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198Philosophy and Literature lard endeavors to convey his notion of Keats's creativity, which is best summed up in these words: "The renunciation of Self in the moodlessness of indolence is at one and the same time the renunciation of language and in this renunciation the poet is granted the poem" (p. 91). He then argues that when, after completing the Spring Odes, Keats wrote for money in the summer of 1819, he departed from this principle of renunciation and approached the egotistic purposefulness of Milton rather than the self-annihilation of Shakespeare. This application of Hazlitt's distinction to Keats's practice is interesting and clearly expressed. What weakens it is the fact that, whereas Pollard mentions the work which Keats did during that summer, he takes no notice of the poet's most obviously Miltonic effort, the first version of Hyperion, which was composed towards the end of the previous year. University of Canterbury, New ZealandGordon Spence TAe Discourse of Modernism, by Timothy J. Reiss; 410 pp. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985, $12.95 paper. In this fascinating book, Timothy Reiss studies the emergence, development and consolidation of analytico-referential or modern Western discourse, of "the discourse of modernism" which replaced the theologic-theocratic discourse of the Middle Ages. Reiss's theory and his critical method prolong and refine the work of Michel Foucault. For Reiss, discourse is not merely equivalent to verbal praxis; it includes all human semiotic practices. Furthermore, as opposed to Foucault and his famous epistemic break, Reiss proposes a dialectical model of discursive change. A dominant discourse is accompanied by a dominant occulted practice that is not thinkable in terms of it. When internal contradictions begin to impair the effectiveness of the discourse and when elements from the occulted practice start to function as useful conceptual instruments, the discourse becomes progressively inoperative and a passage is effected to a new discursive dominance (which includes elements left over from the previous one as well as quite new elements and already emergent ones and which is itself accompanied by an occulted practice). Analytico-referential discourse is based on the premise of a logical identity between the syntax of signifying practices, the order of reason, and the structure of a world viewed as exterior to both. The proper "language" can analyze correctly rational and material orders and can refer adequately to the objective truth of a world which is a fixed object, independent of the way it is thought and represented. Occulted is the responsibility of the enunciating subject in the constitution of that which it "speaks" about. After presenting his general model and investigating the difference between Reviews199 analytico-referential discourse and the medieval discourse from which it emerges as well as the discourse of the Greeks, Reiss explores the coming to dominance of modernist praxis by reading Utopian and science-fiction texts (from More's Utopia through Kepler's Somnium, Campanella's Città del sole, Bacon 's New Atlantis and New Organon, Cyrano's Voyage dans la lune and Voyage au soleil to Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels). In a concluding chapter, Reiss emphasizes that the dominance of analytico-referential discourse is coming to an end. We are facing a crisis in all modes of discursive practice, which makes it all the more important to comprehend how fundamental changes in discourse take place. Reiss's book not only contributes to the understanding of discursive power and discursive change and to the démystification of modernist praxis; it also sketches impressively the outline of some of the paths between the imperatives of truth and valid experimentation in science, possessive individualism in politico-economic theory, taste in aesthetic theory, common sense in philosophy , and contract in social theory. The Discourse ofModernism is not, however, without problems. Thus, Reiss is unclear as to the extent of the dominance of a dominant discourse: if such a discourse is accompanied by others contemporaneous with it and if it is undergoing change, if— that is — its spatio-temporal universality is constantly in danger, how dominant is it? Furthermore, Reiss's exploration seems at times circular (rather than dialectical): his readings allow him to give evidence for the adequacy of his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 198-199
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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