Every single morning since early 2007, Princeton English professor Jeff Nunokawa has posted a brief essay in the Notes section of his Facebook page. Often just a few sentences but never more than a few paragraphs, these compelling literary and personal meditations have raised the Facebook post to an art form, gained thousands of loyal readers, and been featured in the New Yorker. In Note Book, Nunokawa has selected some 250 of the most powerful and memorable of these essays, many accompanied by the snapshots originally posted alongside them. The result is a new kind of literary work for the age of digital and social media, one that reimagines the essay’s efforts, at least since Montaigne, to understand our common condition by trying to understand ourselves.
Ranging widely, the essays often begin with a quotation from one of Nunokawa’s favorite writers—George Eliot, Henry James, Gerard Manley Hopkins, W. H. Auden, Robert Frost, or James Merrill, to name a few. At other times, Nunokawa is just as likely to be discussing Joni Mitchell or Spanish soccer striker Fernando Torres.
Confessional and moving, enlightening and entertaining, Note Book is ultimately a profound reflection on loss and loneliness—and on the compensations that might be found through writing, literature, and connecting to others through social media.
Assigning Wilde a place of honor in a heady company of thinkers drawn from the ranks of philosophy, sociology, economics, psychoanalysis, and contemporary queer theory--Kant, Marx, Simmel, Weber, Freud, Hannah Arendt, Albert O. Hirschman, Erving Goffman, Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick, and, of course, Michel Foucault--this is the first book to recognize Wilde not only as a blatant symptom of a familiar understanding of modern sexuality, but also as a grand theorist of the subject in his own right. The result is a wholly original portrait of the artist as a social critic who, in the midst of his humor, labored to illuminate and amend the book of love.
If the novel figures women as safe property, Nunokawa argues, the novel figures safe property as a woman. And if the novel identifies the angel of the house, the desexualized subject of Victorian fantasies of ideal womanhood, as safe property, it identifies various types of fiction, illicit sexualities, and foreign races with the enemy of such property: the commodity form. Nunokawa shows how these convergences of fiction, sexuality, and race with the commodity form are part of a scapegoat scenario, in which the otherwise ubiquitous instabilities of the marketplace can be contained and expunged, clearing the way for secure possession. The Afterlife of Property addresses literary and cultural theory, gender studies, and gay and lesbian studies.
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