'The Broken Cont(r)act': George Steiner's Idea of Modernism
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This article is an expanded commentary on George Steiner's 'The Broken Contract', an essay which explores the modernist crisis of the logocentric order. Steiner traces its origins to Rimbaud's 'split subject', Mallarmés's negation of linguistic reference and the writings of Nietzsche. Modernism, also known as a the Age of the epi-Logue, reveals itself as a radicalization of the nihilist, attitudes of those precursors. Meanwhile both philosophical and literary 'reality quests' blot out the sphere of meaning in pursuit of more archaic senses. From the anthropological perspective, Steiner's broken contract is a conceptualization of conventionalized cultural patterns. Steiner's suggested resolution, ie. hermeneutics, diffuses the antagonism between the ages of Logos and EpiLogue and reduces the dramatic vision of a hiatus between the world and the word to the practice of reading signs, which are inseparable from fiction.
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