- ISBN 9780718830670 / 0718830679
- Title Take Back the Past
- Author George Watson
- Category Literary Theory
- Format Paperback
- Year 2007
- Pages 196
- Publisher Lutterworth Press
- Imprint Lutterworth Press
- Language English
- Dimensions 156mm x 11mm x 234mm
'Critical theorists in our time sought foundations of knowledge because they knew there were none to be found, and critical scepticism became a convenient way of burying evidence and saving face. By now, however, no one is interested, the audience has gone home, and the case for studying literature needs to begin again. It cannot start too soon.' In 'Take Back the Past', George Watson examines the reasons and motives for the failure of critical theory. Why, he asks, is it more fashionable to look knowing than to know? Why did literature destroy its own case? The book shows how the collapse of socialism in the late twentieth century and how the exposure of its unique responsibility for genocide panicked the prophets of advanced thought into the denial of knowledge itself. It is a story of betrayal and deceit - achieved, like a conjurer's trick, by the suppression of evidence.
“Critical theorists in our time sought foundations of knowledge because they knew there were none to be found, and critical scepticism became a convenient way of burying evidence and saving face. By now, however, no-one is interested, the audience has gone home, and the case for studying literature needs to begin again. It cannot start too soon.” In Take Back the Past, George Watson considers the reasons for the apparent failure of the previous century's critics to find the theoretical foundations of critical judgement. He asks why is it “more fashionable to look knowing than to know,” and cites political and historical reasons for this lapse in knowledge and critical thinking. In this new study, a worthy addition to his work on the subject, Watson contemplates the collapse of socialism in the late 20th Century and how it lead to the denial of knowledge and the general degeneration of literary thought. “My object here,” he tells the reader, “is to find a way back to a sense of a unity of knowledge and the objectivity of judgement: to recover a radical purpose of literature.”
George Watson is a Fellow in English at St. John's College, Cambridge. He is the author of The Literary Critics, to which Never Ones for Theory? is a sequel, and general editor of the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature.