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242Philosophy and Literature meaning). In a brief conclusion, Todorov discusses the historical significance of the opposition between the two kinds of exegesis, relating it to the opposition between the hierarchical world of feudal Christian society, a world governed by an absolute truth and immutable values, and the democratic world of bourgeois society, in which relativism of values is compensated by methodological codification ; he also sketches a typology of interpretive strategies (constraints can be imposed on the choice of input or output text or on the procedures connecting them); and he attempts to explain the current coexistence of finalist and operational strategies: "It is ... as if the distinctive feature of our civilization were the suspension of choice and the tendency to understand everything without doing anything" (p. 170). As usual, Todorov's clarity of exposition is outstanding, his erudition impressive (he draws easily and efficiently on Strabo and Origen, Saint Augustine and Spinoza, Ast, Wolf, Lanson, but also Maimonides, Mahimabhattala, and 'Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjäni), and his examples consistently incisive. Furthermore, his study is enriched by stimulating discussions of a wide range of topics: the various forms of obscurity in (modern) writing, for example, the differences between lexical symbolism (the segment to be interpreted is smaller than a sentence) and propositional symbolism (the segment is a sentence), or the critique of classical philology by Schleiermacher. Todorov may perhaps be faulted for his stress on meaning reception and his relative neglect of meaning production: they prevent him from addressing squarely the (possible) differences between interpretation and understanding. Perhaps too, he does not pay quite enough attention to interpretive strategies that are not founded on a representational concept of language and attempt to view texts in their textuality rather than as manifestations of some transcendent meaning. Finaily, perhaps he underspecifies certain important distinctions: if discourse is literal when "it signifies without evoking anything" (p. 53) and transparent "if when we perceive it we pay no attention to its literal meaning" (p. 56), the difference between literalness and transparency becomes problematic . The fact remains, however, that Symbolism and Interpretation constitutes a highly readable, informative, and significant contribution to the study of semiotics. University of PennsylvaniaGerald Prince Money, Language, and Thought: Literary and Philosophic Economiesfrom the Medieval to the Modern Era, by Marc Shell; ? & 219 pp. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982, $22.50. In Money, Language and Thought, Marc Shell continues the investigations of the role of monetary symbolization that he began in The Economy ofLiterature (1978). The essays printed in his latest volume — most of which have already been Reviews243 published elsewhere — deal with Poe, medieval grail tales, Shakespeare, Goethe, Kant, Hegel, Lessing, and Heidegger. There is no real attempt made to connect these studies, but a common theme running through all of them is that "money talks in and through discourse in general" (p. 180). Whether our authors know it or not, they speak through tropics of symbolization and exchange, "providing thought with a discomforting, but motivating, resistance" (p. 180). Shell thinks the resistance discomforting, it seems, because we have not acknowledged just how deep the power of money runs. When Kant talks about ontology, Hegel about sublation, and Heidegger about truth, it is not simply that they use monetary metaphors, or speak about money; it is that the language of money infects their thinking and their discourse. And they (and we) do not realize this. Indeed, Shell thinks that "men have been trying to expel money from the mind or to transform money of the mind into an agent of liberation" (pp. 186-87). Money, Language and Thought shows how, despite these attempts, the monetary keeps sneaking back into our literary and philosophical discourses. There are two major projects in Money, Language and Thought. The first is to use the language of money as a lens through which to read some of the most interesting works of Western literature and philosophy. Shell offers new perspectives on The Merchant of Venice, Goethe's Faust, Nathan the Wise, and "On the Essence of Truth." By reading these and other texts in the light of a theme that seemed at first only marginal to them, our understanding of what is marginal or central...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 242-243
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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