In many ways, Foregone Conclusions is a collaborative venture both in the shaping of its ideas as they now appear and in their gradual unfolding over the time of their composition. Such phrases, as we all know, are the commonplaces of acknowledgments, rhetorical flourishes meaningful only in the carefully limited context in which they are expressed. Here, however, the words designate an indebtedness and recognition of support that extends beyond the common courtesy of the genre. The traditions with which this book deals are the ones out of which I myself have come; the debates that are taken up in these pages are those I have overheard since childhood, and the arguments in which my text now seeks to intervene are, in the deepest sense, family quarrels. In Per Amica Silentia Lunae, Yeats says that "we make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." This is not a volume of poetry, and it hopes to persuade by the logic and discursive reasoning specific to critical prose. Yet it is far from being merely "a quarrel with others." On the contrary, it is a debate with those "others" whose voices I can hear within my own auditory consciousness, who are, in their very differences and polemical opposition, nonetheless part of myself as well.
But this book is also collaborative in a more traditional sense. Several years ago, on our way back from a conference, Gary Saul Morson started to tell me about a new concept for which he had coined the term sideshadowing . As he went on to explain what he meant by the word, I interjected that not only did I share his sense that such a term could illuminate a complex range of theoretical problems, but I, too, had been working on a similar configuration of issues. To extend Morson's idea of sideshadowing, I coined the complementary term backshadowing, and we began to outline a two-part book for which each of us would write a separate section based on our particular concerns. We each composed our sections independently, but they benefited from our frequent conversations and reading of each other's drafts. In the event, our sections became both too long and too disparate in their focuses to make the original idea of a single book feasible. Morson's part, entitled Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time, is scheduled to appear in print from Yale University Press virtually simultaneously with the publication of Foregone Conclusions . And rather than refer in my endnotes to Morson's study each time a reader might usefully compare our treatment of analogous questions, it is more helpful simply to say that our two books continue, under separate covers, a dialogue that began within a single frame.
My sense of a collaborative enterprise is further sustained by an awareness that, from the outset, this project has benefited from the generous encouragement and steadying advice of a number of friends, colleagues, and students. I am well aware that my argument's claims to contribute to so many seemingly diverse fields will appear as at once contentious and over-reaching. I have tried to think my way through a knot of interlocked questions, in a way that must seem against the grain of much of what we regularly hear and read. But my thinking derives no small measure of its enabling curiosity from the intense involvement of others who have assisted me, and it stands ready, at every turn, to welcome whatever new rectification or guidance other voices can bring. In the meantime, I am very grateful for the chance to express my continuing appreciation for all that my first readers have already given me. To Alex Zwerdling, Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, the late Leo Lowenthal, Lawrence Rainey, and M. E. Brugger, my sincere appreciation for having helped make this book better than it could ever have been without their counsel. I am also glad to acknowledge how much I learned from the energetic discussions with the students in my spring 1993 graduate seminar at Berkeley. Doris Kretschmer and Douglas Abrams Arava of the University of California Press were enthusiastic and helpful from the outset and have my gratitude for their personal commitment to my work. I also want to thank my copy- and project editor, Betsey Scheiner, as well as my designer, Barbara Jellow, for their helpfulness and expertise. My dedicating this book to Robert Alter is an index of how our dialogues have always quickened my sense of the very possibility of this project, and a reminder of the continuing pleasures of a friendship, conducted both
on and off the tennis court. My wife, Jeanne Wolff Bernstein, and our daughter, Anna-Nora, are the larger context in which all my dialogues take place and find their rightful proportion.
I want to thank the Guggenheim Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the director and staff of Mishkenot Sha'ananim in Jerusalem, the U.C. Berkeley President's Fellowship in the Humanities, and the Departments of English and Comparative Literature at U.C. Berkeley, for granting me the time and the funds to work on this study.
In very different versions, sections of this book appeared in the following journals: Raritan, TriQuarterly, and Modernism/Modernity . I am grateful to all the editors involved, both for their valuable suggestions and for permission to reprint portions of these essays here.
For his generous authorization to use the photograph Almstadt-strabe 43: Diaprojektion eines ehemaligen hebrÃ¤ischen Buchladens on the cover of the book, I would like to thank the artist, Shimon Attie.