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120Philosophy and Literature So the book's most interesting thesis is unsupported. It remains a pity that the philosophical game ofadvancing and defending a position is otherwise virtually eschewed. After all, that game is played, even if Shusterman chooses not to play it other dian in the earlier sections ofhis book. There is a perfunctory discussion (p. 215) ofsome anxieties that have been held about the general (Wittgensteinian ) methodology. These anxieties are left exactly as they were. The Object ofLiterary Criticism is, nevertheless, a useful compendium of positions held on these central issues and the Wittgensteinian attitude fosters a warm sympathetic charity which is a positive strength in exposition and understanding . It is clearly and vigorously written throughout. La Trobe University, AustraliaAlec Hyslop Locke, Wesley, and the Method of Romanticism, by Richard E. Brantley; xi & 300 pp. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1984, $30.00. Richard Brantley's Locke, Wesley, and the Method ofRomanticism won this year's award from the Conference on Christianity and Literature. He is especially good on Wesley's "philosophical theology" and informative on "the Lockean connection." But Brantley promises more, in fact a sort of intellectual tripleplay : from Locke's epistemology to Wesley's theology, and then from Wesley, the pivot, to some ofthe most various, complex poetry in English, that of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats. Brantley avers "that the primarily natural experience of Locke, and the primarily spiritual experience of Wesley, not only come together in Wesley's theology, but thence inform, directly and indirectly , a central dialectic of the poets" (p. 25). "Experience," then, is the capacious if somewhat diaphanous net the author casts over philosophy, theology, and poetry. For Brantley to insist upon a connection between Locke and Wesley is not, he himself acknowledges, original. The young Wesley spent Friday mornings studying the Essay and then abridged a major rendering of Locke. But for Brantley to link the Romantics with Wesley is potentially illuminating, and then, through Wesley, to connect them to Locke should make for some fresh readings of the poetry. Our expectations are especially keen because the Romantics ostensibly resisted any association with "the mechanical philosophy" Reviews121 and have customarily been perceived as reacting against it; moreover, some were actively hostile to orthodox Christianity. Ten years ago Brantley himself pursued the We^leyan connection in his useful book, Wordsworth's 'Natural Methodism. '"I swim," he wrote then, "against a strong current fashion" (p. 1). He continues here against a tide. He insists upon grounding the Romantics deep in an empirical past — making diem legatees of rather than fugitives from Locke — but he has an uncomplicated view of influence and its absorption. His language, if sometimes ponderous and wordy, is blessedly unafflicted by contemporary jargon. And he reads the Romantics in an old-fashioned, fairly impressionistic way. Brantley divides his book into three parts, the first a brief philosophical "orientation" devoted to Locke; the second, longest, and finest, an extended discussion of Wesley; and the third, "Romantic Method," consisting of discussions of how the individual poets reveal Locke's and Wesley's influence. This segment, which should bring to fruition Brantley's purpose and his study's claim to originality, is seventy-two pages. That fact more forcibly than anything else indicates the problem: the poets get scanted, receiving sketchy, simplistic readings. Despite the legwork that went into the previous 128 pages (there are also nearly 100 pages of critical apparatus) this last crucial step lacks the energy to make sufficient headway against the current. Locke's influence — reduced to an emphasis upon sensation and "experience," which are then sifted through Wesley — becomes so attenuated and mellow that we must conclude the "Locke Tradition" was not only unavoidable but quite inoffensive even to the Romantics . Blake, a vituperative antagonist of Locke, gets seven pages, the result predictably meager. Wordsworth receives the bulk of attention, even though Brantley correctly argues it should be Coleridge, who "besides being poet, was both philosopher and theologian. Hence the centrality of his position here" (p. 160). He shouldbe central. But the most avowedly metaphysical and theological mind among the Romantics, and the most gifted opponent of empiricism, is eliminated in eight pages. At best, then...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 120-121
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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