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140Philosophy and Literature pie, Culler shows diat genetic semiology seeks to gain insight into the meaning of poetry by considering how poets write whde descriptive semiology is concerned with die way a poem gets interpreted by critics as well as what conventions make possible disagreements among critics about the meaning of a poem. In "A Problem of Audience" Andrew A. Tadie and James P. Mesa demonstrate descriptive semiotics. Their problem is: What made it possible for a contemporary of Davenant to understand the Deistic theme ofthe Seige ofRhodes? The auuiors discover that die clue to die meaning is found in Davenant's divergence from his favored Terencian Five-Act Structure of English drama. By introducing a disruptive element into an accepted dieatrical format, Davenant signaled to die astute among die audience diat diere was a deeper structure of meaning in the play. Leon Satterfield provides an example of genetic semiotics in "Toward a Poetics of Ironic Sign." In order that irony may be understood when it occurs, Satterfield shows how die kind of irony that implies an ironist is created. On the one hand, he describes the types of irony (rhetorical and situational) he is concerned with and oudines the clues given by die author diat make the recognition ofirony possible. On the odier hand, Satterfield provides some insights into what die auuior betrays about himself when he writes in an ironic mode. The essay successfully demonstrates why irony is easily missed or misunderstood by the reader. Finally, a critical note: Tzvetan Todorov outlines Bakhtin's resistance to the language of technology for discussing communication, which uses such terms as "encoding/ decoding," "addresser/addressee," and "context/message." Instead, Bakhtin prefers the more fluid connotations of "speaker," "auditor," "utterance," and "intertext," which imply the social nature of communication. Todorov's point hits a nerve in Western semiotics, philosophy of language, literary criticism, and diis collection. Indeed, most of die essays in this volume assume a model of communication derived from the technology ofelectronic communication, where a sender codes a message and telegraphs it to a receiver who decodes it. According to Todorov, Bakhtin opposes diis view and proposes that communication is an intimate relationship, a communion of persons Üiat cannot be explained or described in a way analogous to electronic communication. The difference between Bakhtin and his Western contemporaries is diat of an organic or social model of communication versus a technological or analytic one. Florida State UniversityParrish W. Jones Pursuits ofHappiness: The Hollywood Comedy ofRemarriage, by Stanley Cavell; 283 pp. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981, $17.50. Why might a phdosopher who has been interested in such diings as skepticism, private languages, Thoreau, the third Critique, and King Lear now write a book consisting of Reviews141 readings of seven comedies made in Hollywood between 1934 and 1949? What could the works of Capra, Cukor, Hawks, Sturges, and McCarey have to do with those of Shakespeare, Kant, and Wittgenstein? Cavell's effort has long been to map die tremsformations of the human attempt to discover objects — for example, Platonic forms, private introspectible innate ideas, or natural phenomena which disclose God's action — inherently revelatory of die natures of diings, especially ofdie nature of a life worth living, and to suggest diat die worth ofa life (or a practice or a work of art) must and can be reckoned in the absence of such a discovery, diough such reckonings wUl themselves remain open to criticism. Attempts to discover once and for all the conditions of a worthwhde life are themselves understandable as reflections of fantasies of freeing oneself from reckoning and ofthe finite human nature which gives rise to such fantasies. Suppose we take up Cavell's suggestion. How might we carry out die sort of reckoning of the worth of a life which Cavell claims is possible? We might "retain the idea of ourselves as created and attempt further to humanize diis creation, identifying ourselves now as the creators of ourselves, since obviously no other being could be eligible for such a role." Achieving happiness whde so understanding ourselves would require us, as he puts it in The Claim ofReason, "to accept responsibility for ourselves in particular ... to consent to our...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 140-142
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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