Foreign Literary and