Intimate Strangers: Arendt, Marcuse, Solzhenitsyn, and Said in American Political Discourse

Hardcover | August 26, 2014

byAndreea Deciu Ritivoi

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Hannah Arendt, Herbert Marcuse, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Edward Said each steered major intellectual and political schools of thought in American political discourse after World War II, yet none of them was American, which proved crucial to their ways of arguing and reasoning both in and out of the American context. In an effort to convince their audiences they were American enough, these thinkers deployed deft rhetorical strategies that made their cosmopolitanism feel acceptable, inspiring radical new approaches to longstanding problems in American politics. Speaking like natives, they also exploited their foreignness to entice listeners to embrace alternative modes of thought.

Intimate Strangers unpacks this "stranger ethos," a blend of detachment and involvement that manifested in the persona of a prophet for Solzhenitsyn, an impartial observer for Arendt, a mentor for Marcuse, and a victim for Said. Yet despite its many successes, the stranger ethos did alienate many audiences, and critics continue to dismiss these thinkers not for their positions but because of their foreign point of view. This book encourages readers to reject this kind of critical xenophobia, throwing support behind a political discourse that accounts for the ideals of citizens and noncitizens alike.

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From the Publisher

Hannah Arendt, Herbert Marcuse, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Edward Said each steered major intellectual and political schools of thought in American political discourse after World War II, yet none of them was American, which proved crucial to their ways of arguing and reasoning both in and out of the American context. In an effort to...

Andreea Deciu Ritivoi is professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research focuses on immigration, exile, political discourse, argumentation theory, and intellectual history. She is the author of Yesterday's Self: Nostalgia and the Immigrant Identity and Paul Ricoeur: Tradition and Innovation in Rhetorical Theory.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:August 26, 2014Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231168683

ISBN - 13:9780231168687

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. The Stranger Persona2. Hannah Arendt: The Thinker and the American Republic3. Herbert Marcuse's German Revolution in America4. Cold War Prophesies: Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Mythological America5. Edward Said and the Clash of IdentitiesConclusionNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

Unusual and illuminating... Essential reading for students of literature, philosophy, and post-World War II American intellectual history.