By Nina Levine, David Lee Miller

Harry Berger, Jr., has lengthy been one among our such a lot respected and revered literary and cultural critics. because the past due nineties, a flow of exceptional and cutting edge courses have proven how very wide his pursuits are, relocating from Shakespeare to baroque portray, to Plato, to theories of early culture.In this quantity a amazing crew of students gathers to have a good time the paintings of Harry Berger, Jr. To celebrate,in Berger's phrases, is to go to anything both in nice numbers otherwise frequently-to depart and are available again, depart and are available again, leave and are available again. Celebrating is what you do the second one or 3rd time round, yet now not the 1st. To have fun is to revisit. To revisit is to revise. occasion is the eureka of revision.Not purely former scholars yet individual colleagues and students come jointly in those pages to find Berger's eurekas-to revisit the rigor and originality of his feedback, and sometimes to revise its conclusions, throughout the enjoyment of strenuous engagement. Nineteen essays on Berger's Shakespeare, his Spenser, his Plato, and his Rembrandt, on his theories of interpretation and cultural switch and at the ethos of his severe and pedagogical kinds, open new methods to the marvelous ongoing physique of labor authored by way of Berger. An advent by means of the editors and an afterword by way of Berger himself position this competition of interpretation within the context of Berger's highbrow improvement and the reception of his paintings from the mid-twentieth century into the 1st decade of the twenty-first.

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In a similar manner, he has an eye that dwells lovingly on the surface texture or tension of Rembrandt paintings, looking for what is left out, refused, thickened, scraped in, or conspicuously reworked from earlier traditions. Such a mode of loving suspicion is generative as well as corrosive, partly because it remains suspicious of itself. This comes through in Berger’s way of catching himself up in the skeptical argument, lest anyone think him pure of the errors he is trying so hard to diagnose.

The two senses of ‘‘self-hatred’’ are not quite contradictory, yet neither is one simply a variant, subset, or source of the other. That precarious relation is what interests me here, though I have scarce time to sort it out. The principle paradox is that while the self in Berger is a dangerous thing—a source of disguised displacements and projections that wound both the self and others—it is the self’s very failure to dwell on its own fears and loves, its flight from the fear and ravishment of what is unknown in the self, that makes it such a threat.

The first one wrenches the commonplace sense of the phrase, since I use it to refer to a deep, instinctive distrust—if not outright hatred—of the human ego, self, or selfhood in Berger’s work. 23 24 Harry Berger and Self-Hatred It is a skepticism that will not let go of the heroes of a play or a romance, that will not let the description of a character—especially a self-description—rest on the pedestal of some fixed picture of virtue or nobility. He offers a cost accounting, a genealogical analysis, of readings that narrow the scope of human understanding, their way of feeding self-interest or self-love, and thus limit the powers of surprise.

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