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Reviews121 philosophical concerns, Newton more correctly attributes die problem to Romola's historical design (p. 14). Eliot failed to portray fifteenth-century Florence with sufficient vividness and vigor, no doubt because her preoccupations were, as Newton demonstrates, so thoroughly post-Romantic. Romola is the novel most friendly to Newton's argument, and his reading of it is compelling. Tito is the "egotistic" Romantic, the nihilist; Savonarola is the believer in an outmoded religious metaphysics, the fanatic; whereas Romola is the "organistic" Romantic, struggling to wed Savonarola's humanity to Tito's accurate first premise: the world is without God. All the same, Eliot and Romola contend , human beings must forge a workable morality — an acknowledgment oftheir shared circumstances, shared traditions, and common plight. There are two disappointments in Newton's book. The first and most serious is the total omission of any discussion of Spinoza among philosophical influences on Eliot. Given, first, Eliot's arduous labor to complete unpublished translations of Spinoza's main works and, second, the significant impact of Spinoza on the Romantic movement, most especially upon Goedie (who was in turn die subject of a famous biography by G. H. Lewes, Eliot's husband), this omission is surprising indeed. The other disappointment is that Newton plays it too close to die vest in discussing other influences on Eliot. Though in many respects a conservative approach is warranted, it leads Newton to neglect forerunners such as the eighteenth-century philosophers of moral sentiment, most especially Hume and Hutcheson. These reservations aside, Newton's book will appeal both to philosophers and literary scholars. Eliot uses the novel in the way other philosophers use the essay: as a medium of expression integral to her thought; as a means ofdeveloping ideas rather than, as has too often been alleged, of putting them tediously into cold storage. This dimension of her art and thought should be more widely known, and Newton is both an able publicist and a reliable expositor. University of IdahoM. C. Henberg Metacriticism, by Suresh Raval; xiv & 289 pp. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1981, $18.00. The aim of this work is to furnish a metacritical analysis of the concept of criticism by examining "critical concepts and positions in their own terms" and by probing them "for internal weaknesses and difficulties" (p. xii). In this way die author hopes to furnish readers with a conceptual analysis of what is said (in the wake of W. B. Gallie) to be "an essentially contested concept." The work, we are told, will avoid "the intellectual skepticism " ofthose who write as iftheir own position is the only correct one (p. xii). It will also avoid the "weak-kneed pluralism" of those who construe their task in "less rigid terms," and who appeal to other disciplines in order to illuminate their endeavor. All of this is required because literary criticism is in crisis: a crisis which is said to defy methodological certitude (pp. 2-3). 122Philosophy and Literature The result is a detailed and comprehensive study of a considerable range of critical theories. Raval begins with an exposition and discussion of Kant's aesthetic dieory, and proceeds to discuss creativity theories, the New Criticism, theories of affective response, Phenomenological, Historicist, and Deconstructionist theories. All of this, based on a wealth of research, is often insightful, and there can be no doubt but that the attentive reader will benefit greatly from Raval's erudition. But the reader will need to be attentive. Raval's expositions are not always easy to follow — partly, I think, because he tends to borrow the sometimes opaque terminology of those that he seeks to expound. More problematic is the fact that he nowhere acknowledges the controversies which surround his various interpretations — especially of Kant, Gadamer, and Derrida. In a volume of this sort, greater effort should have been made to relate and compare the strands of scholarship which inform our understanding of these thinkers. In addition to its expository component, die book contains a wealth ofdieoretical argument on a variety of topics. At times die argument is sophisticated and sustained, but diere are disappointments. This is particularly true of Chapter Two, where the arguments are not well developed and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 121-122
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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