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Roman Jakobson: Verbal Art, Verbal Sign, Verbal Time (review)
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182Philosophy and Literature the ardent poems to Vittora Colonna, a metaphysic far from supine Petrarchanizing . It is a pleasure to discover that in this book love is not subjected to the processes of academic desiccation. Smith's close and intense analysis of the Paulo and Francesca passage clarifies for us the "mimetic textures" that compel the reader's feelings. We are brought to see the odd, particular fervor of the lines, the Italian on the lips and tongue. Here and elsewhere he proves to be a critic who does not shrink from showing that he is moved. Given the profit and pleasure provided by this book, it seems almost churlish to suggest that his discussion of Vaughan is something of a blemish. He attempts at tedious length to establish that Vaughan is not a dunderhead with intermittent spasms of imagination, but a thinking metaphysical poet who sees the universe as "an organism of love," a poet for whom "right seeing and feeling follow right understanding" (p. 278). I am bleakly persuaded, I suppose , but remain mutedly scandalized that he would give Vaughan twice as much space as Donne or Herbert. Professor Smith does not provide the excitations of more modish iconoclasting and deconstructing critics, but his thoughtful discriminations oppose lazy readings and are delightful to one's reason and sensibility. Whitman CollegeWalter E. Broman Roman Jakobson: Verbal Art, Verbal Sign, Verbal Time, edited by Krystyna Pomorska and Stephen Rudy; xiv & 208 pp. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985, $29.50 cloth, $12.95 paper. In 1982 I had the sad privilege of reporting the recent death of Roman Jakobson to a gathering of New Zealand linguists, having just heard the news at a linguistic conference in Sydney. The way this news was spread says something about the man. All linguists and literary theorists, whatever their specialty, will acknowledge Jakobson's massive and fundamental sixty-year contribution to their discipline. Yet he was not a household name, like an Einstein or a Freud, and his death was not prominently reported in the ordinary media. Even to professionals in his various fields, the extraordinary size and diversity of Jakobson's achievement can seem intimidating, and many who mention him with respect have read little of his work. So, although this book was planned (partly by Jakobson himself) as "a fitting introduction to certain of his linguistic theories and especially to his pathbreaking work in Reviews183 poetics" (p. xiv), it will be at least as useful to those of us who already know something about Jakobson but need encouragement to explore beyond that corner of his opus with which we are familiar. After a short autobiographical piece elating from 1980, the book is divided into four sections: "The Dimension of Time," "Poetry of Grammar and Grammar of Poetry," "Poetry and Life," and "Jakobson's Legacy." The last section contains essays on Jakobson's poetics by Linda Waugh and Krystyna Pomorska , and on his morphological research by Igor Mel'cuk. The other three sections contain material by Jakobson himself in the form both of articles (with or without a co-author) and of records of conversations. The progression is, broadly speaking, from more abstract to more concrete topics. In "The Dimension of Time,"Jakobson criticizes Saussure's identification of synchrony and diachrony with the static and dynamic aspects of language respectively, and also Saussure's identification of "syntagmatic" with "linear" (which inhibits the recognition of simultaneous features in phonology, for example). By contrast , the third section ("Poetry and Life") discusses the work of two poets, Majakovskij and Hölderlin, in a squarely biographical context. The bridge between these two sections is "Poetry of Grammar and Grammar of Poetry," which contains examples of Jakobson's analytical method as applied to two love poems of Pushkin (with copious glosses for the Russianless reader) and to two versions of Yeats's poem, "The Sorrow of Love." The article on Yeats, the longest in the book and in some sense its climax, is preceded by a record of a discussion at Cologne in 1975, which prepares us for the technicalities of the analysis itselfby presentingJakobson's defense against various criticisms ofhis method. Inevitably, being a collection of pieces from...