The Return of Resentment: The Rise and Fall and Rise again of a Political Emotion
“Resentment” is everywhere. From Brexit to the Trump phenomenon, from populist nationalism to white supremacy, it serves as an “off-the-shelf” explanation for a whole range of disruptive movements both in the U.S. and abroad. But what does it mean to assert “resentment” as the emotional center of these movements? How far does this fundamentally condescending ascription get us towards truly understanding the motivations of people described as “resentful”? In The Return of Resentment: The Rise and Fall and Rise again of a Political Emotion, Robert Schneider surveys the long history of resentment (or ressentiment) as an explanation for the deep discontents and grievances expressed by those left behind by the march of time, a history that goes back at least to Nietzsche. But Schneider does more. By charting the use and misuse of this concept in the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, he offers some suggestions for how we might more precisely and carefully think about its deployment as an explanation for some of most troubling movements of our own day.
Robert Schneider is professor of History at Indiana University, and a specialist in early modern Europe, and especially France. Schneider has written several books, including most recently Dignified Retreat: Writers and Intellectuals in the Age of Richilieu (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), that uncover cultural aspects of state formation and political centralization. The Return of Resentment is a new avenue of research, destined for the University of Chicago Press.