Studies in Human Time
Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellis’ [Edith Mary Pargeter] ‘Peters Biography to Portrait of Dora (Portrait de Dora)
is a philosophical movement most frequently associated with the work of Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1900–61). It seeks to ground human understanding in perception rather than abstraction, and devotes particular attention to the workings of consciousness. Its chief literary application has been through the socalled Geneva School, led by Georges Poulet, whose followers have included, in France, Jean-Pierre Richard, and in America, J. Hillis Miller (1928– ). The phenomenological approach to literature seeks to understand an author from the inside, not as a collection of biographical incidents but as a mind making sense of itself and the world around it. It characteristically reads the works, letters, jottings of an author as a single, seamless text, a lifelong writing project rather than a series of individual books or communications. Poulet's Studies in Human Time (1949) brilliantly reconstructs what we may call the mentalities of major writers from Montaigne to Proust; Richard takes us into the universes of Mallarmé, Baudelaire, and others; Hillis Miller offers new orderings of the worlds of Dickens, and of modern English and American poets.