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Reviews391 underestimates the analogy to the Kabbalah, Hans Mayer asserts in "Walter Benjamin and Franz Kafka" (1980) that Benjamin's understanding of Kafkaesque aUegory was gready influenced by Scholem's insistence on the Talmudic plurality of Kafka's texts with their "endless possible interpretations" (p. 197). Since explanation is perpetuaUy postponed in aUegory, Ulumination in Kafka's world becomes purely "prophecy without hope" (p. 208). In "Walter Benjamin's City Portraits" (1962), Peter Szondi suggests that Benjamin 's "language of images" is actuaUy twofold (p. 26): there is indeed the allegorical fragment that destroys mythic analogies, but there is also the reconstructive moment "when the author takes two different objects and reveals their essence by linking them in a metaphor based on common property" (p. 28). In "Walter Benjamin: From Rupture to Shipwreck" (1981), Pierre Missac locates a liminal imagistic category between fragmentand metaphor—theBruchst ückor productofrupture—manifesting what Benjamincalled the "weak Messianic power" through which the past is transmitted to the present (p. 216). Irving Wohlfarth in "Resentment Begins at Home" (1981) is weU aware that this historical interaction requires complex maneuvering on the part of Benjamin's "materialist historian," who must fragment the myths of tradition yet save the significant pieces (p. 226). In "Dialectics at a StandstiU" (1982), RolfTiedemann accordingly demonstrates that "dialectical images" as "configurations ofthe Now and the Then" constitute the central category in the unfinished edifice of Benjamin's Passagen-Werk (p. 284). Two essays undermine the general exceUence of Smith's collection. Hans RobertJauss's "Reflection on the Chapter 'Modernity' in Benjamin's Baudelaire Fragments" (1979) is a virtually uninteUigible excerpt from a longer essay. In "Walter Benjamin's Theory of Myth" (1983), Winfried Menninghaus aU too briefly distinguishes Benjamin's approach to myth from seven venerable theories . If one is going to argue that "Benjamin wants to appropriate the universalizing capacity of a purely formal conception of myth" (p. 295) while avoiding "the radically unhistorical, formal semiohgical concept ofmyth oftwentieth -century structural anthropology" (p. 293), one would be weU advised not to dismiss Lévi-Strauss in two sentences. University of California, BerkeleyLynne Vieth Freud, Proust, and Lacan: Theory as Fiction, by Malcolm Bowie; xii & 225 pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, $39.50 cloth, $15.95 paper. This volume consists ofpreviously read papers and lectures loosely organized into an introduction, an epilogue, and five chapters, ofwhich Freud and Proust receive one each and one shared, while Lacan receives two. To what extent 392Philosophy and Literature does the author contribute to our knowledge and understanding of these theorists /fictioneers and their interrelationships? Bowie rejects the stress placed by the most subtle analysts of Proust on the central role of intuition, synthesis, and metaphor, dismissing their views as "misleading" and "absurd" (p. 47), or as "thrusting a false simplicity upon the book" (p. 48). He himself then proceeds to view the whole work through the themes of lying and jealousy, and thus neglects the cruciaUy important first and final volumes to concentrate on La Prisonnière. As for theory, he rejects empirical verification—the only real test of the value of theory for criticism— with heavy irony, and remarks: "Many critics, it seems, are wüling to grant seriousness and coherence to a given social or psychological theory only if they are able to show that theory to be pre-eminendy applicable to novels, plays or poems. . . . The process is not a particularly arduous one. There is no need for the critic to feel exhausted or forlorn. . ." (p. 5). Lacan's Ecrits were published by Le Seuil in 1966, and his brilliant lessons on the analyst-patient relationship were used in the 1970s to radicalize the interpretation of first-person narration. However, Lacan, already notorious for his obscurantism, has gradually been discredited by his association with the selfcontradictory deconstructionism extracted from Derrida by disciples like Paul de Man and Hillis Miller. Bowie seems unaware of this. He discusses Lacan's famous "Séminaire sur la Lettre volée" but fails to grasp the essential fact that Lacan's errorwas to see in Poe's purloined letter a pure empty signifier. Derrida's error (and Bowie's) is to claim that "the mobility of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 391-393
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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