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Reviews355 Baroque Typographies: Literature/History/Phüosophy, edited by Timothy Hampton; 250 pp. Yale French Studies, No. 80, 1991, $15.95 paper. Defining and delimiting what has become known as the "baroque" in Western culture has been a prime source of learned debate at least since Wölfflin's attempt to differentiate the baroque from Renaissance style in his seminal Renaissance and Baroque. In the suggestive introduction to this volume of highly diverse and demanding essays, Hampton notes that although prior baroque studies have apparendy discovered a "body of texts with no theory," under reexamination the period may stand revealed as the genetic site of postmodernism . He suggests that contemporary criticism might reconsider the baroque in light of the postmodernist preoccupation with space and territoriality. Real and imagined baroque geographies—the academy, the salon, the theater, the site of the Cartesian self, the grotto, the island, etc.—thus provide the topographical foundations of modernity. Whether or not the evocation of the baroque as precursor of the postmodern elucidates our understanding of this perplexing cultural phenomenon, the essays offered here present a multifaceted panorama of the early modern period. The volume's ambitious tide adumbrates the range ofsubjects discussed. From Edwin M. Duval's compelling examination of Aubigné's Les Tragiques as a direct Protestant response to Ronsard's Discoursdes misères de ce temps, Christian Jouhard's study ofthe relationship ofRichelieu's political and intellectual power to physical space, to Gilles Deleuze's ingenious use of Leibnitz to oudine a cryptography deciphering the baroque's infinite "coils" and "folds," the student of the baroque will find a provocative and innovative range of articles. The firstsection, "Scenes ofWriting," centers on the geographyofthe baroque in literature. In her article on Corneille's La Place Royale,Jacqueline Lichtenstein refutes earlier critics who disparaged the play's tide as a misdirection obscuring its true subject and meaning. Besides being a physical space, the "royal place" is the psychological site in which the subject (Alidor in this case) struggles to throw offthe tyranny ofthe Other. In this ultimate triumph, the subject achieves a heroic, even kingly, mastery of the self. John D. Lyons's superb investigation of Corneille's Cinna explores the binary division of onstage and offstage theatrical space and how the récit focuses attention on the resulting border. Lyons relates the dichotomy of the seen "here" and the unseen "elsewhere" to the baroque notion of façade, where the outer masks the inner. Finally, Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani discusses the poetics of space in Sponde's emblem poetry. Descartes receives careful attention in the collection's second section, "Descartes and the Site of Subjectivity." Erica Harth's essay on "Cartesian Women" probes the feminist alternative to Descartes's strict objectivity and explains how feminine intellectual discourse reconciled the analogical and figurative language 356Philosophy and Literature ofpréciosité with the new rationality. TimothyJ. Reiss's examination of political dieory and practice in Descartes accents his use of literary models to further a political agenda. The great rationalist's poêle, for example, evokes Ronsard's 1560 poem "Discours â Louis des Masures," in which he praises the rebellion of Lorraine against Germany. This veiled reference subdy sets the Discours into the context ofpolitical and religious revolt. In another remarkable article Kevin Dunn reviews Descartes's ideas on private/public life and individuated yet homogeneous urban design in Amsterdam and discovers in them the foundation of Descartes's social epistemology. The book's final segment, "The Cultural Landscape," stresses the plastic arts. Articles include Louis Marin on Versailles as physical embodiment ofstate power and how space is transubstantiated into the royal body; Orest Ranum on the "encrustation" of baroque sites as a means of heightening the viewer's sense of awe and admiration; Christian Jouhard's "Richelieu, or 'Baroque' Power in Action"; and Gilles Deleuze on "The Fold." The effectiveness of these articles is mitigated, however, by the dearth ofillustrations. This quibble aside, Hampton deserves praise for bringing together eminent specialists in a volume that sheds light into the shadowy and labyrinthine folds of the baroque. Kansas State UniversityRobert T. Corum Proust: Philosophy of the Novel, by Vincent Descombes; translated by Catherine Chance Macksey, viii...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 355-356
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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