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Reviews335 on a "skeptical epistemology of taste" by which the value of reading and experience never coheres into a product or final result but is always part ofthe process ofjudgment engaged in by an unstable and changing self. Hobbes, on the other hand, is shown to attempt to halt this shifting by expelling rhetoric in favor of science, an attempt that fails, in Kahn's view, precisely because of the need for prudential rhetoric to enable the reader to deal with a text like Leviathan. Thus rhetoric remains central to Hobbes's work. In situating her book in modern critical and philosophical terms, Kahn opts for "reconstruction" rather than deconstruction. Her awareness of the issues involved in the deconstructive emphasis on cognitive problems is acute, but it does not prevent her, happily, from engaging in the reenactment of the later humanists' own, different problematics. In doing so, Kahn brings refreshing insights even into passages (e.g., Montaigne's description of his accident in "On Experience") that have received extensive treatment by other critics. Furthermore , Kahn frequently suggests applications of her findings to other important figures in Renaissance philosophy, notably Machiavelli and Descartes. Although her section on Hobbes might have been strengthened by longer consideration of Ramist rhetorical theory (and the historical work on rhetoric of such scholars as Howell and Ong), it is certainly good that Kahn has emphasized close readings ofher principal figures. In short, Kahn's book is a lively, informative , and solid contribution both to Renaissance studies and to the dialogue between rhetoric and philosophy. Dartmouth CollegeJohn D. Lyons "Germinal" and Zola's Political and Religious Thought (Purdue University Monographs in Romance Languages, vol. 14), by Philip Walker; xii & 157 pp. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1984, $24.00 paper. This concise study by a seasoned nineteenth-century scholar seeks out die philosophical underpinnings of Zola's Germinal. Through his investigation of Zola's conflicting needs for both scientific and religious truth, Walker successfully demonstrates that Germinal is at once a naturalistic and highly idealistic work, which evokes through its contradictions the major intellectual trends of the last half of the nineteenth century. Walker's thesis is that Zola, having early lost his Cadiolic faith, felt compelled for the rest ofhis life "to indulge, on the one hand, in glowing metaphysical and religious fantasies and, on the other, to find a secular faith to which he could 336Philosophy and Literature seriously commit himselP (p. 24). Thus, his love of facts and philosophical positivism, reflected in Germinal's precise documentation, emphasis on heredity and rejection of utopianism, actually stem from the novelist's "intense philosophical and religious doubts, confusions and anxieties" (p. 1). Despite his belief in science as the true road to knowledge, Zola often appears as pessimistic as his contemporaries, Flaubert and Huysmans. Indeed, he portrays throughout the Rougon-Macquart series, and especially in Germinal, a mankind crushed by vice and suffering, threatened with annihilation by a cruel or indifferent nature. Walker's third chapter reminds us that, paradoxically, Zola simultaneously evinces a quasi-mystical faith in die harmony that fuses man and nature into a "giant organism" (p. 28). Here, Walker's vast knowledge not only of Zola's novels but also of his notebooks and political writings allows him to define Zola's pantheism as a type of religion proclaiming die universal principles oflife, love, and work, which inspire the stories of Catherine and Etienne's courtship, the miners' rebellion, as well as die ending of Germinal. Chapter four, perhaps the most original part of this study, explains how Zola's interest in geology accounts for his insistence upon seeing man as only a small element of creation and upon equating social catastrophes, such as the violent Montsou strike in Germinal, with the natural upheavals diat restructure and benefit the earth. Furthermore, Zola's evocation of Greek creation myths, especially die batde of the Titans, suggests that die miners, consigned to a modern Tartarus, will one day revolt against die capitalist gods to effect the proletarian revolution. Chapters five and six deal widi Zola's contradictory views of history. Walker proves that, as much as Hugo, Zola was a romantic humanitarian who believed diat mankind...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 335-336
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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