This book substantiates two claims. First, the modern world was not simply produced by "objective" factors, rooted in geographical discoveries and scientific inventions, to be traced to economic, technological or political factors, but is the outcome of social, cultural and spiritual processes. Among such factors, beyond the Protestant ethic (Max Weber), the rise of the absolutist state and its disciplinary network (Michel Foucault), or court society (Norbert Elias), a prime role is played by theatre. The modern reality is deeply theatricalized. Second, a special access for studying this theatricalized world is offered by novels. The best classical novels not simply can be interpreted as describing a world "like" the theatre, but they capture and present a world that has become thoroughly transformed into a global theatre. The theatre effectively transformed the world, and classical novels effectively analyze this "theatricalized" reality – much better than the main instruments supposedly destined to study reality, philosophy and sociology. Thus, instead of using the technique of sociology to analyze novels, the book will treat novels as a "royal road" to analyze a theatricalized reality, in order to find our way back to a genuine and meaningful life.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Novels and the Problem of Reality Part I: The Triple Origins of the Modern Novel 1. The Don Quixote Chronotope: Paradoxical Paradoxes, or the Games of Cervantes 2. The Rabelais Chronotope: The Mysteries of Fairground Economics 3. The English Chronotope: The Cruel Illusionism of Realism Part II: Actors, Spectators and Critics in the Sublime Theatre of the Public Arena 4. Sublime Confusion: The Aesthetics of Intensity as an Anti-Platonic Revolt 5. Diderot, the Trickster-Outsider-Critic: The Actor as God in an Enlightened World 6. Lessing, the Trickster-Outsider-Critic: The Birth of German Enlightenment Out of the Spirit of Theatre Part III: The Goethe Chronotope: in Between Panopticon and Circus 7. Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Demonic Formation and Theatrical Re-Formation 8. Wilhelm Meister as Goethe’s Self-Overcoming: From Theatrical Mission to Walking 9. Promethean Modernity in Faust: From Asserting Titanic Poiesis to Diagnosing Alchemic Technology Part IV: Beneath and Beyond Romantic Enlightenment 10. Enlightened Romantics: From German Titanism to French Satanism 11. Charles Dickens: Retrieving the Reasons of the Heart 12. Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky: Standing Up Again After the Demonic Splits of Reason. Conclusion: Towards the Sacrificial Carnival.
Arpad Szakolczai is Professor of Sociology at UCC, Ireland.
‘a brilliant summation of an astonishingly ambitious intellectual project that attempts nothing less than a fundamental reassessment of the nature of modernity itself.’- Peter McMylor, British Journal of Sociology