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Reviews397 and as well [the] necessary limitations" (p. 3) of narrative in the mediation of knowledge. All these novels expose an irony of narrative. Its "figurai" (p. 10) and referential aspects decenter each other, creating an aporia, or inability to say what one means. Brodsky reads die irony as de Manían "allegory" (marking an unbridgeable distance): an alienation within the novel of experience from its necessarily narrative cognition (p. 142). Nevertheless, as de Man displaces Kant, Brodsky falls short of her broader aim: to study the epistemological nature of narrative in the novel. This aim demands a more critical treatment of Kant, de Man, and traditional narrative theorists, notably of their assumption that rationality can be guaranteed only by correspondence to an antecedent, like de Man's and Brodsky's "experience." Brodsky ignores Wittgenstein. Wittgensteinian "telling" guarantees the rationality of representations without distinguishing "appearance" from "something that there appears." Coherent "going on" within the context of a form of life secures rationality. Thus the interpretive context, not some antecedent referent, guarantees the rationality of practical telling. Take Brodsky's treatment of how the narrative ofcognition (Elinor's "sense") fails to credit experience (Marianne's "sensibility") in Austen's novel. Widiout examination, Brodsky invokes narratologists' foundational notion that behind every telling (sjuzet) lies a referent (fabula). Thus when Elinor tells Marianne about Willoughby's confession, she imposes a falsifying form upon the perceptual fabula, "the direct experience of him which gave rise to this speech itself" (p. 178). Yet to prove Elinor's narrative "imposes its form," Brodsky does not invoke "direct experience," nor does she complain of inability to do so— an aporia. Instead, despite ignoring Wittgenstein, Brodsky uses practical telling to argue her claim. She tries to cull a consistent narrative from the events of the novel: "Elinor neglects to mention thatWilloughby himselfnotonlyadmitted and regretted his crime, but also indicated that the virtue of its victim might have been less than beyond reproof" (p. 179). The view of telling implicit here might lead to quite a different reading of Elinor's narration and indeed of all the novels discussed. The stakes are especially high since, as the examples of Kant and Brodsky's reading of Austen testify, a foundational model of telling can lead to moral as well as conceptual gridlock. UnTVERSITY OF CALrFORNIA, BERKELEYCORNELIA E. BROWN Literature and the Body: Essays on Populations andPersons, edited by Elaine Scarry; xxvii & 220 pp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988, $22.50. Look out, deconstruction: another challenger has entered the lists. Materialist criticism focusing on the body (this volume's approach) begins with three premises radically opposed to poststructuralist tenets. First, materialism posits a 398Philosophy and Literature variable model of the relation between language and things. Sometimes reference "slips," as deconstruction would have it, but sometimes it does not—the materialist critic holds out for the "referential fluidity" of language. Second, materialism maintains that the material world—and especially the human body that inhabits it—matters, that it "has substance" in every sense of the phrase. And finally, language is not cut off from material reality, but can act upon and even alter the world. Hence, as Elaine Scarry points outwithout ever mentioning deconstruction by name, materialist criticism offers an alternative to that method 's tendency "to divest literary language of its ethical or political content" (p. xxv). The seven essays in the book position themselves as openly political and ethical interventions in the literary texts they treat and in the history those texts represent. At first glance, the essays in the volume (selected from the 1986 English Institute) seem miscellaneously assorted. Arranged chronologically according to their subjects, the essays focus either on "persons" or "populations" in texts. The first category includes pieces by Scarry and Christopher Ricks on manifestations of the body in John Donne's poems; one by Jerome Christensen on class, sexuality, and authorship in Lord Byron's correspondence; and one by Carroll Smith-Rosenberg on the heroine of "America's first bestseller, Hannah Foster's The Coquette" (p. 167) and her historical counterpart. The essays on populations attend as carefully as the others to "the body" in literature, but focus less exclusively on individuals. Mieke BaI resurrects...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 397-399
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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