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

438Philosophy and Literature collection, rather than a unified whole. Austin is obviously most skUlful in explicating Greek literature, and it is here that the reader will find the richest insights and Uluminations. University of California, RiversideChristopher Wise TheMetaphysicalQuality ofthe Tragic:A Study ofSophocles, Giraudoux and Sartre, by Brenda J. Powell; 205 pp. New York: Peter Lang, 1990, $40.50. Critics and teachers alike will welcome this text. Its author provides provocative insight into the unique characteristics of literary works that inspire us. She outlines and applies "a complete configuration" of critical thought to the dialectics between text and reader, play and spectator. How these two factors interact in such a way that a metaphysical quality such as the tragic exhibits itself for an aesthetic intuition is the focus of her study. It is essentially from Roman Ingarden that Powell derives her criteria for an examination of the literary text: a literary work ofart's main attributes are that it is purely intentional, stratified, and schematic. She delineates four specific areas of the schematic classification: the types of linguistic sound formations in the text, units of meaning, schematized aspects of the work, and the presentation of objects in space and time. She further defines within these four areas a complex set of elements required to effect a grounding of the metaphysical quality of the tragic: (1) artistically effective qualities in each layer of die work; (2) artistically effective qualities which found aestheticaUy valuable moments; (3) carriers of moral qualities of the presented world who appear phenomenally; (4) artistically founded aesthetic values that harmonize with the moral values founded in the presented moral qualities; and (5) a harmonization factor that must occur in such a way that the appearance of the metaphysical quality becomes a center ofcrystallization ofartistic, aesthetic, and moral values. EquaUy important is Powell's definition of the vital role of the reader. The reader must be able to apprehend moral values and discern between two high positive values (which may not necessarily be his own) in the case of the concretized literary work. In addition, the reader must be able to recognize the harmonious polyphony of the aesthetic qualities of the work through his own intuition ofaesthetic values and exercise an investigative cognition ofthe work, consisting first of a recognition of its artisticaUy effective qualities and dien a reflective cognition which may lead to a critical evaluation. If the presented Reviews439 objects have been accurately cognized and faidifully concretized, the harmony ofdie particularattributeswUl provide the basis foran intuition ofa metaphysical quality such as the tragic. PoweUtestsher dieory againstdireevariantsofthe Electramyth. InSophodes' Electra die focus is on the suffering of its title character—suffering that is selfinduced and self-perpetuating, yetwhich is die configuration ofthe single moral value that both elevates and destroys the heroine: just revenge. Giraudoux's Electre presents another sort of moral conflict between Egisdie's enlightened resolve to become a noble ruler and Electra's unflinching adherence to die value ofthe trutii ofhis unworthiness as she plots and inspires his assassination. Sartre's Les Mouches, however, does not meet Powell's criteria for the tragic. Here, the emphasis shifts from Electra to Orestes, whose value conflict opposes his heroic (but not tragic) stance of asserting absolute freedom against the considerably lower value of enslavement to the gods exemplified by the principles of guilt and repentance. Stimulating though Powell's theory is, I was disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm in her presentation. I found myselfsearching for a glimmer ofher own excitement and conviction. Equally disturbing is the author's reticence with respect to the visual aspects of theater. The mue en scène, costumes, and stage directions could contribute to the experience Powell describes. WhUe the spectator is mentioned in her study, it is the reader who receives her full attention and this, I believe, detracts from the basic fact that theater is a visual art form. Still, I value the author's findings and am certain that those who read TL· Metaphysical Quality oftL· Tragic will discover, as I did, fresh insights into literary criticism. Whitman CollegeJerry Curtis Augustine's PrayerfulAscent: An Essay on tL· Literary Form oftL· Confessions, by Robert McMahon; xxii & 175 pp. Athens: University...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 438-439
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.