J.M. Coetzee endorses Thinking in Literature by Anthony Ulhmann

By | December 20, 2010


This concerns a book that is not out until next July, but since it’s not every day that one receives an endorsement from a Nobel Prize winner, I thought I’d share. J.M. Coetzee has read an advance copy of Anthony Uhlmann’s forthcoming book Thinking in Literature: Joyce, Woolf, Nabokov and has written the following words of support:

'In this ambitious contribution to literary theory, Anthony Uhlmann shows how a work of literature can be said to think, and thus in what sense literature helps us to understand the world. On the way he provides exemplary analyses of Virginia Woolf and Vladimir Nabokov at work, as well as useful unfoldings of difficult material from Spinoza and Leibniz.'

J. M. Coetzee

Here are the précis and table of contents of the book:

Thinking in Literature sets out to examine how the Modernist novel might be understood to be a machine for thinking, and further how it might offer means of coming to terms with what it means to think.  It begins with a theoretical analysis of the concept of thinking in literature using Gilles Deleuze as a point of departure and the two philosophers who were most important to Deleuze’s understanding of thinking in literature: Spinoza and Leibniz. Three elements are identified as crucial to aesthetic expression: relation; sensation; and composition. Yet in order to build a fuller understanding of these processes it is necessary to move from theory to specific readings of artistic practice. Uhlmann examines the aesthetic practice of three major Modernist writers: James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and the young Vladimir Nabokov. Each can be understood as working with relation, sensation and composition, yet each emphasize the interrelations between them in differing ways in expressing the potentials for thinking in literature.


Part 1: Literature and Thought
1. Spinoza and Relation 
2. Leibniz’s ‘perception’: the Incompossible, the Viewpoint, and the Composition of Sensation
3. Composition as the Externalised Expression of Sensation

Part 2: Thought in Modernist Fiction
4. James Joyce: the art of Relation
5. Virginia Woolf: the art of Sensation
6. Vladimir Nabokov: the art of Composition


To read more about this book please visit our website.

Haaris Naqvi, Acquisitions Editor

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