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The disappearance of God: Five nineteenth-century writers [Hardcover]

J. Hillis Miller


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1963
A landmark work of literary criticism by one of the foremost interpreters of nineteenth-century England, "The Disappearance of God" confronts the consciousness of an absent (though perhaps still existent) God in the writings of Thomas De Quincey, Robert Browning, Emily Bront, Matthew Arnold, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. J. Hillis Miller surveys the intellectual and material developments that conspired to cut man off from God - among other factors the city, developments within Christianity, subjectivism, and the emergence of the modern historical sense - and shows how each writer's body of work reflects a sustained response to the experience of God's disappearance.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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"Miller's study combines great learning and sensitive reading of the texts... [A] fine example of humane scholarship." -- Virginia Quarterly Review "An original and searching work... [Miller] grapples seriously with the real, living issues with which nineteenth-century writers were concerned." -- A. Dwight Culler, Yale Review ADVANCE PRAISE "The Disappearance of God is without doubt one of the most penetrating and original works of criticism to appear in this country for quite a while." -- Paul De Man in Critical Writings, 1953-78 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Post-medieval literature records, among other things, the gradual withdrawal of God from the world. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pre-Deconstructionist View of the "Metaphysics of Presence" 12 May 2012
By Martin Asiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When J. Hillis Miller published THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GOD is 1963, Jacques Derrida was just a few short years from ripping the comforting veil of a divine logocentrism from a humanity that had always assumed that no matter how chaotic things became God was always somewhere lurking in the margins of daily existence. Miller could not have divined, of course, that his book would be seen as the ontologogical forerunner of a process called deconstruction that would similarly call for removing the Creator and Upholder of the Universe from the ken of man and woman. Miller hastens to add that he does not mean that God literally vanishes from sight (an interesting paradox in that it is debatable that God was always there anyway) but that God no longer occupies His accustomed throne. For reasons related to an increasing complexity of man's ability to use technology to build a metaphorical tower of Babel that would allow him to sit near that ubiquitous throne, God must have taken umbrage and departed in a divine huff, leaving for places unknown, somewhere "up there." Miller chose five 19th century authors (Browning, De Quincey, Arnold, Hopkins, and Bronte) all of whom are troubled by His unexplained absence. Miller's explanations of this quintet's writings are both commonsensical and persuasive. What I found most striking was Miller's conjecture that the removal of God would isolate mankind in a psychic prison devoid of all reference points outside of man himself. If God vanishes, how can man know for sure what if anything is left to provide a sure footing? A few years later beginning in 1967, Derrida and Foucault have provided an answer: that humanity is doomed to wallow in its collective excrescences as it looks upward for guidance and finding none must look inward for a logos that was never there in the first place. For those readers who wish to learn why deconstuction is so virulently anti-humanist as it is, a good place to start is Miller's THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GOD.
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