Taking issue with recent interventions on critical reading that appear caught between demolishing and reestablishing topographical modes of literary analysis, this article reexamines the approach of “symptomatic reading” as developed in Louis Althusser's reading of Karl Marx. Following Althusser, it offers a model for reading “generously” that is specific to a world in which the dominant forms of literary and cultural engagement have emerged alongside the novel as a form. The article revisits Walter Benjamin's “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” as well as Alain Badiou's proposition of a “subtractive” reading, Paul Ricoeur's method of “recollection,” and Gilles Deleuze's notion of the “image of thought” to argue that under current historical conditions the most pressing injunction is not to read “against the grain” but to read with it and that, furthermore, in so doing we remain faithful to the spirit of Benjamin's injunction to “brush history against the grain.”
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