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Shorter Reviews359 of imagination and emotion in education: not unreasonably, Warnock seems to fear the onset of philistinism coming out of our technological age. A difficulty yet remains. Just being able to recognize that what is before me is a cat or a car doesn't seem to be doing anything very imaginative. We may encourage people to use their imaginations if we want to get them to see a cloud as a camel; hardly when we hope they will see an obvious cat as a cat. Moreover, to say that imagination is involved in our ability to represent is problematic. A word is, in its way, a representation all right. But imaginativeness shows itself in a distinctive way of using words or other devices. Mary Warnock surely knows this, and is still entitled to suggest that the most "ordinary" human abilities are really rather extraordinary when seen properly. But one hopes that she does not simply fuel the fires of those who talk so stupidly these days about how "creative" everybody is. University of California, Santa BarbaraLloyd Reinhardt Fable'sEnd: Completeness and Closure in Rhetorical Fiction, by David H. Richter; pp. ? & 214. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1974, $12.95. A "fable," for Professor Richter, is a rhetorical fiction whose organizing principles are "didactic" rather than "mimetic" (p. 201), but whose details do not correspond one-for-one to items in the "external world," as do those of an allegory (p. 16). The "closure" of a work is the way it ends, but its "completeness" is a less clear notion, being concerned with "what makes us feel" that it is over (p. 19), and the "sense of finality" it possesses (p. 23). In a work which imitates character or action, "closure" and "completeness" come together in a final resolution of the plot (p. 201), but this need not be so in the fable, which thus poses special problems in providing a sense of completeness. In exploring these, Richter first examines Rasselas and Candide, whose very different structures act as guides as he considers novels by Golding, Camus, Pynchon and Heller with an eye to the kinds of innovations—particularly "techniques for representing deep states of consciousness" (p. 60)—which have enriched the genre since Johnson's day. Lord of the Flies differs in technique from the earlier works, but still retains a relatively simple "received opinion" as its thesis, but elsewhere the new methods are exploited "to embody within a fiction a thoroughly novel moral and intellectual philosophy" of great complexity (p. 82). V, it is argued, fails in this task because it lacks completeness, but The Stranger and Catch-22 succeed. Richter closes by suggesting ways in which both his critical apparatus and his conclusions, concerning the relations between the "new kinds of theses" and "the new modes of achieving the sense of completeness which these necessitate" (p. 169), might be given wider application. 360Philosophy and Literature The sensitive ways in which Richter uses his apparatus to illuminate the works discussed suggest that it has considerable critical value; but if we are to take his concluding generalizations seriously, a number of fundamental issues need to be clarified, especially concerning the nature of the rhetorical persuasion which a fable attempts, a matter on which Richter seems confused. His official doctrine appears to be that a sharp distinction can be drawn between "philosophical proof" and "fictional" persuasion; in his first case study he tells us that "only the illusion of inductive argument is provided us; as a serious philosophical proof, Rasselas could hardly stand much scrutiny" (p. 58), and in the final chapter we are assured that, by means of modern narrative techniques, an audience "may be 'convinced' of the truth of propositions which, on a literal philosophical level, it would resist" (p. 182). Such a distinction he often reaffirms and presupposes elsewhere. Yet we find frequent suggestions that the connections between a fable's persuasive power and our appraisal of the truth of its thesis are much closer than such an account would allow. Our "sense of the completeness" of Candide partly turns on the knowledge we bring to the text (pp. 45 and 60), V fails because "emotional...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 359-360
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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