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Abstract

Critically speaking, we live in interesting times--as in the Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times." My title refers to Derrida's claim that all organized narration is a "matter for the police." I am using this famous slogan as a shorthand for the radical critique of narrative and representation which surfaces in much contemporary theory and which makes these times so "interesting"--that is, both provocative and disturbing. In this view Narrative is a way of knowing that "tracks, tames, frames the world under the aegis of the Law (in its various incarnations as the Father, the Censor, the Institution, the State, and ultimately, the Word)." "Shandy Hall" in my title is shorthand both for the realistic novel, a practice allegedly impelled by this motive to track and frame, and for the eighteenth-century culture in which the novel originates and flourishes. Thus, according to this view of the novel, it is no accident that a kind of narrative which tracks characters in a minutely discriminated temporal-spatial grid should arise in a culture discovering similar techniques for rationalizing time and space in the interests of productivity and surveillance--a sinister Enlightenment which, David Harvey tells us, the "core of Post-Modernists" would have us "abandon" in the interests of "human emancipation."

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