An Exercise in Pathetic Criticism

Kate Briggs

Price £8.99+pp
ISBN 978-1-907468-08-7
Year 2011
Edition 500
Pages Fold out
Binding Perfect bound; one colour cover; text only inside

What remains after the devastating act of reading a book?  What stays with us once a book is re-shelved?  A cognitive surplus – what Georges Bataille would recognize as la part maudite – that is somehow from the book but rarely really of it. The text itself, the fine points of style that distinguish it as a work worth reading and remembering, are lost – translated via forgetting into a poor approximation of a paraphrase. And yet, that loss – what we cannot remember and carry with us – is how Coleridge defined essential poetry: “not the poem which we have read, but that to which we return.”

—Craig Dworkin, Professor of Literature, University of Utah

Rare enough is literary criticism that allows a book to live, opens it up and invites its readers to set their own compass. Kate Briggs’s Exercise in Pathetic Criticism, inspired by her work on Roland Barthes’s last lectures, does just that, and the wealth of possibility contained in Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo unfolds before us in a mosaic of fragments, which, in their very slightness, shimmer with meaning.”

—Anna-Louise Milne, Cultural Historian, University of London Institute in Paris

Kate Briggs is the translator of two volumes of Roland Barthes’s lecture and seminar notes at the Collège de France: The Preparation of the Novel (Columbia University Press, 2010) and How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces, due to be published in 2012. Exercise in Pathetic Criticism is the first in a projected series of experiments in literary criticism.

Book launch for Pathetic Criticism at The London Art Book Fair, Whitechapel Gallery, 23-25 September 2011.

Exercise in Pathetic Criticism

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