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394Philosophy and Literature deconstruction and the law, the semiotics oftourism, and rubbish theory (which treats the peculiar ifinescapable category ofmarginal, transient, discarded, and junky objects). Part IV, which surveys Habermas's theory of language, investigates recent work in the theory of fiction, and queries the prospects for a linguistics of writing, is perhaps not quite as eye-catchingly novel as Part III. But in its own way, it, too, offers insightful analysis, most notably in Culler's discussion of the sex of narrative voices and the politics of reading. The only essay that misfires in this excellent book is the one that Culler devotes to an aggressive challenge of religion in America. Beginning with a defense of Empson's anti-Christian polemic, Milton's God, Culler moves quickly to indict the sovereign place of"religious discourse," which, he contends, enjoys "extraordinary protection"; "there is practically no public anti-religious discourse " (p. 77). Such widespread support for religion has, in Culler's view, badly limited the kind ofresourceful, open inquiry into conventionally accepted ideas and values that education at its best ought to foster. This is, to be sure, a provocative claim, and conceivably a brave cultural critic might succeed in articulating the manner in which religion has curtailed criticism. But Culler's essay is far too loosely—indeed, carelessly—argued to advance such a case convincingly. He treats religion as an undifferentiated mass—is right-wing fundamentalism to be equated with liberation theology?—and seems oddly unaware of, or unwilling even to consider, what serious religious commitment might entail. Culler's method of argument in his essay on religion baffles me, and I wish he had not included it—at least not in its current form—in his book. But it does have the unintended effect of dramatizing by contrast the virtues of carefully crafted argument and enlightening, sharply focused critique that distinguish Framing the Sign as a whole and that will enable readers to benefit gready from it. Wellesley CollegeWiLLrAM E. CArN Romanticism in National Context, edited by Roy Porter and Mikulás Teich; ? & 353 pp. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988, $54.50 cloth, $17.95 paper. "Narrow definitions of Romanticism are avoided," assert the editors of this collection of essays, surely a case of preaching to the converted. Instead of taking exclusively literary or historical approaches, the essays aim to show the coherence of the Romanticism of different nations, bringing out the familiar themes of "diversity in unity, and unity in diversity" (p. 7). Thirteen nations Reviews395 are represented: quite righdy, the relatively little-known case histories of the Netherlands, Wales, and Hungary are each accorded an essay, but why include the more familiar England and France yet omit Scodand and North America? Literature, philosophy, and politics are covered in detail and no fewer than six of the contributors are historians of science. Art, architecture, and music, however , receive scantattention, with the notable exception ofRussian Romanticism. Considering the multidisciplinary nature of the movement this is regrettable but not altogether surprising in a book whose sole illustration, on the dust jacket, is Thomas Phillips's famous portrait of Byron—purged of Romantic color! The readable and scholarly accounts of Romantic art by Hugh Honour and William Vaughan should at least have been mentioned amongst the "Reading Suggestions" that follow the introduction. The contributions themselves are solidly "classical" in their meticulous scholarship and studied impartiality. The result is an undeniably valuable reference book which admirably succeeds in fulfilling the stated aim ofproviding exegeses ofthe leadingwritings involved. For figures such as MorganJohn Rhys, Spiridon Zambélios, Ramon de Mesonero Romanos, and Maurycy Mochnacki, look no further. Their places within their nations' Romanticisms are cogendy stated and are often accompanied by apt quotations. Take Mochnacki, writing just before the Polish Uprising of 1831: "It is now time to stop writing about art. We now have something else on our minds and in our hearts. We have improvised the most beautiful of poems—a National Uprising. AU our life is now poetry. The clashing of arms and the noise of the cannons—from this moment on that will be our rhythm and melody" (p. 328). One is reminded ofthe French sculptor, David d...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 394-396
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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