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Reviews359 with a Human Face (1990), which includes essays that enlarge on most of the topics covered in Renewing Philosophy. The common element that he identifies in their work is a recognition of the irreducibly normative element in human life and thought, an element that is exacdy what the materialist and relativist tendencies that Putnam attacks try either to dissolve or to deny. No doubt this is an illuminating diagnosis, but sometimes Putnam is guilty of characterizing attempts to eliminate the normative from philosophical accounts as if they were just a matter of bad faith—as if, that is, a motive of philosophical prudence might not also be involved: normativity is a deeply problematic conception, after all, even if Putnam is right that it cannot finally be avoided. His bold call to restore such essentially normative notions as that of reason to the center of philosophical debate remains only a program for coming philosophy, though indisputably a crucial one. Northern Illinois UniversityDavid Gorman Beyond Realism: Turgenev's Poetics ofSecular Salvation, by Elizabeth Cheresh Allen; viii & 255 pp. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992, $35.00. Whether you have read all, none, orjust one of Turgenev's novels, you have probably imbibed the same impression of his writing: carefully crafted prose, formally accomplished, stylistically sophisticated, featuring accurately sketched portraits ofnineteenth-century Russian social life, but with nothing in particular to say. In this thoughtful and necessary new book, Elizabeth Cheresh Allen sweetens our libation. Her objective is simple: "Readers should not turn to Turgenev merely to find transparent narratives of nineteenth-century Russian life or simply to enjoy pure samples of polished prose. They should read him for his singularly Turgenevan virtues, which are equal to, albeit different from, those of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy." As her tide indicates, Allen sees those virtues in Turgenev's transcendence of Realism's conventions and ideology. While most critics have looked at Turgenev 's work as the embodiment of Realism, Allen argues that his only true Realist work was his last novel, Virgin Soil, a failure which she attributes to its adherence to Realism's tenets. Aware of the difficulties engendered by the slipperiness of the term "Realism," Allen begins with a clarification. She classifies the ordinary language, people, and events characteristic of Realist narratives as part of Realist poetics, as separate from Realist ethics. Realism, she argues, pitches its ethical tent in the countryside, valuing com- 360Philosophy and Literature munity above all. These communities help their members achieve "psychic wholeness" and are valorized at the expense of lone, rebellious individuals. Turgenev, however, never depicts "coherent communities," instead focusing on individuals. He dius goes beyond Realism. Allen illustrates in detail Turgenev's characters' attempts to safeguard their psyches from the onslaught of outside forces dirough various protective strategies . Examining them at length, she demonstrates how Turgenev's narrative technique models those strategies for his readers. If attentive, we can learn by imitation: the narrative teaches us how to preserve our embatded psyches and how to rebuild ourselves anew. Salvation comes neither from grace nor from one's concerned community: "no community paves the way to secular salvation in Turgenev's fictional universe. In that universe, souls must save themselves by generating and defending their individuality on their own." If Beyond Realism has a fault, it's the tendency to lapse into pseudo-psychological jargon, as when Allen labels Turgenev "a veritable poet of the psychic defense mechanism." But that's carping. Allen possesses a thorough familiarity with Russian, American, and Continental fiction and criticism, and masterfully uses them to establish the context for her study. Her illuminating and original interpretations of individual texts unveil Turgenev's narrative strategies in surprising and delightful ways, as in her discussion of his use of litotes. Those are Beyond Realism's minor virtues; its greater strengths should provoke the reconsideration and rehabilitation of Turgenev's reputation that Allen desires . She is dead right when she notes that the tag "Realist" has been used to dismiss Turgenev as unimportant since the tilings about which he wrote realistically no longer concern us; her daring reassessment forces us to see him as very much engaged with modern interests. Perhaps more importandy, her attempts to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 359-360
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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