Derek Allan Australian National University
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Affiliations
  • Research staff, Australian National University
  • PhD, Australian National University, 2007.

Areas of specialization
  • None specified

Areas of interest

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About me
My main interest is the philosophy (or general theory) of art (visual art, literature and music). I am neither "analytic" nor "continental" in approach because I believe both schools have serious deficiencies where the theory of art is concerned. One of my special interests is the neglected but crucial question of the relationship between art and the passing of time. I have discussed this topic in various articles and conference papers (some available on my website) and in my two books: "Art and the Human Adventure: André Malraux's Theory of Art" (2009) and "Art and Time" (2013). My "areas of specialization" heading on this page lists "aesthetics" but it should read "philosophy of art" in my case. Aesthetics, in my view, has become an amorphous and directionless field of study lacking any identifiable core or purpose. The philosophy of art, on the other hand, presents us with a range of specific, important - and very often neglected - questions.
My works
24 items found.
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  1.  9
    Derek Allan (2016). The Death of Beauty: Goya's Etchings and Black Paintings Through the Eyes of André Malraux. History of European Ideas.
    Modern critics often regard Goya's etchings and black paintings as satirical observations on the social and political conditions of the time. In a study of Goya first published in 1950, which seldom receives the attention it merits, the French author and art theorist André Malraux contends that these works have a significance of a much deeper kind. The etchings and black paintings, Malraux argues, represent a fundamental challenge to the European artistic tradition that began with the Renaissance, an essentially humanist (...)
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  2.  5
    Derek Allan (2016). The Power of an Idea: Raskolnikov in 'Crime and Punishment'. Literary Imagination (2016).
    Rodion Raskolnikov, the central figure in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, is one of the best-known characters in the world of the novel but one who continues to pose major interpretive problems. Why exactly does he murder the old pawnbroker and her sister? Why, throughout the novel, does he continue to believe that he has committed no crime? And why, despite this belief, does he suffer a form of psychological breakdown and eventually give himself up to the police? This article, which (...)
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  3. Derek Allan (2016). Vanquishing Temporal Distance: Malraux, Art and Metamorphosis. Australian Journal of French Studies 53 (1-2):136-148.
    How does art – literature, visual art, or music – endure over time? What special power does it possess that enables it to “transcend” time – to overcome temporal distance and speak to us not just as evidence of times gone by, but as a living presence? The Renaissance, which discovered this transcendent power of art in the classical sculpture and literature it admired so strongly, concluded that great art is impervious to time – “timeless”, “immortal”, “eternal” – a belief (...)
     
