a review of Anthony Uhlmann’s Thinking in Literature: Joyce, Woolf, Nabokov
The book’s conclusion puts it boldly: ‘art can and does have a particular relation to the real’. As always though, such arguments raise the question of whose reality is being evoked, and whether it is ‘really’ real, or merely a prop underwriting the rhetoric that resorts to it. Literary Deleuzianism is often marred by a kind of confirmation bias: its misapplications of substance monism too easily render everything analogous of everything else. For all that, Thinking in Literature represents a rare and robust attempt to reformulate the aesthetic and cognitive characteristics of modernism. One only wonders whether a category error isn’t at work when criticism bolsters its claims about literature by entailing claims about ontology.