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424Philosophy and Literature in the imagined world created by the film. In die second imaginary die film watcher represents his experience in symbolic discourse—he in effect theorizes the film. A final artide that perhaps ought to be noted is Girard's "Theory and Its Terrors." This piece is not really a contribution to theory as such, but it offers an acute diagnosis of die maladies of modern literary theory, especially deconstruction . Girard offers an explanation ofthe proliferation and bewildering rapidity of transformations in doctrine in modern literary theory, as weU as its nihilistic character, in terms of institutional pressure to publish coupled with an insecurity at the heart ofthe discipline ofliterary studies as to what its proper and particular concerns ought to be. Rhodes UniversitySeumas Miller UncontainableRomanticism:SL·!^, Brontë, Kleist, by Carol Jacobs; xv & 233 pp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989, $29.95. It is with a gracious nod toward Paul de Man's theory of figurai language that the author of these eight studies establishes her own critical performance. Under the aegis of his sense of irony and informed by his "rhetoric of temporality ," Romanticism here suggests diverse possibUities of self-reflective liberation from definitive meanings. It identifies various processes of unbinding that free the artistic construct of condusive opinions, and it aUows "an uncontroUable moving beyond aU those parameters seemingly fixed widiin the texts" (p. ix). The critical discourse itself does not supplant, for example, die "naive fabrications" of a less than perspicacious narrator (e.g., Lockwood in Wuthering Heights) widi the categorical daims ofdiscursive trutii; on die contrary, criticism "is of necessity already accounted for as yet anodier fiction that the novel continues to fabricate" (p. 81). In other words, forces of control are at issue here, control as exerted in die modes of representation, control through acceptance of authority, and control in die form of professorial criticism. The introductory piece, "On Looking at SheUey's Medusa," demonstrates Jacobs's stance with exemplary lucidity, tracing a poetic transformation that has made ofLeonardo's painting at die Uffizi an image of"the artist-poet from whose mouth the reflective work of art arises, the object depicted by diat work ofart, and [its] beholder," a figure gazing on "an image ofherselfas die beholder of herself as die origin of an image diat reflects herself as die beholder" (pp. Reviews425 14-15)—intricate, endless involutions of poetic creativity that "refuse to expose meaning" in favor of imagining "intervals of noncoincidence" widi diat which poetry reflects (p. 18). The more expansive essay on Prometheus Unbound reads diis Goethean play on the theme of revolution as a subdy orchestrated chorus of metaphors "for the impossibUity of metaphor" (p. 40), where "nothing can remain itself or maintain its self-identity" because "every element enters into play only in relation to its other" (p. 48)—poetry, the unbinding of words, as die imaginative "performance of perpetual ifunpredictable revolution" (p. 57). Incontrast, die pattern ofnaming and ofinheritance in Bronte's novel generates complex repetitions ofdisplacement and differentiation, the fictional fabrication ofan "endless struggle between polarities" (p. 79), real and of the imagination, for which there is no ultimate reconciliation. The remaining larger portion of diis book (pp. 85—200) is given to Kleist, especially to his evocations of die world as enigmatic dictum, of experience as utter confusion through "the word as riddle rather than explanation" (p. 96) or dependable guide. PenthesUea's language, an idiom that "disintegrates the order of metaphor and literality" (p. 106) as excruciatingly as the body of AchUles has been disfigured, in die end becomes the substance from which she fashions the dagger to end her life. In Prince Friedrich von Homburg die "delicate joke" is his condemnation to life "at the point where he had transvaluated the meanings of life and death" and "placed all ontological worth and all sense of reality in die life beyond" (p. 135). For Kohlhaas it is "satisfaction through negation of meaning, the celebration of a text precisely insofar as it denies the presence of its own authority" (p. 149), that allows him both to undo and to affirm the law's power. And in "The Duel" where this power seems to be...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 424-425
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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