In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews413 material shows striking resemblances to features in die text, dien we insist die audior intended to use it in such a way as to give meaning to the text. Alas, die audior's intention is a fiction ofliterary study. NotJames but Beidler makes die paraUel between extratextual material and text intentional. Beidler moves from rhetorical suggestion to conclusive conviction: "we must also be impressed widi how much the fictional The Turn oftL· Screw owes to die motifs its author could have learned by reading this and odier ghost narratives" (p. 75). He begs the question, however, since simüarity is not demonstration. "The task I set for myself was to show how The Turn oftL· Screw, fiction though it is, derives from factual traditions about ghosts and demons. We cannot fuUy understand James's story widiout knowing some of the reported cases upon which he based it" (p. 239). This is a beautiful expression of the faUacy of source, for fiction, wherever it may take its sources, has it own creative powers which make the work of art understandable in its own terms. Beidler is also conscientiously engaged in committing the fallacy of the single determinant: namely, diat discovery ofone line ofsource material, ifsufficiently parallel, suffices as clue to the fictional work. But by looking into the tradition of ghostìy fiction, into die popular press, and into the psyches of HenryJames and famUy, we can come up with materials as suggestive as those from the psychical research movement. By looking for various kinds of sources for a literary work we find them. But having found different kinds of sources we prove nothing. Their very variety mUitates against decisive interpretation of die work in terms of derivation. James's own public account in the preface to the New York edition (1908) emphasizes the development of the literary art starting from the germ of the story to its full-blown power to frighten. Beidler's most valuablecontribution tocriticism is his readingofthecelebrated closing scene of die book. Yet his close textual examination leaves us with the dubious interpretation that the ghost Peter Quint is simultaneously within Miles and outside the window. Pennsylvania State UniversityRobert Ginsberg Delaware County Campus TL· American Evasion ofPhilosophy: A Genealogy ofPragmatism , by Cornel West; 279 pp. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989, $42.50 cloth, $18.50 paper. Cornel West has written an engaging study of American pragmatism that begins widi a reinterpretation of Emerson and concludes with a discussion of 414Philosophy and Literature such contemporary figures as Richard Rorty and Roberto Mangabeira Unger. In the process West works toward the definition of a "prophetic pragmatism" in the Ught of die chaUenges of skeptical postmodern cultural criticism. At stake in West's study is die possibUity of reinheriting the pragmatist tradition in order to enlarge the terms in which the debate about freedom, democracy , and self-transformation has been cast. West's Emerson is neither a fugitive from the genteel tradition nor the grand synthesizer of an American identity, but an "organic inteUectual," i.e., someone alert to the tenacious links between ideas and institutions, as between discourses and social structures, and convinced ofdie power ofopinion (doxa) over the supposedly value-free daims of knowledge (épùtème). More specificaUy, Emerson establishes the historical context of American pragmatism as one of crisis, insofar as he is preoccupied widi a waning religious tradition, with an emergent industrial order, and with a postcolonial and imperialist nation unsure ofthe future it would inherit. The crisis-conditions of American pragmatism became particularly evident at midcentury , as thinkers like Lionel Trilhng, Sidney Hook, and Reinhold Niebuhr attempted to establish and enlarge die basis for a tradition of native American thought, where the American intellectual heritage, Emerson notwidistanding, had been exceedingly genteel: "The legacy of American pragmatism for midcentury intellectuals was the project of promoting an Emersonian culture of creative democracy by means of critical intelligence and social action. . . . They neither were born and bred in die world of die northeastern highbrow culture and bourgeois society nor took for granted its privileges and opportunities" (p. 112). West's historical claims about the genealogy of American pragmatism are accompanied by the somewhat larger, speculative...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 413-415
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.