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236Philosophy and Literature and material conditions. The humanist view of tragedy thus errs when it accepts suffering and loss as inevitable facts of human existence and mystifies them as the means to understanding the transcendant essence of man. Jacobean tragedy presents suffering and loss as potentially remediable, the products of the mechanisms of political and economic power. The plays conduct a radical interrogation of those mechanisms, and of the ideology that sustained them. Although few tragedies openly attack the dominant ideology, many portray the contradictions within it, in keeping with the simultaneous shift from an idealist toward a realist conception of mimesis. The plays restore the orthodox order in the end only at the cost of consistency, for by then they have destroyed the validity of that order by revealing its corrupt and violent nature. The book's theoretical emphasis can be seen in the fact that less than half its length is devoted to brief, dense readings of thirteen plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, Webster, Marston, Chapman, Greville, and Tourneur. Dollimore develops his argument with some flexibility, adapting it to the individual vision ofeach play, as he does in a fascinating discussion of the relation of love to power in Antony and Cleopatra. Occasionally, however, the thesis tyrannizes as surely as the power structure it attacks. While Dollimore gives me new appreciation for Webster, he overrates plays like Mustapha and Antonio's Revenge on the basis of their political radicalism. He views King Lear as if through the narrowed eyes of an unrepentant Edmund, concluding that pity, love and insight gained through suffering are "precious yet ineffectual" (p. 193) in Lear because they fail to generate socio-political change. Despite these reservations, I found Radical Tragedy consistently stimulating and often persuasive, due to Dollimore's mastery of an impressive range of materials, both Renaissance and modern. He can draw on both Calvin and Foucault to illuminate Dr. Faustus, on feminist criticism to define the character ofVittoria in The WhiteDevil, or on recent work by social historians on changing class relationships in the early seventeenth century in order to defend and develop Brecht's interpretation of Coriolanus. This ambitious book has value both for the specialist and for anyone interested in materialist analysis and its application to earlier literatures. University of Puget SoundPeter H. Greenfield Rhetoric, Literature, and Interpretation, edited by Harry R. Garvin and Steven Mailloux; 184 pp. Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Bucknell University Press for the Bucknell Review, 1983, $15.00. The editor and eight contributors to this anthology of articles seek to bridge the concerns of rhetoric and of interpretation, to make them meet over what Reviews237 they share: literature. The high points of the volume make it worth selective perusal. The low points, however, suggest that this volume of the Bucknell Review shares with some of its predecessors an obsession with situating the argument within the narrow bounds of what is new and latest, and an insensitivity to language. For many of its authors, "interpretation" means interpreting interpreters ; and rhetoric means anything but concern for one's own audience and the intelligibility of one's own text. Here you will read of the "mergence of our horizons" (Algis Mickunas, "Hermeneutics from Gadamer to Poeggeler," [p. 51]) and of "the dichotomization of thought that . . . teratogenizes [sic, read deforms] the female writer" — Marylin B. Arthur, "Psychology: The Case of H.D.,"(p. 65). Paragraph after paragraph is built up, not only of buzzwords, but of references to the continental deities and their proliferating disciples. What we are being persuaded of is not the writer's vision or revision of the text, but rather that the writer interprets in the prescribed, de ricoeur fashion, that he or she worships at the right altar. At their worst, the authors leave literature quite by the wayside. So should we them. To the better articles. David Willbern in "Murther: The Hypocritic and the Poet" achieves his hypo-criticism ("seeing through the lens of the poem, with my own eyes" [p. 82]) by engaging the text and subtext of a Robert Duncan poem, and is convincing. Michael Hancher's "Pragmatics in Wonderland" demonstrates in earnest what linguistic philosophers have long shown piecemeal: that Lewis Carroll...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 236-238
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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