Writing the Passions is a book of literary criticism, of philosophy and of the politics of modernity. It explores the arguments on the location of feeling in literature; on the fragmentation of the self under the pressure of the passions; of the place of the passions in psychoanalytic practice and theory; and on the notions of multiplicity, soul, spirit, polytheism and animism developed from their bases in psychoanalytic and Derridean theory.
The relations between writing and the passions are addressed through individual texts, ranging across many centuries and from Europe to China. Writers and texts discussed include Plato, Andrew Marvell, Swinburne, Salman Rushdie, Iain Banks, Deleuze, Guattari and many others. Topics addressed include: the meaning of crime passionnel; art and the wound; passion and ceremonial; adoration and abjection; dread and disgust; the nature of the exotic; shame and irony; separation, incompletion and the cure.
Written in a uniquely engaging and accessible style, Writing the Passions provides readers with a fascinating exploration of the general notion of 'the passions', together with a set of historical insights into how the passions have been considered and treated in different literatures and cultures.
David Punter is Professor of English at the University of Bristol. His previous books include The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1765 to the Present Day (1980; revised 2 volume edition 1996); Romanticism and Ideology: Studies in English Writing 1765-1830 (with David Aers and Jonathan Cook, 1981); Blake, Hegel and Dialectic (1982) and The Hidden Script: Writing and the Unconscious (1985).
'This is a book that dazzles by its commitment as well as by its range, and that puts the blinkered and finicky projects of most university criticism in the shade. It calls to mind the historical reach of Kermode's Genesis of Secrecy, and before that Praz's The Romantic Agony and Auberbach's Mimesis while being, in itself, contemporary, and bravely so'. - Professor Geoff Ward, University of Dundee