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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 widi 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 die "immanent narrative dieory" ofdie Odyssey he argues that Hesiod means to contrast die poetic inventions of Homeric epic with his own unconditional announcement of trudi. This distinction generates an opposition "between elaborating 400Philosophy and Literature the text of the world 'Homerically' and doing so 'Hesiodically', that is, eidier poetically or (cum grano salis) philosophically" (p. 16). As die quarrel subsequendy escalates, die main subject ofcontention becomes whether literature should aim to instruct or delight its audience. Authors line up on one side or die odier: Solon, Xenophanes, and Aristophanes put utility ahead of pleasure. Gorgias reverses dieir order of priority. Plato brings die quarrel to a climax by rejecting poetry generally (and Homer in particular) because of its appeal to die emotional propensities of human beings. Aristotle sets out in die Poetics to rehabilitate poetry by means of his concepts of mimesL· and catharsis and by stressing die common ground between philosophy and poetry by comparison with philosophy and history. So a reconciliation of sorts is effected between die parties to the dispute. Aristode's intervention, Kannicht concludes, "did settle once and for all" the ancient quarrel (p. 34). Did it? Kannicht seems disinclined to trace the course of the debate beyond Aristode. There is, however, one important pointofcontactwith modern literary theory. Much of die interest of this book comes from Kannicht's attempt to apply the work of Hans RobertJauss to the study of Greek literary history. He daims that the modern emphasis on reception is, in fact, a rediscovery of an insight that always lay at the center of ancient discussions of literature. Most ofdiis book, though, consists ofa traditional commentary on thematically linked passages from familiar classic texts. Kannicht shows that from Hesiod on distinctions were perceived between Homeric and Hesiodic approaches to literature and between the potential of literature for didacticism and entertainment. He does not show satisfactorily that the various discerned "oppositions" are at root aspects ofa single opposition between philosophy and poetry nor that the "oppositions" were regarded as conflicting (i.e., a quarrel) rather than complementary. It can be argued, for instance, diat before Plato the quarrel, as Kannicht presents it, is an internal one within...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 399-401
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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