David Farrell Krell, The Cudgel and the Caress: Reflections on Cruelty and Tenderness – SUNY Press, 2019
I shared news of Krell’s recent The Sea: A Philosophical Encounter a couple of days ago. Thanks to Ron Sexton for commenting that he has another new book out. Currently only in expensive hardback and e-book, but SUNY usually do paperback fairly soon. The first chapter is available here.
Offers philosophical and psychological reflections on cruelty and tenderness.
The Cudgel and the Caress explores the enduring significance of tenderness and cruelty in a range of works across philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literature. Divided into two parts, the book initially focuses on tenderness, with David Farrell Krell delivering original readings of Homer’s Iliad, Sophocles’s Antigone, and writings by Hölderlin, Hegel, Freud, and Derrida that deal with the importance of tenderness and the tragic consequences of its absence. Part One concludes with an extended reading of Robert Musil’s Man Without Qualities, in which Krell analyzes the tender relationship between Ulrich and Agathe. In Part Two, Krell begins by examining Otto Rank’s Birth Trauma, which reflects on the tenderness of gestation in the womb and the cruel necessity of birth. He then turns to an examination of cruelty in general, focusing on Derrida’s challenge to contemporary psychoanalysis, his opposition between Kant and Nietzsche, and his analysis (and indictment) of the death penalty. Groundbreaking and insightful, the book provides a rare philosophical treatment of subjects vital to the world we live in.
“This book offers nuanced readings from a range of texts important to the continental philosophical tradition. David Farrell Krell is an established and brilliant voice in the field, and the individual chapters reflect a lifetime of reflection, a history of successive interpretations, and a philosophical depth and humanity that are difficult to find today.” — Julia Ireland, cotranslator of Martin Heidegger’s Hölderlin’s Hymn “Remembrance”