By David Perkins
"Profoundly looking out, but written with grace and lucidity. A unique historian and critic illuminates and solutions one of many significant difficulties of literary learn in a piece that might develop into and stay a classic."-W. Jackson Bate. "Perkins writes sincerely and concisely. Like René Wellek and M. H. Abrams, he has an admirable reward for making transparent the underlying assumptions of many various writers."-Comparative Literature.
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Extra info for Is Literary History Possible?
Catholic and Indian cultures, as unfolding paradigms of the feminine, indulge in beautiful forms that disguise corrupt contents. 36). Posited against this deviant, heterogeneous Aztec character is Prescott's own, one universally hailed for its geniality, its capacity to transmute difference into consensus. One panegyric review presents the historian as ideal simulacrum for expansionism itself.  Indeed, Prescott's ambivalence toward the violent "character" of Cortés permits the diffusion of ambivalence to political events.
19] If this commercialism broached class lines, it didn't breech them. For a man who claimed never to have "worked for the dirty lucre,"  the pursuit of a mass readership offered a reasonably decontaminated access to public power—a literary mastery free of the vulgarity of politics that Prescott at times associated with feminine corruption. "  For Prescott, the reading public, unlike the political public, was not an obstreperous or seductive woman but a site where class, gender, and generational differences might be molded into consensus through the powers of romantic narrative.
The incongruous Aztec character achieves its morphological expression by its volatile intermediate position in the world's civilizations. "The Aztec had plainly reached that middle station, as far above the rude races of the New World as it was below the cultivated communities of the Old" (330). At the same time, the "Egyptians were at the top of the scale, the Aztecs at the bottom" (56). But like the developing middle classes of capitalist America, the Aztecs' ― 48 ― middle station harbors the uneasy prospect of decline.