[The back page (subscriber-only) of the August 19, 2015, TLS ends with a piece of snark whose humor is cheap and obvious but which I can’t resist anyway:]
Incomprehensibility lives! Barbara Vinken writes in German, but Aarnoud Rommens and Susan L. Solomon have translated her book Flaubert Postsecular: Modernity crossed out into English. So they claim. They must know of a remote tribe hiding in an inaccessible university that still speaks this language:
The work of the text is to literalize the signifiers of the first encounter, dismantling the ideal as an idol. In this literalization, the idolatrous deception of the first moment becomes readable. The ideal will reveal itself to be an idol. Step by step, the ideal is pursued by a devouring doppelganger, tearing apart all transcendence. This de-idealization follows the path of reification, or, to invoke Augustine, the path of carnalization of the spiritual. Rhetorically, this is effected through literalization. A Sentimental Education does little more than elaborate the progressive literalization of the Annunciation.
Little more? Oh dear, it tells a story. Help us locate the last remaining speakers of this lesser used language. Flaubert Postsecular is published by Stanford University Press.