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Lateness and Modern European Literature$
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Ben Hutchinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198767695

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198767695.001.0001

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Introduction: ‘The Old Age of the World’

Introduction: ‘The Old Age of the World’

(p.1) Introduction: ‘The Old Age of the World’
Lateness and Modern European Literature

Ben Hutchinson

Oxford University Press

The Introduction establishes the extent to which a shared model of lateness underpins the three conceptual categories of the title, namely the modern, the European, and the literary. Hans Blumenberg famously argued for the ‘legitimacy of the modern age’; is there a comparable argument to be made for the legitimacy of lateness? Understood as the opposite of progress—as the sense of an ending, rather than of a beginning—lateness emerges as a constituent element of European modernity as it struggles to demarcate itself from the past in order to define itself on its own terms. After considering the epistemology and etymology of lateness—and in particular how it relates to notions of ‘late style’—the Introduction proceeds to outline the ‘anxiety’ of lateness, and the ways in which it can be theorized as distinct from Harold Bloom’s anxiety of influence.

Keywords:   lateness, late style, legitimacy, modernity, literature

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