Synopses & Reviews
With six enormously influential and widely discussed books to his credit, Stanley Fish is perhaps the most quoted, most controversial, most in-demand, and most feared English teacher in the world, and one of the very best essayists in any field. . . . Beginning as, and remaining, a specialist in the literature of the English Renaissance up to Milton, Fish has transformed himself into a highly influential, widely discussed professor of law as well. And as his latest collection of essays, Doing What Comes Naturally, demonstrates, his interests are global, and include not only literature and law, but linguistics, psychoanalysis, philosophy, professionalism, and theoretically, any intellectual discourse whatsoever. . . . A] masterful book.--Geoffrey Galt Harpham, Times Literary Supplement
Of literary critics whose work comes to mind under the heading 'theory, ' Stanley Fish . . . has been preeminent as the orchestrator of a number of approaches to interpretation, chief among them reader-response criticism and deconstruction. . . . While no less rigorous than his earlier studies of Renaissance literature, Doing What Comes Naturally is a handy textbook for those who wish to catch up on the variety of questions to which literary criticism can usefully address itself today and to see a deconstructive method in action in various intellectual contexts, particularly in examining questions of literature and law.--Peter Meisel, New York Times Book Review
"Nothing that Stanley Fish writes can be ignored. In this latest work, he explodes all our comforting notions of unbiased, uninflected judgment in the pursuit of interpretation."—Annette Kolodny
"All of Stanley Fish's writing is distinguished by importance of topic, vividness in presentation, and accessibility to the general reader. This welcome collection of his recent essays has all these attributes. There is no better introduction to a host of important contemporary controversies concerning interpretation in both literature and law. Even those most in disagreement with some of his particular arguments will welcome the brio with which they are expressed."—Sanford Levinson
"Stanley Fish is one of our most interesting, and most philosophically sophisticated, literary theorists. He is at the top of his form in these essays."—Richard Rorty
In literary theory, the philosophy of law, and the sociology of knowledge, no issue has been more central to current debate than the status of our interpretations. Do they rest on a ground of rationality or are they subjective impositions of a merely personal point of view? In Doing What Comes Naturally, Stanley Fish refuses the dilemma posed by this question and argues that while we can never separate our judgments from the contexts in which they are made, those judgments are nevertheless authoritative and even, in the only way that matters, objective. He thus rejects both the demand for an ahistorical foundation, and the conclusion that in the absence of such a foundation we reside in an indeterminate world. In a succession of provocative and wide-ranging chapters, Fish explores the implications of his position for our understanding of legal, literary, and psychoanalytic interpretation, the nature of professional and institutional culture, and the place of reason in a world that is rhetorical through and through.