Desire and Its Discontents | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Monographs

Desire and Its Discontents

By Eugene Goodheart (NHC Fellow, 1987–88)

Desire; Modernism; Utopianism

New York: Columbia University Press, 1991

From the publisher’s description:

Challenging the imperialism of desire in contemporary academic discourse Goodheart confronts a crucial strain of utopianism in modern thought and literature. This utopianism is the position of desire in modern culture. Goodheart argues that the classic moderns (Proust, Durkheim, Mann, and Lawrence) appreciated desire for its potential to liberate the imagination, but also understood its tendencies toward destructiveness. Since the "cultural revolution" of the 1950s and 1960s, modern thoerists have forgotten or ignored the wise ambivalence of the classic moderns and their respect for boundaries, however fluid, between the writing life and life itself.

In Desire and Its Discontents Goodheart engages in a discourse with both the academy and general culture in an effort to discriminate among the discourses of desire: between Marcuse's "rationalism of desire" and Lacan's celebration of tragedy, and between early and late Foucault.

Literary Theory / Philosophy / Literary Criticism / Desire / Modernism / Utopianism /

Goodheart, Eugene (NHC Fellow, 1987–88). Desire and Its Discontents. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.