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398Philosophy and Literature connections too diverse and numerous to expose clearly for die reader. This can be especially frustrating when he pushes into the arcane diickets ofJudaic scholarly tradition. Bloom on Kafka becomes an obscuring critic on an uninterpretable writer. Professor Bloom is a brash, egotistical critic who ignites vivid fibrillations of thinking and feeling—a delightful hazard to read. Whitman CollegeWalter E. Broman ANewHistory ofFrenchLiterature, edited by Denis Hollier; xxv & 1150 pp. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989, $49.95. This is an often very enjoyable book the purpose and intended audience of which still elude me. Rather than following the format of traditional literary histories, in which one or several scholars set forth a unified narrative detailing the significant writers and works of a given national literature, Hollier has chosen to present about two hundred short pieces by almost as many different scholars that treat various moments in French literary history. Some of these essays attempt to offer a cogent overview ofa particular author's work (Richard L. Regosin's piece on Montaigne's Essays), others focus on a particular issue concerning several contemporary authors (Terence Cave's discussion of copia in Renaissance Uterature), still others concentrate on one particular aspect of a given literary work (Michel Jeanneret's essay on banquets in Rabelais). This collection definitely has several outstanding qualities in its favor. The essays, by distinguished scholars in their particular fields, are generally wellwritten and enjoyable. They avoid die unsound generalities and clichés too common in traditional hterary histories written by only one or two scholars who cannot possess the knowledge and expertise on all topics enjoyed by diis volume's almost two hundred contributors. In addition, diere is almost no attempt to squeeze individual works ofliterature into "great movements" (Classicism , Romanticism, die Baroque, etc.), widi the inevitable contortions diat must follow. On the odier hand, what purpose could die book serve? To whom is it addressed? Since it does not present a unified narrative, but rather isolated and unconnected short essays, one cannot, for example, turn to the section on Montaigne—diere isn'tone—tolearn the facts ofhis biography and publications. Reviews399 Although two short pieces deal widi die Essays, diere is no mention anywhere diat he also wrote a description of his trip to Italy. While diese pieces cover most ofdie major writers ofFrench literature, there is no mention in die section devoted to die sixteendi century, for example, of Ambroise Paré, Helisenne de Crenne, Henri Estienne, or several odier noteworthy authors. As a result, die collection cannot serve as any sort of reference work, or as a general comprehensive overview of French literary history. The traditional literary history, which Hollier is quick to dismiss in his introductory "On Writing Literary History," though it often had real flaws, nonedieless offered a comprehensive view of the literary production of a given era or nationality that introduced authors and tides to diose unfamiliar widi them and situated these names widi respect to each odier. It provided a background against which one could dien proceed to study particular works, armed with a knowledge of the significant names and dates. A New History of French Literature, because of its very nature, cannot offer this. At the end of his piece on sixteenth-century scientific poetry, Dudley B. Wilson remarks: "In becoming less motivated and more rational, die learned gaze tended to concentrate on fragmented phenomena, detached from any vision ofwholeness or harmony" (p. 222). His comment seems equally applicable to the segment of modern literary scholarship that conceived this tome. Kent State UniversityRichard M. Berrong TheAncient (QuarrelBetween Philosophy andPoetry:Aspects oftL· Greek Conception ofLiterature, by Richard Kannicht; 40 pp. Christchurch, New Zealand: University of Canterbury Publications, 1988, $11.00. The quarrel between philosophy and poetry was started, appropriately enough, by the Muses. Appearing to Hesiod on Helicon they declared, "We know how to speak much falsehood diat is similar to reality and we know, when we wish, how to utter the truth." Most commentators consider Hesiod to be using this story in the Tfoogony as a way of differentiating between alternative poetic possibilities. Richard Kannicht agrees. After a digression on the "immanent narrative dieory" ofdie Odyssey he argues that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 398-399
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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