Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


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Futurity: Contemporary Literature and the Quest for the Past

Book (in German)

Amir Eshel - Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies, Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature, and the Chair of Graduate Studies, German Studies

Published by
Suhrkamp Verlag, page(s): 366
May 2012
Publication no. 978-3-633-54258-1

Clothcover (9780226924953) - $50.00
includes text in English (published by UChicago Press)

Clothcover - $50.00
includes text in German (published by Surkamp Verlag)

Bringing together postwar German, Israeli, and Anglo-American literature, Eshel traces a shared trajectory of futurity in world literature. He begins by examining German works of fiction and the debates they spurred over the future character of Germany’s public sphere. Turning to literary works by Jewish-Israeli writers as they revisit Israel’s political birth, he shows how these stories inspired a powerful reconsideration of Israel’s identity. Eshel then discusses post-1989 literature—from Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs to J. M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year—revealing how these books turn to events like World War II and the Iraq War not simply to make sense of the past but to contemplate the political and intellectual horizon that emerged after 1989. Bringing to light how reflections on the past create tools for the future, Futurity reminds us of the numerous possibilities literature holds for grappling with the challenges of both today and tomorrow.