The Mid-century Method of The Great Fire

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Book Chapter

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Publication Title

Shirley Hazzard: New Critical Essays


A Belated Reception

In his final book, On Late Style: Music and Literature against the Grain (2006), Edward Said distinguishes between two kinds of "artistic lateness". Observing that "[e]ach of us can supply ready evidence of how it is that late works crown a lifetime of artistic endeavor", Said seeks out instead "artistic lateness not as harmony and resolution but as intransigence, difficulty, and unresolved contradiction". Building on Adorno's fascination with Beethoven's "rejection of the new bourgeois social order" in his late works, Said locates the importance of "late style" as aesthetic category in those late works that pursue irresolution and paradox at the pointed expense of established social hierarchies and aesthetic value systems. Late works that take an easy victory lap at the end of a distinguished career might be well received in their time; late works that disrupt complacencies, however, will last.


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