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Over his distinguished career as a Europeanintellectual historian and cultural critic, Martin Jay has explored a variety ofmajor themes: the Frankfurt School, the exile of German intellectuals in Americaduring the Nazi era, Western Marxism, the denigration of vision in twentieth-centuryFrench thought, the discourse of experience in modern Europe and America, and lyingin politics. "Essays from the Edge" assembles Jay'swritings from the intersections of this intellectual journey. Several essays focuson methodological debates in the humanities and social sciences: the limits ofinterdisciplinarity, the issue of national or universal philosophy, culturalrelativism and visuality, and the implications of periodization in historicalnarrative. Others examine the concept of "scopic regime" and themetaphors of revolution and the gardening impulse. Among the theorists treated atlength are Theodor Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault. Theessays also include several of Jay's "Salmagundi"columns, dealing with subjects as varied as the new Museum of Modern Art in NewYork, the impact of Colin Wilson's The Outsider, and the demise of the"PartisanReview."
All of these efforts canbe considered what Arthur Schopenhauer called, to borrow the title of one of hismost celebrated collections, "parerga and paralipomena." As essaysfrom the edges of major projects, they illuminate Jay's major arguments, elaboratepoints made only in passing in the larger texts, and explore ideas farther thanwould have been possible, given the focus of the larger works themselves. The resultis a lively, diverse offering from an extraordinaryintellect.
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