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Gabriel Josipovici

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In this brilliant new book, a preeminent literary thinker muses over the central question of how we can feel at home in the world, given that the world is independent of and indifferent to our wishes. Drawing on books and films, cultural history and his own experiences, Gabriel Josipovici argues that it is possible to feel comfortable in the world and in our relationships with others only if we value touch over sight, if we respect distance but also work to overcome it.

Josipovici moves from a Charlie Chaplin movie to passages from Proust, from the world of sport to the world of addiction, from medieval pilgrimages to the cult of relics, from a wedding photograph of his grandparents to some of Chardin's most enigmatic paintings. Through these seemingly disparate topics he provides engaging and wise commentary on connection and communication in life. Contrasting the senses of sight and touch, Josipovici notes that although sight seems to give us the totality of what we behold, it is only when we walk or feel our way across the distances that things become more than images and begin to constitute the world in which we as touchers and not mere observers are included. If we depend on sight—which seems to offer a frictionless domination over reality—we may avoid the pains and uncertainties of living, but we also lose our involvement with life.

Lucid, imaginative, and daring, Josipovici's book will inspire and, yes, deeply touch us all.

Gabriel Josipovici is professor of English in the School of European Studies, University of Sussex. He has published thirteen novels and nine books of criticism and cultural theory, and he is a frequent writer and broadcaster on cultural subjects.

"If distinguishing between sight and touch is the founding gesture of this deeply thoughtful book, distinguishing between touch and grasp is what furthers all its finest flights."—Michael Wood, Kenyon Review

"[A] provocative new book. . . . The reader receives a rejuvenating touch of one of England's most original and creative writer-critics."—Bill Marx, Boston Globe

"The pleasure of reading Touch is both in the grace of Josipovici's writing and in never being able to guess where he is headed. . . . A wonderful, eccentric book."—Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

"Jossipovici's Touch gave me deep pleasure. It is a work, beautifully written and conceived, about one of our most common and yet most overlooked senses. We all need to touch. This book, invaluable to artists and writers—but indeed essential to everyone with a mind—ranges with charming freedom over the subject, in literature, legend and art."—Muriel Spark, Sunday Telegraph

"[Josipovici's] learning, culture and intelligence are worn as lightly as a straw hat. . . . A book to return to that sends one back to other books and pictures, and better, to a new look at a defamiliarized life around us. . . . Beautifully produced and . . . relevantly illustrated."—Herbert Lomas, London Magazine

"The refusal of this book to be placed in any recognizable genre will unsettle some readers, but to this reader its very fluidity and unexpectedness was part of its interest and delight."—Brian Horne, Expository Times

ISBN: 9780300181067
Publication Date: October 1, 1996
156 pages, 6 x 9
16 b/w illus.
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