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

Shorter Reviews125 of metaphor is ultimately "the copula of the verb to be . . . which signifies both 'is not' and 'is like' " (p. 7). The Rule of Metaphor debouches into a consideration of the nature of truth and being, those twin gravamina of all philosophical speculation, and the ways in which a study of metaphor might illumine each. How well Ricoeur succeeds in all of this is, of course, open to discussion. But the extent to which I—or anyone else for that matter—might agree or disagree with him must be reserved for a lengthier and more leisurely format. I was especially intrigued by Ricoeur's efforts to demarcate the point of intersection between metaphorical and philosophical modes of discourse, for I have long been haunted by the thought that the world may be nothing more than our constructs of it. He helped me with this problem, although he did not satisfy me. But whatever reservations I might have detract not one whit from this magnificent study in the history of an idea. Ohio Wesleyan UniversityBernard Murchland The Critical Twilight: Explorations in the Ideology ofAngloAmerican Literary Theoryfrom Eliot to McLuhan, by John Fekete; xxviii & 300 pp. London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977, $15.00. Since the establishment of the so-called Ideologiekritik of the neo-Marxist schools, anything influential in cultural life must be prepared sooner or later to become the object of its criticism. Ideologiekritik attempts to lay open the ideological implications in specific theories, usually proving that the examined theory is "bourgeois" and "anti-revolutionary." Studies of this sort are very common in the areas of such disciplines as philosophy, sociology, history and the like. But they are quite new in application to literary theory, especially as far as the modern period is concerned. Now Fekete's book undertakes such a critique of the development of Anglo-American literary theory from Eliot and Ransom to Frye and McLuhan. It is the great weakness of the study that Fekete's perspective is established by an ideology itself. Fekete presents modern literary theory in America as "bourgeois critical theory" (p. xxi), characterized by the fact that within its history "traditional humanistic criticism has been fully integrated into that world which is the putative object of its criticism" (p. xxi). The general direction of its development goes "toward social stabilization and the elimination of the active ontological level of human subjectivity" (p. xviii). In a word, it is reactionary. With these ideas in his mind, Fekete lays open facts well-known to many serious literary theorists, for instance, the decidedly anti-socialist and individualistic economics of Southern Agrarianism in which Ransom believed. The Ransom chapter is symptomatic of both the strength and the weakness of the book. Fekete makes it obvious that it is not merely chance that connects 126Philosophy and Literature the New Criticism with an ideology of the reactionary Southern Agrarianism sort, but that there is an inner affinity between these perspectives. Fekete thinks of the literary theory of New Criticism in terms of economic theory, charging it with an ideology of "the consumption of the art work" and of "reification" (p. 103). The latter feature, together with growing rationalization, determines, in Fekete's view, the tendency of modern literary theory to become "the theoretical face of capitalist transformation" (p. xvi). I think that this view is too simple: Ransom's term "Dinglichkeit," which refers to the object's ontological autonomy, cannot be identified with the idea of "reification." These and similar conclusions in other chapters do not really follow from Fekete's analyses, many of which are at least in part quite interesting and convincing. They result from an interpretation of cultural life as an expression of economic reality in a genuinely Marxist point of view. As the validity of this interpretation is not conclusively demonstrated, neither are the conclusions drawn from the analyses. They are thus open to doubts not only of a sceptical but also of a rationalist kind. It is only the details of the analyses and not the general tendency of Fekete's conclusions that make the book interesting. Fekete is right in presenting his work not as a scholarly historical analysis but as a...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 125-126
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.