Stephen Mulhall, The Self and its Shadows: A book of Essays on Individuality as Negation in Philosophy and the Arts,
Stephen Mulhall presents a series of multiply interrelated essays which together make up an original study of selfhood (subjectivity or personal identity). He explores a variety of articulations (in philosophy, psychoanalysis, and the arts) of the idea that selfhood is best conceived as a matter of non-self-identity—for example, as becoming or self-overcoming, or as being what one is not and not being what one is, or as being doubled or divided. Philosophically, a sustained reading of the work of Nietzsche and Sartre is central to this project, although Wittgenstein is also fundamental to its concerns; Mulhall therefore draws extensively on texts usually associated with 'Continental' philosophical traditions, primarily in order to test the feasibility of a non-elitist form of moral perfectionism. Within the arts, several essays examine various films whose themes intersect with those of the philosophers under study (including Hollywood melodramas, recent spy movies such as the Bourne trilogy and the latest incarnation of James Bond, and David Fincher's 'Benjamin Button'); Wagner's Ring cycle is a recurrent concern; and the novels of Kingsley Amis, J. M. Coetzee and David Foster Wallace are also prominent.