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134Philosophy and Literature representative works may well in fact be eccentric, it poses the question: Am I not myself, seeming eccentric, reedly a manifestation of true form? It is a playful, serious, rhetorical question . . ." (p. 13). He sees uiat die events in the novel ". . . have the same effect on the cheiracter within the novel as they do for die reader: they are a kind of epigrammatic metaphor for what theform of the novel is achieving" (p. 23). These activities might seem to be examples of the novel's groping. But Loveridge recognizes that this groping is only apparent; it is Sterne's way of remaining enigmatic. Just when we are comfortable widi seeing Dr. Slop, noses, and staircases from one viewpoint we are made to see that other viewpoints are as valid. This multiplicity of meaning is Sterne's design, the pattern of the novel with which we must finally come to live as we must come to live with it in our own lives. Surely such an ambiguous design is at the heart of literature and this critical study just as Sterne saw it at the heart ofhuman existence. But then, Tristram Shandy is a metaphysical work. Its apparent groping through time and timelessness, perception and confusion is an orchestration of a mind employing design to argue away traditional conceptions of fictioned design. Loveridge also draws conclusions about die complexities of Sterne's design dirough analysis of his complicated use of language. Whether Sterne is discussing ideas derived from Newton or Locke or die pervasive idea in Tristram Shandy of Hobby-Horses, we are reminded that he never works either linguistically or philosophically on a single level of meaning. For example, Locke's views aid in breaking down traditional patterns which would lead the audience to single meanings. Through the ambiguity oflanguage and idea Sterne creates the complexity so important to the breakdown of traditional fictional designs. In spite of this strength of view, however, the book fails to offer new insight. Though Loveridge emphasizes Sterne's enigmatic approach, most ideas seem merely stylized refutation ofwhat earlier writers have said or, more commonly, stylized response to their failure to carry out the implications of either Sterne's or tìieir own ideas. Each chapter employs a sort of formula whereby Loveridge takes to task these earlier critics —John Stedmond and B. H. Lehman, for example — or die greater philosophic minds — Locke, Shaftesbury, and Newton. But in its own careful way, Tristram Shandy has already done diis. Loveridge's criticism is disappointing since his formulaic approach weakens his own presentation. Surely he might recognize that we are looking less for absolute interpretations never rendered before than for a critical design through which we might see Sterne in a rewarding way. Whitman CollegeMichael McClintick The Narrative Act: Point of View in Prose Fiction, by Susan Sniader Lanser; ? & 308 pp. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982, $21.00. Lanser cites several moss-backed nineteenth-century critics to the effect that women novelists were right in favoring first person narrative, since "the female mind" was not Reviews135 "strong enough" to handle omniscient forms. George Eliot did in fact adopt a masculine nom de plume, and Dorothy Richeirdson confessed that she invented "stream of consciousness " narrative to find a "feminine voice" for fiction. Lanser^ proclamation of feminist conviction may suggest uiat she intends to excoriate diese critics and lament Richardson's cooptation. Her target, however, is her own "formalist" literary training which, by dogmatically treating narrative voice as an exclusively technical choice, sealed criticism off from the rough winds of sociology, and prevented it from probing important problems of this sort. What Lanser eventually delivers is trite but true: the nineteenthcentury world of which the serious novel was a part assumed that any audioritative voice was masculine, except where diis presumption could be defeated. But so deep does formalist dogma cut that even to say this much requires, on Lanser"s view, a new theory of "the narrative act." This she responsibly proceeds to build not by shattering the delicate and complex voices of the text against the categories of a reductionistic sociology, but by breaking out of formalism from within. Lanser recasts the semiotic communication...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 134-135
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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