AgitationsEssays on Life and Literature

AgitationsEssays on Life and Literature

Arthur Krystal

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780300092165

Publisher: Yale University Press

Abstract

From small questions of taste to large questions concerning the nature of existence, intellectual debate takes up much of our time. This book examines what most commentators ignore: the role of temperament and taste in the forming of aesthetic and ideological opinions. In provocative chapters about reading and writing, about the relation between life and literature, about knowledge and certainty, about God and death, and about a gradual disaffection with the literary scene, the book demonstrates that opposing points of view are based more on innate predilections than on disinterested thought or analysis. Not beholden to any fashionable theory or political agenda, the book interrogates the usual suspects in the cultural wars from an independent, though not impartial, vantage point. Clearly personal and unabashedly belletrist, the chapters ask important questions. What makes culture one thing and not another? What inspires aesthetic values? What drives us to make comparisons? And how does a bias for one kind of evidence as opposed to another contribute to the form and content of intellectual argument?