Jeremy Rosen’s ambitious, timely, and politically sobering book is, perhaps inevitably, symptomatic of a couple of parallel and sometimes loosely intertwined developments reshaping post–Cold War criticism. They include the real or perceived obsolescence of postmodernism, the much-touted impasse—again, actual or putative—of the “critique project,” and the consequent wariness of sanguine political claims frequently made by writers and scholars alike. Worth listing here is also an increasingly liberal deployment of “genre” that runs the gamut from innovative to inflationary. All these vectors intersect originally and reinforce each other in the core argument of Rosen’s book, which essentially contends that ever since Jean Rhys’s 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea (which rewrites Jane Eyre) and Tom Stoppard’s 1966 play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (which revisits Hamlet), a new, multigeneric genre has come to the fore of world literature. True, Rosen’s examples are...

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