Reviews

 

Of Dying for time  

"The Swedish philosopher and literary scholar Martin Hägglund has swiftly established himself at the center of some of today’s most lively intellectual debates… Dying for Time delivers a revolutionary reading of the ways in which modernist writers express elemental aspects of human existence. In the process, it disproves the idea that deconstruction—or, indeed, literary theory per se—is always off-puttingly arid and abstract. Hägglund’s approach is absolutely the opposite… This is a book that brings literature and theory into forceful collision with life’s underlying realities. The resulting insight is resolutely atheistic: neither art nor thought allows access to another world of timeless perfection. Instead, each is irreducibly interwoven with the world in which we live. Some say that literary theory is dead, out of fashion, a thing of the past. But Hägglund shows how it can and should go on living: in unflinching fidelity to how it feels to be human." 

David Winters, Los Angeles Review of Books

 

"Martin Hägglund has changed forever how we see the modern novel’s relation to time. Richly argued and lyrical in its celebration of narrative experience, his book shows that what animates the pages of Proust, Woolf, and Nabokov is not the longing for immortality but the keen wish to continue in time."

Elaine Scarry, Harvard University

 

"Dying for Time is brilliant and innovative. From this point forward, one would be hard pressed to think through questions of desire without turning to Hägglund's study. But much of what makes Dying for Time so remarkable is its attention to modernist masterpieces that continue to demand our critical attention and our emotional investment as readers. Whereas in Radical Atheism Hägglund emerges as an influential philosopher of deconstructionist thought, in Dying for Time he asserts himself as a formidable literary critic."

Jennifer Yusin, Journal of Modern Literature

 

"Eminently readable and engrossingly polemical... Rather than an ontological lack, Hägglund argues, it is the condition of time that is constitutive of desire."

Marc Farrant, Times Literary Supplement

 

"What distinguishes this important book is that it allows us to understand these canonical modernist concerns [temporality, mourning, and desire] in a wholly new way... It is the true nature of temporal experience that we are returned to by Hägglund's profound and brilliant book, a work of literary criticism as timely as it is untimely."

Adam Kelly, Modernism/Modernity

 

"Revolutionary... Dying for Time: Proust, Woolf, Nabokov ultimately convinces one of the validity of its author’s Derrida-influenced challenge, as Martin Hägglund carefully refutes prominent critics, as well as Freud and Lacan, and consistently proves the validity of his chronolibidinal reading of these texts. Not only do we see how deconstruction is put to a new advantage via Hägglund’s approach, but one is also moved by the elemental struggle to survive depicted in each of these three modernist writers."

Helane Levine-Keating, Woolf Studies Annual

 

"Brilliant...Beginning with his influential writings on deconstruction and atheism, Hägglund's work can be read as an attempt to recover concepts that have traditionally been associated with divinity for a secular mode of enquiry: what metaphysics is for Heidegger, theology is for Hägglund...As an alternative to arguments that rely on transcendence, whether as inescapable fantasy or as religious doctrine, Hägglund develops an authentically secular analysis of love...A major accomplishment."

                                                                                                                              Emily Vasiliauskas, Cambridge Quarterly Review                                                         

"This is an excellent rereading of these canonical works, which deal with the subject's preoccupation with time and loss and explore universal themes of mourning, memory, and subjectivity. Summing up: Highly recommended."

D.L. Spanfelner, Choice

  

"Dying for Time has much higher goals than simply challenging the established, traditional reading of Proust, Woolf and Nabokov with respect to questions such as time, mortality, memory or trauma and achieves more than it promises at its inception… Apart from opening an innovative hermeneutical perspective on the works of Proust, Woolf and Nabokov—which could prove itself very fruitful for further and more in depth literary and philosophical analysis of the texts—Hägglund’s book successfully challenges the traditional understanding of time, finitude and temporal being and offers a sound solution to the paradoxical logic of desire. Although Hägglund’s work is to some extent indebted to Derrida’s thinking, the concept of chronolibido can nevertheless be seen as one of the book’s original contributions to the revisal of the traditional understanding of time and our relation to it and to our temporal finitude."

Paul-Gabriel Sandu, Metapsychology

 

"A major intervention into psychoanalytic theory... Hägglund offers a model of trauma that neither prescribes nor restricts the possibilities for ethical remembrance, replacing a static binary of 'working through' vs. 'acting out' with a provisional reckoning, invested not in trauma's endless repetition but its surviving, shifting legacy."

Sarah Senk, MLN: Modern Language Notes                      

"This book takes a shot across the bow of literature, reexamining the great works of Proust, Woolf, and Nabokov. Martin Hägglund takes on other professors in how they interpreted these great authors. He leaves no stone unturned and no major work untouched... Hägglund makes a convincing argument."

