The TORCH Oxford Phenomenology Network are hosting a seminar on 'Modernism, Existentialism, Postcriticism: Gabriel Marcel Reads Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage' with Adam Guy (Faculty of English, University of Oxford).
Included in the Harry Ransom Center’s holdings for the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973) is a set of reading notes on the British modernist writer Dorothy Richardson (1873-1957). These notes are the sole existing traces of Marcel’s reading of Richardson’s novel-sequence Pilgrimage, as well as various critical works on Richardson’s writing. In this paper, I will look at Marcel’s notes from two perspectives. First, by placing the notes in their own historical moment, I will discuss the convergences and divergences of modernism and existentialism. Second, from the perspective of the present moment, I will highlight a Marcelian legacy - via his major philosophical inheritor, Paul Ricoeur - in current discussions about ‘postcritical’ reading. ‘Can we be postcritical – as distinct from uncritical?’’, Rita Felski asks. Using Marcel’s notes on Richardson, I will consider whether the modernist novel has a special claim on such questions.