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  4. Derek Allan (2014). A Logical Redeemer: Kirillov in Dostoevsky’s 'Demons'. Journal of European Studies 44 (2).
    The engineer Kirillov, a major character in Dostoevsky's 'Demons', has provoked considerable critical disagreement. In 'The Myth of Sisyphus', Albert Camus argues that he expresses the theme of ‘logical suicide’ with ‘the most admirable range and depth’. Some recent commentators, however, have dismissed Kirillov as a madman in the grip of a mad theory. -/- While dissenting from Camus’s analysis in certain respects, this article offers an interpretation consistent with his basic argument. Kirillov’s suicide is based on a simple, if (...)
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  5.  16
    Derek Allan (2014). André Malraux. In Michael Kelly (ed.), Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. 2nd edition (Oxford University Press). 239-243 (Vol 4).
    An overview of Malraux's theory of art, with sub-headings: "Basic Principles","The Creative Process","The Emergence of 'Art'","Art and Time", "The Modern Universal World of Art", and "Critical Responses". Includes a brief discussion of the musée imaginaire.
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  6.  23
    Derek Allan (2013). Art and Time. Cambridge Scholars.
    A well-known feature of great works of art is their power to “live on” long after the moment of their creation – to remain vital and alive long after the culture in which they were born has passed into history. This power to transcend time is common to works as various as the plays of Shakespeare, the Victory of Samothrace, and many works from early cultures such as Egypt and Buddhist India which we often encounter today in major art museums. (...)
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  7.  26
    Derek Allan (2012). 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' Through the Eyes of André Malraux. Journal of European Studies 42 (2):123-139.
    Choderlos de Laclos’s novel 'Les Liaisons dangereuses', first published in 1782, is regarded as one of the outstanding works of French literature. This article concerns a well known commentary by the twentieth-century writer André Malraux which, though often mentioned by critics, has seldom been studied in detail. The article argues that, while Malraux endorses the favourable modern assessments of 'Les Liaisons dangereuses', his analysis diverges in important respects from prevailing critical opinion. In particular, he regards the work as the commencement (...)
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  8.  35
    Derek Allan (2010). Art: A Rival World - An Aspect of André Malraux's Theory of Art. In Jan Lloyd Jones & Julian Lamb (eds.), Art and Authenticity. Australian Scholarly Publishing
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  9. Derek Allan (2010). The Creative Process: An Aspect of André Malraux’s Theory of Art. Revue/Malraux/Review 37:66-84.
    Examines Malraux's account of the creative process in art, discusses a misreading of Malraux by Merleau-Ponty, and highlights shortcomings in certain "analytic aesthetics" accounts of the creative process.
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  10. Derek Allan (2009). Art and the Human Adventure: André Malraux's Theory of Art. Rodopi.
    " Suitable for both newcomers to Malraux and more advanced students, the study also examines critical responses to these works by figures such as Maurice ...
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  11.  70
    Derek Allan (2009). An Intellectual Revolution: André Malraux and the Temporal Nature of Art. Journal of European Studies 39 (2):198-224.
    Very little has been written in recent decades about the temporal nature of art. The two principal explanations provided by our Western cultural tradition are that art is timeless (`eternal') or that it belongs within the world of historical change. Neither account offers a plausible explanation of the world of art as we know it today, which contains large numbers of works which are self-evidently not timeless because they have been resurrected after long periods of oblivion with significances quite different (...)
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  12.  39
    Derek Allan (2009). 'Reckless Inaccuracies Abounding': André Malraux and the Birth of a Myth. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67 (2):147-158..
    After an initial period of popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, André Malraux’s works on the theory of art, "The Voices of Silence" and "The Metamorphosis of the Gods", lapsed into relative obscurity. A major factor in this fall from grace was the frosty reception given to these works by a number of leading art historians, including E.H. Gombrich, who accused Malraux of an irresponsible approach to art history and of "reckless inaccuracies". This essay examines a representative sample of the (...)
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  13.  49
    Derek Allan (2007). Art, Time and Metamorphosis. In Jan Lloyd Jones (ed.), Art and Time. Australian Scholarly Publishing 1.
  14. Derek Allan (2005). Andre Malraux and the Modern, Transcultural Concept of Art. Literature & Aesthetics 15 (1):79-98.
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  15. Derek Allan (2003). Art as Anti-Destiny: Foundations of André Malraux’s Theory of Art. Literature and Aesthetics 13 (2):7-16.
     
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  16.  77
    Derek Allan (2003). André Malraux and the Challenge to Aesthetics. Journal of European Studies 33 (128): 23-40.
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  17. Derek Allan (2001). Literature and Reality. Journal of European Studies 31 (122):143-156.
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  18. Derek Allan (1995). An Inhuman Transcendence: Perken in Malraux's 'La Voie Royale’. Journal of European Studies 25:109-121.
    Examines an aspect of Malraux's exploration of action as a value.
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  19. Derek Allan (1990). Finding the Battle: History and the Individual in 'Les Conquérants' and 'La Condition Humaine’. Australian Journal of French Studies (2):173-181.
    Discusses the gulf between the individual and collective experience, and the way the gulf is bridged in two of Malraux's novels.
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  20. Derek Allan (1988). André Malraux: The Commitment to Action in 'La Condition Humaine'. In Harold Bloom (ed.), André Malraux's Man's Fate. Chelsea House
    Discusses the function of action in Malraux's third and most famous novel.
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  21. Derek Allan (1982). The Psychology of a Terrorist: Tchen in 'La Condition Humaine'. Nottingham French Studies 21 (1):48-66.
    Discusses the psychology of the terrorist Tchen in Malraux's 'Man's Fate'.
     
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  22.  47
    Derek Allan, Analytic Aesthetics and the Dilemma of Timelessness.
    The paper highlights analytic aesthetics’ unacknowledged assumption that art is timeless, a view it inherited from Enlightenment thinkers such as Hume and Kant, who in turn inherited it from the Renaissance. This view, I contend, is no longer tenable because it is at obvious variance with our experience of the art of the past. Analytic aesthetics avoids examining this key problem because it confines its attention to issues such as the nature of aesthetic pleasure, whether the appreciation of art should (...)
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  23. Derek Allan, Goya and the Dark Side of the Enlightenment.
    Conventionally lauded as the luminous Age of Reason in which the fogs of religious superstition lifted to reveal a new world of tolerance and human dignity, the Enlightenment also possessed what one might term its “dark side”. A small number of writers and visual artists – such as Sade, Choderlos de Laclos (author of Les Liaisons dangereuses) and Francisco Goya – recognised that the newfound paths of Reason and empiricism could lead in unexpected directions and reveal aspects of human experience (...)
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  24.  20
    Derek Allan, Literature and the Passing of Time: Reflecting on the Temporal Nature of Art.
    The paper explores the much-neglected but crucial topic of the capacity of art to transcend time.
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