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238Philosophy and Literature that Hatlen almost makes good on this radical interpretive proposition. But on rhetorical grounds his comparison is absurd. Attempting to write a criticism sensitive to both interpretation and rhetoric would mean at least remarking that the novel is "a more subtle response" despite its clunky, inflated prose and clumsy, often creaky narrative. Even more challenging of course would be also to explain how Frankenstein could be so great — have lasted so long and invited so many treatments — when such sweeping rhetorical qualifications must be made for it. Hatlen, Hancher, and Willbern's co-contributors also need sweeping rhetorical qualifications, but I am not of a mind to make them. Le Moyne CollegeR. J. Fertei. Transfiguration: Poetic Metaphor and the Languages of Religious Belief, by Frank Burch Brown; ? & 230 pp. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983, $24.00. In Transfiguration: Poetic Metaphor and the Languages of Religious Belief, Frank Burch Brown undertakes the ambitious project of arriving at a satisfactory definition of metaphor and explaining how "extended metaphoric structures have the capacity to augment, transfigure, and reinterpret meanings already a part of language and experience" (p. 6). Drawing from the semantic theories of Philip Wheelwright and the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, as well as from T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, he establishes that the conceptual language of theology and the expressive language of poetry work in a dialogical relationship that expands our capacity to interpret religious beliefs, especially those of Christianity . This well-documented and truly interdisciplinary work will be of interest to students of literary criticism, poetry, metaphysics, and theology. Brown begins by accepting Wheelwright's notion that "steno-language," or logical, argumentative discourse, and "deep language," that is, the discourse of poetry and myth, coexist in a creative tension in metaphor. Metaphor, in turn, alternates between epiphor or reasonable comparisons, and diaphor, or seemingly incongruous comparisons, that at some times force us to acknowledge the logical connections between otherwise disparate elements, at others to intuit new truths that escape clear expression. Yet, for Wheelwright, metaphor remains enclosed in the realm of literature with no application to philosophy. Eliot's Four Quartets demonstrate both the strengths and inadequacies of Wheelwright's theories. The four poems are an extended metaphor that juxtaposes abstract reflections on time with visions of eternity and progresses from lesser to greater clarity, that is, from diaphor to epiphor. The Quartets attempt to represent, in a manner reminiscent of Pascal's Pensées, a lifetime of spiritual exploration that Reviews239 moves from dissatisfaction with human finitude to faith in the Incarnation by means of withdrawal from a chaotic world and self-negation. Yet, this metaphoric representation is also an argument that seeks to reshape our thoughts and feelings, just as theology does: "The purpose of Four Quartets is to offer a significance of experience that will cause one to become . . . alive to one's whole being — including one's being in relation to a whole larger than oneselP (p. 121). Eliot's work proves Whitehead's assertion that poetry is a necessary complement to metaphysics since it furnishes the imaginative insights which philosophy and theology will later clarify. These interpretations oí Wheelwright, Eliot, and Whitehead lead in the final chapter, to Brown's personal formulation of the necessity of poetry to theology. He first rejects the notion that a uniquely conceptual discourse can best explain either the truth of Christian scriptures or Christianity's relevance to modern life, since so much scriptural language is symbolic and so little of human experience intellectual. Only metaphor, the kind found not only in the Four Quartets but in all great literature, can engage both our thoughts and feelings, and establish a "common standpoint of 'shared' religious experience" (p. 165). Through epiphor, we recognize the elements of divine grace that infuse our daily lives, while through diaphor we glimpse the mysteries of redemption. Ideally, metaphoric representation and argumentation result in the "transfiguration" of experience, the transformation of ordinary events that leads to a fuller understanding of human finitude and permits a renewal of faith in the possibilities of salvation. The numerous evaluations of other thinkers, from the revisionist Christian theologians to poststructural literary critics, weigh...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 238-239
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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