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Artefacts of Writing: Ideas of the State and Communities of Letters from Matthew Arnold to Xu Bing

Artefacts of Writing: Ideas of the State and Communities of Letters from Matthew Arnold to Xu Bing (Hardback)

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Synopsis

Some forms of literature interfere with the workings of the literate brain, posing a challenge to readers of all kinds, including professional literary critics. In Artefacts of Writing, Peter D. McDonald argues they pose as much of a challenge to the way states conceptualise language, culture, and community. Drawing on a wealth of evidence, from Victorian scholarly disputes over the identity of the English language to the constitutional debates about its future in Ireland, India, and South Africa, and from the quarrels over the idea of culture within the League of Nations in the interwar years to UNESCO's ongoing struggle to articulate a viable concept of diversity, McDonald brings together a large ensemble of legacy writers, including T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Rabindranath Tagore, putting them in dialogue with each other and with the policy-makers who shaped the formation of modern states and the history of internationalist thought from the 1860s to the 1940s. In the second part of the book, he reflects on the continuing evolution of these dialogues, showing how a varied array of more contemporary writers from Amit Chaudhuri, J. M.

Coetzee, and Salman Rushdie to Antjie Krog, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, and Es'kia Mphahlele cast new light on a range of questions concerning education, literacy, human rights, translation, indigenous knowledge, and cultural diversity that have preoccupied UNESCO since 1945. At once a novel contribution to institutional and intellectual history and an innovative exercise in literary and philosophical analysis, Artefacts of Writing affords a unique perspective on literature's place at the centre of some of the most fraught, often lethal public controversies that defined the long-twentieth century and that continue to haunt us today

Essays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writersEssays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary theoryHistory & PoliticsPolitics & government Publisher: Oxford University Press Publication Date: 12/12/2017 ISBN-13: 9780198725152  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Peter D. McDonald was born in Cape Town in 1964 and educated in South Africa and England. He writes on literature, the modern state and the freedom of expression; the history of writing systems, cultural institutions and publishing; multilingualism, translation and interculturality; and on the limits of literary criticism. His publications include British Literary Culture and Publishing Practice, 1888-1914 (1997), Making Meaning: 'Printers of the Mind' and Other Essays by D. F. McKenzie (2002), edited with Michael Suarez, and The Literature Police: Apartheid Censorship and its Cultural Consequences (2009). He is a Fellow of St Hugh's College and Professor of English and Related Literature at the University of Oxford.

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