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1 28Philosophy and Literature case pursued in Todorov's previous book on Boccaccio's Decameron. A third group attempts the worthy task of resuscitating the category of genre as a norm or convention underlying the production of literary meaning, a task sorely neglected by Romantic criticism. This includes a refreshing reconsideration of the rosy-fingered "perversities" by which Homer's Odyssey refuses to conform to the classical scholar's idea of primitive form; a fascinating piece on "The Typology of Detective Fiction," and another, "The Quest of Narrative," on The Quest for the Holy Grail (his most extended genre study is his book on The Fantastic). Todorov's range of examples is often dazzling. The fourth and final group are exercises in "readings" of particular authors such as those on Benjamin Constant—a particularly absorbing piece—and on HenryJames. In these essays Todorov is almost always insightful or provocative in what he has to say, and often both. The only specific readerly reservations I would register apply to the extensive paper on James ("The Secret of Narrative") whose theoretical point is slim compared with the corpulent text that surrounds it, and to the essay on Velemir Khletnikov which, despite its fine prologue, is only a calm summary of mad ideas. Four more general and serious critical questions have yet to be faced by Todorov and the structuralists: Can a grammatical interpretation of literature, however enriched, alone suffice? Can the category of vraisemblance and the concept of truth (as coherence only) suffice to illumine the truth of and about literature? Can poetic theory and poetic reading/interpreting be so sharply separated? And the flat recitation of Jakobson's view (p. 136) prompts my last question—only seemingly irrelevant to a book on prose—why has structuralism been so strikingly unsuccessful and inattentive to poetry as distinct from narrative? Vassar CollegeMichael Murray Glyph: Johns Hopkins Textual Studies, edited by Samuel Weber and Henry Sussman; pp. iv & 210. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977, $12.00 hardbound, $3.45 paper. Glyph is a semi-annual venture with an unusual credo: to provide a forum to elaborate "the problematic assumptions underlying disciplinary divisions." The Johns Hopkins group plans to publish the work of scholars who challenge those divisions within the framework of "textuality and coniextuality," and to position itself at the juncture of Continental and Anglo-American ideologies. As if to fulfill its promise, Glyph's first issue contains essays by six Anglo-American (Paul de Man, Walter Benn Michaels,John Searle, James Siegel, Henry Sussman, and Samuel Weber, who is also the founder of Glyph) and three Continental Shorter Reviews129 (Jacques Derrida, Rodolphe Gasché and Louis Marin) critics and philosophers. The most challenging feature of this first issue, by far, is the debate between Derrida and Searle over Austin's illocutionary acts. Predictably, Derrida continues his attack on the concept of presence by claiming that the differential features of language are "valid not only for all order of 'signs' and for all languages in general but moreover, beyond semio-linguistic communication, for the entire field of what philosophy would call experience ... of being" (p. 181). He argues that the essential features in the classical conception of writing (that writing remains after its original inscription, that it can be severed from its context of production, and that it has a spatial characteristic constituted by the written sign) are to be found in all languages, written and spoken, because of the iterability of linguistic elements. According to Derrida, any expression can be severed from its meaning through a particular form of iterability exemplified by quotation. It is at this point that Derrida castigates Austin for his refusal to consider citationality as an intrinsic part of "ordinary" language. He claims that by excluding citationality Austin forfeits the opportunity to view performative speech acts outside the horizon of semio-linguistic communication and, therefore, outside the principle of intentionality which lies at the heart of it. Searle's attacks on Derrida center mostly on the ambiguity of Derrida's conceptions of permanence and iterability. These, according to Searle, are quite independent of the classical features of writing which form the basis of Derrida's argument. Derrida's difficult style...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 128-130
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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