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Strange Correspondences: Late Capitalism and Late Style in the Work of Wilson Harris and John Berger

Michael Niblett

Abstract


This article compares the late work of Guyanese author Wilson Harris with that of the English writer and critic John Berger. Taking Theodor Adorno’s reflections on late style as its point of departure, it situates the unconventional aesthetics of both writers in relation to the changes in society and experience unleashed by late capitalism. Focusing on Harris’s The Ghost of Memory (2006) and Berger’s From A to X (2008), the essay argues that the formal logic of these novels registers the pressures generated in the era of late capitalism by the unfolding dynamics of the neoliberal regime of accumulation and the fallout from the increasing financialization of the world-economy since the 1970s. Both texts work to protest the radical simplification of human and extra-human nature central to finance capital’s drive to transform all of reality into generic income streams. Sharing an emphasis on the need to revitalize the sensorium and to overcome the Cartesian separation of mind and body, society and nature, Harris and Berger maintain the possibility of an alternative mapping of global community.


Keywords


Wilson Harris; John Berger; late style; late capitalism; neoliberalism

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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