In his newest book, Radical Indecision, esteemed scholar Leslie Hill poses the following question: If the task of a literary critic is to make decisions about the value of a literary work or the values embodied in it, decisions in turn based on some inherited or established values, what happens when that piece of literature fails to subscribe to the established values? Put another way, how should literary criticism respond to the paradox that in order to make critical judgments of literary works, it is first necessary to suspend judgment and to consider the impossibility of making a final decision? Hill pursues these ideas in the works of leading French critics Roland Barthes, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida, discussing writers such as Sade, Mallarmé, Proust, Artaud, Genet, Celan, and Duras.
Hill concludes that, despite their differences, Barthes, Blanchot, and Derrida share a conviction that criticism cannot take place without exposure to that resistance to decision that is inseparable from reading and that they address diversely as the “neuter” or the “undecidable.” Radical Indecision offers the first sustained exploration of the “undecidable.” This comprehensive book breathes new life into the discipline of literary theory and will be essential reading for students and scholars alike.
“Radical Indecision offers vivid and compelling original readings of Barthes, Blanchot, and Derrida. Leslie Hill provides much more than another guide to three major theoreticians. He makes concrete sense of Derrida’s concept of the undecidable and of a ‘justice to come’ in the field of literary studies. This outstanding book is the work of a seasoned commentator who has gained international visibility by his canonical books on Beckett and Blanchot, who is a major player in the fields of deconstruction and literary phenomenology.” — Jean-Michael Rabaté, University of Pennsylvania
“ Radical Indecision is a big book by an eminent literary critic at the height of his powers. On every page there are insights and formulations that readers will find clarifying and intriguing. There is no other book quite like it.” — Kevin Hart, University of Virginia
“Readers familiar with Leslie Hill’s previous distinguished studies of Beckett, Duras, Blanchot, Bataille, and Klossowski will not be disappointed with this challenging and erudite exposition of ‘radical indecision’ as Hill teases out the future in and of literary criticism from select writings of his current trio of authors. . . . Hill delivers overall a highly persuasive account of the way the literary work, escaping all definition, invokes the laws by which it demands to be read and simultaneously suspends those laws in a perpetually unactualizable future.” — French Studies