Albert Cook observes that a number of richly derived approaches, sometimes combined with each other and sometimes with much else, have come to inform the diverse theoretical discourses invigorating literary criticism today.
Specifically, the self-questioning of Sartrean idealism continues in the mode of Jacques Derrida as it encourages the theorist to account for the fault lines and contradictions in the work he addresses. Further, a history transformed by the Annales historians but also by the "thick description" of Clifford Geertz continues with and beyond the mode of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze to set a standard of adequacy for establishing cultural interconnections. Finally, a transformed psychoanalysis in the mode of Jacques Lacan extends and deepens
much literary discussion by enforcing attention to the armatures of depth implication in texts.
This collection of Albert Cook's essays reflects some of these developments. His brief and partial retrospect is offered as more appropriate than the methodological considerations he might
have presented to cover such a variety of practice. Most of the essays were written over the past three years, while the others range through much of his career. Cook has assembled them with the conviction that they will be regarded as all belonging together, although with the looseness inevitable to essays separately written, as separate acts of sounding.