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Reviews403 to be found in Steiner. He is imprecise when dealing with details and he is banal when sweepingly contemplating "that bridge from the organic back, that threshold to the inorganic over which we can walk across lichen-backed escarpments into our preconscious and stand as close as a planet to God" (p. 162). Will is self-reflective in a way Steiner is not, as though looking into the book one sees a series of mirrors reflecting only Will. This is despite frequent long quotations and such an interesting crew of authorities as Eliot, Joyce, Adrian Stokes, Gary Snyder, Montaigne, Villon, Pater, and Tom Wolfe. Will quotes these and other authors, but he exhibits an uncanny talent for short-circuiting the complexities latent in the questions they raise. He compares himself to Derrida (pp. 110-11) and dismisses Marxist historiography (p. 182) in ways that are simply inept. He casts upon the waters but the spirits do not rise. Will discusses the task of the translator as if Walter Benjamin had never written. He claims that untranslatability can never be proven, then despite himself goes on to prove that translations can at least be hopelessly inadequate. He considers that the peculiar quality of "utterance in the poetic mode" (he never defines the term) is "its ikonic, self-referential character" (p. 84). He clearly wishes his book to be read as just such an utterance. He is ostensibly ambitious, but effectively reductive. This is most evident in his style. He quotes Genesis 11: 4—9 (Babel), and comments, "In the beginning, after all, was a Logos. What are we doing, in learning new languages, but recovering that Logos?" (p. 14). That "after all" and the "a" before "Logos" are deliberately placed, intended to register Will's self-consciousness. This style persists throughout the book and rapidly becomes an irritant. Oddly paired words, yoked togetherby hyphens, are onlyone ofthe foiblesWillindulges: "example-chunks" (p. 39), "thought-friends" (p. Ill), "intelligibility-zones" (p. 127), "mind-talk space" (p. 133), "existence-cue" (p. 138)—none of these really facilitates comprehensibility or usefully stimulates the imagination, and they are all arch. Yet their presence indicates something about the transgressive nature ofthe writing Will is attempting here. The ampersand connecting the two words of the tide is printed bigger than anyofthe letters in the words, as ifit was being highlighted as a semantic and stylistic example ofa threshold being crossed and a testimony to the crossing taking place. It is clear, then, that style is important for Will. He cites as influences some of the wildest American stylists and most catalytic scholars (Carl Sauer, Charles Olson); but Will's bookjust lies there and dies. University of Waikato, New ZealandAlan Riach Feminist Literary History, by Janet Todd; viii & 162 pp. New York: Roudedge, 1988, $12.95 paper. Roudedge has advertisedJanetTodd's FeministLiterary History as "an accessible introduction to . . . contemporary debates in feminism and literary theory," but apparendy Todd and her publisher do not see eye-to-eye. According to Todd, 404Philosophy and Literature her book provides "not another introduction to feminist criticism . . . but a defence of the early socio-historical enterprise, together with an assessment of its likely developments and my hopes for a feminist literary history founded on its base" (pp. 1-2). While Todd does indeed offer a cogent and, in part, persuasive, defense offeminist literary historicism, her method ultimately compromises the force of her argument. Providing an historical survey of feminist literary criticism since the 1960s, the book jumps rapidly and sketchily from subject to subject (with the exception ofthe chapter on reading Wollstonecraft), its sections punctuated by intrusive subtides. At their best these brief sections offer refreshing assessments of familiar material; at their worst, regrettable caricatures of major writers and movements. Considering Todd's deeply held conviction that politics and feminist criticism are inseparable, her incisive assessment of the current scene in feminist criticism, and also the important historical research she has done previously, one feels that more might have been done for the cause of feminist literary history than is accomplished here. After a charged and somewhat personal introduction, Todd looks back to die 1960s and 1970s, recalling the excitement and high spirits generated...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 403-405
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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