The Living Prism: Itineraries in Comparative Literature

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To play an important role in the human sciences, comparative literature had first to free itself of a number of restrictive habits, such as an insufficiently critical literary history. In order to do this, it had to think theoretically, but without yielding to the temptation of letting theory become an end in itself. Kushner demonstrates that, while under strong pressures to be a more rigorous science, comparative literature has realized that in the human sciences the validation of knowledge has to seek its own tests and criteria, becoming increasingly more open to individuality, difference and life situations, and controlling its tendency to universalize. With its emphasis on whether literary history is possible and the problems it raises for literary theory and for comparative literature in particular, The Living Prism adds an important dimension to the ongoing debate about criticism and comparative literary studies.

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McGill-Queen's University Press
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