In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews391 historical sympathy. Novitz chooses a soft target when he berates Bell for the perverse claim that "we need bring with us nothing from life" to appreciate a work of art. Yet the context of this statement in Art was an attempt to render Cézanne intelligible to a large but ignorant British public, reared on Victorian novels in paint; and it worked. Novitz is more persuasive as the embattled liberal, who defends notions of truth and falsehood from Rorty's onslaughts, and who claims diat there are important discontinuities between art and life. The conclusion righdy bemoans how Anglo-American philosophy has "lost its audience and voice . . . and the broad mass of people in our culture now consider mainstream analytical philosophy , just as they do much fine art, irrelevant to the world in which they live." Fine art, at least, has Robert Hughes; who is his equivalent in phUosophy? University of CanterburyMark Stocker Through the Shattering Glass: Cervantes and the Self-Made World, by Nicholas Spadaccini and Jenaro Talens; 224 pp. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993, $16.95. This book is a collection and English translation of essays the authors have previously published as introductions to editions of Cervantes's works or as individual articles. The essays—dealing with Cervantes's poetry, theater, and narrative—have been retouched to provide a focus on the dual but closely related images of the "shattering glass" and the "self-made world." Although the authors' explanation of the choice of these metaphors and their meaning is rather long, I think it should be quoted in full because it contains the assumptions that underlie the whole book: "First, there is the idea that in Cervantes 's work an open rupture operates between the classical rhetorical universe that it claims to assume and the specular metaphor that serves as an epistemologica ! foundation: art as an imitation of life and nature. Indeed, in Cervantine writings the writer's task is not to return to the so-called préexistent images of the real. If, as in the subsequent Stendhalian metaphor, a mirror exists that simulates walking through the path, it is never the world that is reflected in the mirror. This is so because in real life there are human beings rather than characters, fragments rather than totalities. Thus, only images and fragments can appear on the mirror's surface. The transformation of the image of a human being into a character presupposes an act of interpretation: we have to give meaning to what is nothing but a presence. In the same way, the idea of a totality, that is to say, of an interconnected whole, results from the 392Philosophy and Literature creation of a hypothesis for articulating fragments. Thus the world, as a structured organism, exists as a coroUary of said reflection; it is the very mirror that, feigning reproduction, constructs the patii. Consequendy, the latter does not come to us as a fact a priori but as the result of an observation, that is, an interpretation or a construction. As such it is discursive and, therefore, analyzable in terms of discourse. The so-called realism that guides Cervantes's writing is not a way oírepresenting the world, but a manner ofshowing the system of relationships diat constitute it" (p. xiv). After several thoughtful readings, I have come to the conclusion that what Spadaccini and Talens are trying to tell us here is that Cervantes was more acutely aware than his predecessors that literature cannot truly represent reality but is instead always a personal and necessarily partial interpretation of reality. Meaning is not inherent in reality but is conferred upon it by the observer or, in this case, the writer. If that is indeed what they meant, why didn't they just say so? Even in the original Spanish, these essays were not user-friendly. Unfortunately , the English translation is so poor—not really English at all but a barbaric Spanglish—that it only increases the obfuscation. The translations of passages from Cervantes's own works are particularly deplorable. Consider the following passages from the Appendix to the Viaje del Parnaso: Where the Spanish says: "que todo poeta sea de blanda y de...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 391-393
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.