On Waiting

By Harold Schweizer

© 2008 – Routledge

158 pages

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Paperback: 9780415775076
pub: 2008-06-03
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Hardback: 9780415775069
pub: 2008-06-03
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About the Book

'This is a quite remarkable book, a pleasure to read. Not only is it clear and informative but also by turns witty, melancholic and insightful. The book is astonishingly erudite, but wears this learning so lightly and so charmingly that it is both easy and gripping to read.' Robert Eaglestone, Royal Holloway, University of London

Penelope waits by her loom for Odysseus, Vladimir and Estragon wait for Godot, all of us have to wait: for buses, phone calls and the kettle to boil. But do we know what the checking of one's watch and pacing back and forth is really all about? What is the relationship between waiting and time? Is there an ethics of waiting, or even an art of waiting? Do the internet, online shopping and text messaging mean that waiting has come to an end?

On Waiting explores such and similar questions in compelling fashion. Drawing on some fascinating examples, from the philosopher Henri Bergson's musings on a lump of sugar to Kate Croy waiting in Wings of the Dove to the writings of Rilke, Bishop, and Carver, On Waiting examines this ever-present yet overlooked phenomenon from diverse angles in fascinating style. On Waiting is the first book to present a philosophy of waiting.



'Being part of the purposively accessible Thinking in Action series, this is a relatively concise text. Yet Schweizer takes a series of challenging concepts and conveys them with extraordinary dexterity … a wonderfully-written book that truly sparkles.' David Bissell, Australian National University, Time & Society Review of Books

'Harold Schweizer’s new volume, On Waiting, is a finely crafted, finely considered exploration. It addresses with both simplicity of expression and complexity of understanding one of the major facts of our lives—that much of it is spent waiting.' - Jacqueline Vaught Brogan, Journal of Modern Literature

‘This is a quite remarkable book, a pleasure to read. Not only is it clear and informative but also by turns witty, melancholic and insightful. The book is astonishingly erudite, but wears this learning so lightly and so charmingly that it is both easy and gripping to read.’ – Robert Eaglestone, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

'Within these covers, Harold Schweizer has assembled a world of philosophical and literary musings on the time-tormented suspension of waiting. As we read his learned, lucid essay, an area of everyday experience swims into focus as if for the first time, the sentences on every page filled with an evocative, almost hypnotic charm. On Waiting is a deep plunge into the pleasure of thought.' Wendy Steiner, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Table of Contents

1. Nobody Likes to Wait 2. A Brief Theory of Waiting: Henri Bergson's Lump of Sugar 3. In the Waiting Room 4. Penelope's Insomnia 5. Lingering, Tarrying, Dwelling upon: Elizabeth Bishop's Poem 6. Waiting for Death: Ferdinand Hodler's Paintings of Valentine Gode-Darel 7. Waiting and Hoping: Raymond Carver's A Small, Good Thing

About the Author

Harold Schweizer is Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Bucknell University. He teaches courses in modern poetry, literary theory, holocaust studies, representations of suffering, and the comparative humanities. His publications include Suffering and the Remedy of Art (1997), The Bucknell Lectures in Literary Theory (ed. 1989-94), and others. His most recent publications, on the temporality of waiting, have appeared in Soundings, The University of Toronto Quarterly, and The Journal of Modern Literature.

About the Series

Thinking in Action

'Three of the first batch deserve high praise: On Immigration and Refugees, by the great logician (and campaigner for racial equality) Michael Dummett; On Belief, by that master of postmodern paradox, Slavoj Zizek; and On the Internet by Hubert L Dreyfus.' - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

This is clearly an important series. I look forward to reading future volumes.' - Frank Kermode, author of Shakespeare's Language

Both rigorous and accessible.' - Humanist News

The series looks superb.' - Quentin Skinner

'An excellent and beautiful series.' - Ben Rogers, author of A.J.Ayer: A Life

"Routledge's Thinking in Action series is the theory junkie's answer to the eminently pocketable Penguin 60s series.' - Mute Magazine

'Routledge's new series, Thinking in Action, brings philosophers to our aid.' - The Evening Standard

'A welcome new series by Routledge.' - Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society

Thinking in Action
is a major series that takes philosophy to its public. Each book in the series is written by a major international philosopher or thinker, engages with an important contemporary topic, and is clearly and accessibly written. The series informs and sharpens debate on topics as wide ranging as the internet, religion, the problem of immigration and refugees and the way we think about science. Punchy, short, and stimulating, Thinking in Action is an indispensable series of books for anyone who wants to think seriously about major issues confronting us today.

Edited by Simon Critchley, New School University, USA and Richard Kearney, Boston College, USA

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Aesthetics