Bleak Liberalism

Paperback | November 30, 2016

byAmanda Anderson

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Why is liberalism so often dismissed by thinkers from both the left and the right? To those calling for wholesale transformation or claiming a monopoly on “realistic” conceptions of humanity, liberalism’s assured progressivism can seem hard to swallow. Bleak Liberalism makes the case for a renewed understanding of the liberal tradition, showing that it is much more attuned to the complexity of political life than conventional accounts have acknowledged.

Amanda Anderson examines canonical works of high realism, political novels from England and the United States, and modernist works to argue that liberalism has engaged sober and even stark views of historical development, political dynamics, and human and social psychology. From Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Hard Times to E. M. Forster’s Howards End to Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, this literature demonstrates that liberalism has inventive ways of balancing sociological critique and moral aspiration. A deft blend of intellectual history and literary analysis, Bleak Liberalism reveals a richer understanding of one of the most important political ideologies of the modern era.

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Why is liberalism so often dismissed by thinkers from both the left and the right? To those calling for wholesale transformation or claiming a monopoly on “realistic” conceptions of humanity, liberalism’s assured progressivism can seem hard to swallow. Bleak Liberalism makes the case for a renewed understanding of the liberal tradition...

Amanda Anderson is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English and the director of the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University. She is the author of several books, including, most recently, The Way We Argue Now: A Study in the Cultures of Theory.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.6 inPublished:November 30, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226923525

ISBN - 13:9780226923529

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“I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Anderson turns to a combination of literary criticism and intellectual history to show how liberalism can accommodate—and indeed is articulated in relation to—a ‘bleak’ view of history and society, that is, one which does not downplay the social and historical centrality of crisis, fluidity/unpredictability, and violence. Bleak Liberalism knows exactly what it wants to say, and what it wants to say is important and will interest many.”