Kevin Winters, San Francisco Book Review 

 

"This book develops a significant and original theory of desire, disputing traditional philosophical and psychoanalytic accounts, and it reads novels by Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, and Vladimir Nabokov in light of this theory, challenging the critical consensus that attends them... Hägglund convincingly draws out assumptions that otherwise divergent readers hold in common. Still more convincing is the way he draws out evidence from the literary texts in support of his arguments, even if this means challenging those texts' self-understanding."

Audrey Wasser, Modern Philology

 

"Dying for Time provides important readings of the works of Proust, Woolf, and Nabokov, all three envisaged from the point of view of temporality. Here again, Hägglund operates with the concept of 'survival,' a vantage point that allows him to tackle difficult and central issues in the corpus of these authors. He has original and compelling analyses."

Jean-Michel Rabaté, Derrida Today 

 

"A compelling rethinking of the link between time and desire coupled with singularly insightful readings of novels by Marcel Proust (À la recherche du temps perdu), Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse), and Vladimir Nabokov (Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle). Both as theory (of desire) and as practice (of literary analysis), Dying for Time is an unqualified success."

Robert S. Lehman, Theory and Event

 

"Few academic careers have proceeded quite so meteorically as Martin Hägglund's... Dying for Time is an important book by an important thinker, one that ought to serve as a filip to modernists and theorists alike."

Keith Leslie Johnson, Symploke

 

"Tremendously fruitful... To the extent that literary criticism exists to return the reader to the text, to reveal how much richer and more complex it is than one's memory of it or thesis about it, Hägglund succeeds admirably."

Tim Langen, Russian Review 

 

"Dying for Time is a clarion call for the relevance of philosophy, and reading, to life, and to how we live it." 

William Egginton, Open Humanities Press

 

"Dying for Time has the chance to become a minor classic… beyond the crises of the humanities it leads the desire of the writer and the reader back to its origin in a care for something whose value is only underlined by the withering of time."

Klas Molde, Dagens Nyheter

  

"A riveting sequel to Hägglund’s brilliant Radical AtheismDying for Time offers a telling critique of traditional approaches to time in modernist fiction and explores a different scheme of values: neither aiming at transcendence nor regretting the impossibility of transcendence, but inextricably linked to our mortality. A critical tour de force."

Jonathan Culler, Cornell University

 

 

Of Radical Athetism

"Martin Hägglund has produced an exceptional work. It is peerless and groundbreaking in its originality and contributes the most consistent, compelling and complete articulation of Derrida’s work…. In summation Radical Atheism is daring and persuasive in opening up materialist and atheistic vistas for future deconstructive analysis. Derrida is portrayed as a philosopher concerned with the thick of life in its vicissitudes. It offers a forceful account of how Derrida meditates on questions of life and death, good and evil, politics and the meaning of mortality. It will prove attractive to all readers of Derrida, professional and student alike and undoubtedly will become a definitive starting point for understanding deconstruction."

Patrick O'Connor, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology

 

"In the very insightful and intelligent book by Martin Hägglund….his analysis reaches what we could call the zero degree of deconstruction, the point at which deconstructive logics show their internal potential and cannot be assimilated to any of the various discourses—ethicist, religious, and so forth—which have tried to hegemonize it."

Ernesto Laclau, Diacritics

 

"In his important and hard-hitting new book, Martin Hägglund lucidly delineates the argument by means of which Derrida problematises the desire for plenitude in its various guises, and on the strength of this clarity of insight offers trenchant critiques of a number of interpretations of Derridean thought that simplify or distort it…Hägglund goes on to show in a sharper light even than Derrida elected to do how [time] provides the basis for the latter’s treatment of the most far-reaching topics, starting with life itself…Hägglund has shown superbly how Derrida’s account of time underlies his explorations of these ethical topics, and how unlike traditional ethical postures the results are." 

Derek Attridge, Derrida Today

 

"Hägglund writes so well, argues so persuasively, and clears the interpretative field in such a confident and strident manner that if one is willing to engage this work it is hard not to be swept up by it and won over to its side. Indeed it is difficult not to think that Hägglund has figured out Derrida’s logic like no one else really has, that he has not so much put Derrida’s thought in a nutshell as completely cracked the nut, and that no one will be able to understand Derrida’s work adequately without coming to terms with the arguments Hägglund makes in this work…. Arguing by means of both a judicious use of Derrida’s own works and a relentless critique of many well-known commentators on Derrida, Hägglund shows the deficiencies of all other interpretations of Derrida that fail to take into account the full implications of the trace and radical finitude."

Michael Naas, The New Centennial Review

 

"Radical Atheism is the most accurate, insightful, and complete account anyone has produced so far of Derrida’s thought. Hägglund refutes a whole panoply of influential misreadings of Derrida, and he does so with a flair and clarity rarely attained by writers on deconstruction."

