Language and Literature . Literary Theory . Modernism . Philosophy

40 years of Oxford Literary Review

Oxford Literary Review (OLR) founded in 1977 by Ian McLeod, Ann Wordsworth and Robert J. C. Young, is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. To celebrate, in each month of 2017 the Edinburgh University Press blog will highlight an influential article published in OLR.

To start with, our January article is by none other than Jean-François Lyotard. Born in 1924 in Versailles, Lyotard had a full and exciting academic life. A literary theorist and a philosopher, he tackled many important topics such as aesthetics, the sublime, communication, politics, and perhaps most famously, his analysis on the effect of postmodernism on the human condition. Lyotard was critical about metanarrative and grand narratives and believed that small narratives, which he argued was the impetus behind postmodernist thinking, provided the most appropriate way to approach philosophy and politics.

Jean-Francois Lyotard
Jean-Francois Lyotard

In his 1981 article, ‘Analysing Speculative Discourse as Language-Game’, published in Oxford Literary Review, Lyotard looks at equivocality and the relationship between natural and speculative language. He says, “There is real joy for the mind in the discovery of the multiplicity of significations of a word in a natural language, and this joy is at its height when these significations are not only different, but opposed (entgegengesetzt).” The article has had a large impact on critical theories of narrative and Lyotard remains a key figure in modern philosophy.

We are fast approaching the 20th anniversary of Jean-François Lyotard’s death, and what better way to celebrate his influence, along with Oxford Literary Review’s anniversary, than by reading ‘Analysing Speculative Discourse as Language-Game’?

Access the article, free until 28th February, here: http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/olr.1981.005

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