Cover: Twilight of the Literary: Figures of Thought in the Age of Print, from Harvard University PressCover: Twilight of the Literary in PAPERBACK

Twilight of the Literary

Figures of Thought in the Age of Print

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$32.00 • £25.95 • €29.00

ISBN 9780674017719

Publication Date: 03/15/2005


304 pages


By mastering foreign languages and reading widely, Cochran was able to write what amounts to two books in one, both focused on language. The first is historical. Beginning with Dante’s defense of vernacular languages as alternatives to monolithic Latin, the author describes how this initiated the Babel of tongues expressed in rising city and national states… Cochran points out that now technology-driven nonprint media have overwhelmed the effort to systematize and control knowledge on behalf of the middle class. Cultural crisis ensues. The second book, interwoven with the first, offers a solution. Relying on neo- (or para-) Marxists…for whom history is a plurality of contested discourses—each dominated by a prince (à la Machiavelli) or class (à la Marx)—Cochran argues that hitherto powerless subaltern groups (e.g., colonized ‘natives,’ women, etc.) can exploit the current pandemonium and displace its capitalist rulers.—D. H. Stewart, Choice

Twilight of the Literary has profound consequences for those who, especially currently in the academic humanities, carry out work which they consider to be ‘new,’ ‘revisionist,’ ‘oppositional,’ or ‘postmodernist’—in general, ‘free’ of the traditions of European thinking which, rightly or wrongly, they identify as obstacles to new knowledges, identities, and social practices. Cochran’s text is impressively thorough in its analysis of the foundational processes of knowledge practices within the formations of modernity. This is a book about our world and how we might be said to have come to be who and where we are, and why, in large part, we now have so much trouble thinking about our situation.—Paul Bové, author of Mastering Discourse: The Politics of Intellectual Culture

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