Henry Staten, The New Centennial Review

 

"Like the best of philosophers measured by Nietzschean standards, Hägglund could be characterized as marvelously ‘untimely’…. [a] superlative conceptual-theoretical analysis."

Adrian Johnston, The New Centennial Review

 

 "As a reading of Derrida's position on theism and atheism, I venture, the book is exhaustive and unimpeachable. I also find it deeply satisfying as an ethical (if you will) treatise on the desirability of immortality....We need such a book, just as we need Martin Hägglund, because the illusions of metaphysics are powerful and hard to dispel."

William Egginton, The New Centennial Review

 

"Radical Atheism is a brilliant book, brilliant in pursuing a logic through to its end... Hägglund has proposed a comprehensive interpretation of Derrida which requires not a few good one-liners squeezed into a standard book review but a re-narration of deconstruction as a whole... His book has reinvented Derrida for the younger generation."

John D. Caputo, Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory

 

"Radical Atheism has already received a degree of critical attention that marks out its claim to be the major event in Derrida scholarship since the death of Jacques Derrida himself in 2004...Martin Hägglund’s revisionary thesis has been the subject not only of copious journal reviews, but of a number of lengthy essays by important Derrida scholars. These high-profile responses have been demanded both by the impressive extent to which Hägglund fulfils his stated aims, ‘to always strive for clarity and to philosophize with the hammer,’ and by his methods of argumentation… Radical Atheism brilliantly overturns some of the very premises of logical and philosophical thought, but does so in a discourse that is exemplary precisely for its logical rigour and philosophical seriousness."

Adam Kelly, International Journal of Philosophical Studies

 

"What distinguishes Hägglund’s book is the philosophical acumen with which he delineates its consequences and the rigour with which he deploys them against the faux amis of deconstruction…. Whether or not one finds the philosophy that Hägglund expounds compelling, the rare virtue of his book is that it forces us to assess that philosophy correctly."

Nathan Brown, Radical Philosophy

 

"Martin Hägglund’s Radical Atheism is a tour de force...It lives up to [its] bold claim, offering a remarkable tour of Jacques Derrida’s diverse and demanding oeuvre via lucid arguments and clear prose. Hägglund demonstrates an impressive command of Derrida’s corpus, marshaling these materials skillfully and effectively in rigorous, firmly grounded textual analyses...[It is] certainly worthy of the attention it continues to receive, both for its own merits and because any discussion of Derrida and religion will now have to attend to and contend with Hägglund’s powerful text."

William Robert, Sophia

 

"Through his argumentation...Hägglund has at once placed himself at the center of the international academic battle over the legacy of deconstruction...Radical Atheism is a book that truly deserves respect as well as praise. It is philosophically both advanced and multifaceted in its endeavor, and through its clarity it forces to reader to take a clear stance."

Hans Ruin, OEI

 

"A commanding and refreshing interpretation of Derrida which promises to be a crucial intervention in critical disagreements over Derrida's legacy...Radical Atheism is an important and prescient volume...It re-assesses Derrida's work and its philosophical futures with care, vision, and scholarly rigour, serving to regenerate interest in Derrida for a generation of philosophers for whom his name has fallen out of fashion."

Danielle Sands, Parrhesia

 

"In this explosive little book on Derrida….Hägglund extracts and explicates what he claims is the core idea of Derrida’s work, writing without the piousness, esoterism, or obliqueness that has critically imprisoned his subject…. Hägglund’s refutation of the idea of an ethical turn in deconstruction is definitive and his association of Derrida’s thought with radical atheism is compelling."

Brian Rajski, The Voice Imitator

 

"The tremendous clarity, depth, and insight of Hägglund's analysis and development of Derrida's notion of 'spacing,' and its implications for those who would seek to derive ethical or political prescriptions from deconstruction...[provides] an incisive reading of Derrida's deconstructions of time and presence and their relevance from his earliest to his latest works."

Joshua Andresen, Philosophy Today

 

"Especially admirable….Martin Hägglund’s Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life is a decisive rejoinder to those seeking to capture deconstruction for religion."

Jonathan Culler, preface to the 25th anniversary edition of On Deconstruction

 

"Impeccably argued, Radical Atheism is bound to have a significant impact on Derrida scholarship. By developing the logic of survival, Hägglund convincingly demonstrates that Derrida is essentially a philosopher of life, but of the only life there is – the life of finite beings – and hence a radical thinker of temporality. It is a very courageous book as well that critically takes issue with the negative theologians’ appropriation of Derrida and makes the unprecedented argument that Derrida’s reflections on the temporal conditions of life in general imply that God, if there is any, necessarily is mortal."

Rodolphe Gasché, SUNY Buffalo

 

"With exceptional care and insight, Hägglund construes the vital implications and enduring positions of Derrida’s work."

Avital Ronell, New York University