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New Left Review 66, November-December 2010

gopal balakrishnan


On Jameson’s Valences of the Dialectic

After so many groundbreaking variations on the theme, it will perhaps not come as a surprise that new material from Fredric Jameson offers yet another occasion to think about what it means to historicize. [1] Fredric Jameson, Valences of the Dialectic, London and New York 2009. Conceived as a further instalment in a series named The Poetics of Social Forms, the latest collection of essays expands upon a complex of problems that first came together in The Political Unconscious, which was the fountainhead of a whole body of work on the ideologies of narrative form. Building on his earlier summa of inter-war Marxist literary criticism, Marxism and Form, Jameson here took on board post-war intellectual formations that had long stood at a distance, and even in opposition to, this tradition—structuralism, formalism and hermeneutics, to name only a few. In the heyday of Theory, Jameson moved above the polemics that once divided its many schools, gleaning paradoxical ideological patterns that, in his view, only an absolute historicism was in a position to recognize.

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Gopal Balakrishnan, ‘The Coming Contradiction’, NLR 66: £3

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