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Volume 36 Number 4RSS

Volume 36 Number 4

Spring 2017

A Note on the Spring 2017 Issue

A few years ago, one of our contributors said to me, "Raritan is a good place to get thinking done." What she meant was that Raritan allows writers to follow their curiosity wherever it leads, without requiring a tidy resolution. Her comment reflects Raritan’s commitment to providing a space for long-form essays and sustained reflection, and the writers in this issue are thinking through some problems that have long remained controversial and not easily resolved.

Take, for example, David Bromwich’s opening essay on Lincoln. Bromwich wants to understand why--in both scholarly and popular understanding--the conception of Lincoln has shifted from thinking of him as a “radical and determined” president to seeing him as a moderate pragmatist, for whom the issue of slavery was a secondary consideration in the larger goal of keeping the Union together. Bromwich provides a fresh reading that reveals a radical realist Lincoln, determined to finish off slavery for good even while he restored the Union.

In this issue, you can also hear Leslie Brisman thinking about a timely problem of interpretation in biblical scholarship--what does it mean to say God is the “Savior of all men” (1 Timothy 4:10) in the light of other texts suggesting that salvation is reserved for Christians alone? And, among other contributors, Barry Schwabsky seeks to understand how the notion of aura worked for Walter Benjamin, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen wonders whether mid-twentieth-century existentialism still has something to teach us about how to live, and Ross Posnock performs an extended reading of William Gaddis’s novel The Recognitions to explore the mystery of why contemporary readers hold Gaddis in such low esteem. (If you read Jonathan Franzen’s 2002 New Yorker essay “Mr. Difficult: William Gaddis and the Problem of Hard-to-Read Books,” you will want to read Posnock’s riposte. Difficulty has found a new and incisive defender.)

And while the essay is the traditional form that provides opportunities “to get thinking done,” our pages offer other forms of aesthetic pleasure inspired by, and inspiring, reflection--the poetry of Henri Cole, Fanny Howe, and Nate Klug, the arresting art of Larissa Bates. This is just a sampling but I trust it’s enough to excite your interest in what people are thinking about in this issue of Raritan.

Stephanie Volmer
Managing Editor

Hobson's Choice

The Impossibility of Seeing: Animals of the Universal History of the Things of New Spain, or the Florentine Codex

Larissa Bates

Lincoln as Realist and Revolutionist

The Savior of All Human Beings

Leslie Brisman

Two Poems

Boring Howells

Brian Seto McGrath

Sophistication and the Fear of Art: On William Gaddis

Ross Posnock

Four Poems

Nate Klug

Aura as Medium: Walter Benjamin Reconsidered

Barry Schwabsky

Hannah Arendt and the Uses of Literature

Richard H. King

Path Wisdom

Christina M. Gillis

Ambivalence (poetry)

Fanny Howe

Culture Wars and the Humanities in the Age of Neoliberalism

Still Enlightening After All These Years

George Scialabba

What Is Living and What Is Dead in Existentialism?

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen

\"Killer\" Putin and American Exceptionalism

David Foglesong

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