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188Philosophy and Literature discusses how, in his Essais, Montaigne "domesticates" the threatening difference of masculine models and manages to free his text (and himself) from Death, thanks to a "passage through the 'feminine'" (p. 57). The third chapter, on Théophile de Viau's tragedy Pyrame et Thisbé, takes as a topical image for the configuration of desire and of social order the wall which separates the lovers on the stage, and beyond which they will inevitably lose their "self in the chaos of in-difference, of death. There follows an insightful reading of the first edition of Francion, where Greenberg approaches the structural complexity of Charles Sorel's novel by showing how "grotesque" episodes constantly interrupt the biographical linearity of the narrative, thus preventing the constitution of the character as center. The last essay, dealing with Corneille 's Polyeucte, focuses on Pauline's dream, which represents the sacrifice of duty to pleasure; by the end of the play, however, the feminine has been "contained" by a more powerful force, the new order ofChristianity. AU in all, Greenberg's thought-provoking "speculations" remain open: considering the episodic character of each chapter in this wide-ranging study, should we see the absence of a conclusion as yet another way to conform to Baroque structure ? Also, we are tempted to understand the absence of a bibliography as a reflection of the Baroque subversion of the "Father," a subversion that Greenberg has so deftly demonstrated in the text. Detours ofDesire is a valuable contribution to seventeenth-century studies. It offers a provocative perspective on the first part of the "Grand Siècle," while illuminating the ideological context of French Classicism. In addition to reinterpreting well-known authors, like Montaigne and Corneille, this study also reveals the modernity of more neglected yet fascinating works such as Francion and Pyrame et Thisbé. Even if the systematic application of psychoanalysis to early modern literature might seem questionable to some, Greenberg's theoretical frame is firmly supported by a profound sensitivity to the texts and subtle insights into their creative process. Most important, the approach chosen allows Greenberg to reveal essential ambiguities and contradictions of Baroque literature, which need more critical attention. University of Wisconsin-MadisonMartine Debaisieux The Knowledge ofIgnorance: From Genesis toJules Verne, by Andrew Martin; ? & 259 pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, $39.50. Anyone foolhardy enough to attempt to describe this dense, rich, stimulating book must necessarily fall into a trap which Martin has himself avoided. He warns at the outset that it is "the textual equivalent of a picture made up Reviews189 mainly of empty space populated by a few stray dots which need to be connected up before any intelligible form, or forms, can appear," and goes on to say, "I leave it to the reader to connect up the dots" (p. ix). To make matters worse, he confesses that his methodology is "strictly bricolage" (p. 8) and declares that "the intentions and frustrations that characterize the anepistemological text apply equally to this book, which therefore does not so much say what its subject is, as show it" (p. 7). Yet it would be fairly safe to say that, on one level, it might be described as a prolegomenon to a history of ignorance and to a systematic anepistemology. On another level, it is clearly an introduction to a literary genre — what Martin terms "anepistemological literature" — consisting of texts that aspire to either omniscience or nescience, share an obscure faith that knowing nothing and knowing everything are in some way equivalent, and exhibit a common abhorrence of the composite or intermediate state — in which knowledge and ignorance commingle. In the first part, focusing on the biblical creation stories , Nicholas of Cusa, Erasmus, and Rousseau, Martin dismisses an antithetical model of knowledge and ignorance as a fiction. In the following section, treating largely of Hugo, Napoleon, Chateaubriand, and Jules Verne, he considers the ironic, paradoxical, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic ramifications of"that illusory theory" (p. 59). In doing so, he is also concerned with other interlocking antitheses, between Paradise and the Fall, antiqua and moderna , civilized and savage, Occident and Orient, science and literature. One of his main literary conclusions is that writing, "mediating...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 188-190
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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