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Literature & Criticism



The Dismemberment of Orpheus
Toward a Postmodern Literature
Second Edition
Ihab Hassan



In this book, the first edition of which was published in 1971 by Oxford University Press, Ihab Hassan takes Orphic dismemberment and regeneration as his metaphor for a radical crisis in art and language, culture and consciousness, which prefigures postmodern literature. The modern Orpheus, he writes, “sings on a lyre without strings.” Thus, his sensitive critique traces a hypothetical line from Sade through four modern authors—Hemingway, Kafka, Genet, and Beckett—to a literature still to come. But the line also breaks into two Interludes, one concerning ’Pataphysics, Dada, and Surrealism, and the other concerning Existentialism and Aliterature.

Combining literary history, brief biography, and critical analysis, Hassan surrounds these authors with a complement of avant-garde writers whose works also foreshadow the postmodern temper. These include Jarry, Apollinaire, Tzara, Breton, Sartre, Camus, Nathalie Sarraute, Robbe-Grillet, and in America, Cage, Salinger, Ginsberg, Barth, and Burroughs. Hassan takes account also of related contemporary developments in art, music, and philosophy, and of many works of literary theory and criticism.

For this new edition, Hassan has added a new preface and postface on the developing character of postmodernism, a concept which has gained currency since the first edition of this work, and which he himself has done much to theorize.

Ihab Hassan is emeritus Vilas Professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and author of more than 300 articles and reviews and of numerous books including The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture.


To schedule an interview with the author or to request a review copy of the book, contact our publicity manager, phone: (608) 263-0734, email: publicity@uwpress.wisc.edu




September 1982
LC: 81-069821 PN
338 pp.   5.5 x 8.25  

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Paper $24.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-09124-8
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The cloth edition, ISBN: 978-0-299-09120-0 is out of print.

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