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  • Le Dialogue à la Renaissance: histoire et poétique
  • Pollie Bromilow
Le Dialogue à la Renaissance: histoire et poétique. By Eva Kushner . Geneva, Droz, 2004. 312 pp.

Grouping together nineteen short pieces previously published elsewhere, this volume presents a panorama of the role of the dialogue in Renaissance Europe, whilst also charting the progress of Eva Kushner's investigations into this area over the course of thirty years. In spite of the time which has elapsed since some of these studies first appeared, this collection of articles is in no way outdated. Kushner's introduction carefully situates it in the context of the numerous studies of the dialogue which have been published in recent years (Cox, Godard, Winn) thus allowing the volume to engage fully with current critical debates. Indeed, Kushner exploits the opportunity presented by this lapse of time by reflecting in the later studies on her own methodologies, creating an albeit fleeting état présent of Renaissance studies which adds to the volume's interest. A number of rich and fruitful lines of enquiry are explored in these articles, which are useful and stimulating for students and specialists alike. From these pages emerges a portrait of the Renaissance as an unparalleled age of the dialogue in the post-classical era. Kushner demonstrates how both dialogue and dialectic underpin a wide spectrum of texts: whether religious or secular, fiction or non-fiction, in verse or in prose. The volume illuminates the work of many figures commonly associated with the Renaissance dialogue (Erasmus, Le Caron, Pontus de Tyard, Tahureau), several of whom have entire chapters devoted to their works. Kushner's analysis, however, extends well beyond this clearly defined corpus to encompass the role of dialectic in the works of major authors (Marguerite de Navarre, Montaigne, Ronsard) as well as minor ones. The grouping of the studies under broad headings in the table of contents does not do justice to the variety and richness of Kushner's approaches. Above all, dialogue and dialectic are seen to be central to many contemporary and universal literary themes and devices: the intrinsic vs the [End Page 266] extrinsic; mimesis/verisimilitude; the didactic purpose; the fragmentation of truth; hermeneutics; subjectivity; the role of chronology in a developing genre. It is because of the diversity of situations in which dialogue and dialectic occur in Renaissance culture that this collection avoids any sense of incoherence. On the contrary, the impossibility of providing an exhaustive account of the form makes this volume an especially thought-provoking and absorbing study. Although nearly all specialists will regard at least some of these chapters as 'old friends', their publication as a collection is a worthy project from which much pleasure and utility will be derived.

Pollie Bromilow
University of Liverpool


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