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370Philosophy and Literature scene of the ego's self-reflections and self-representations, Narcissus, in order to transcend narcissism, must become the actor in the "theater of the other," familiarize himself "with the foreign and archaic language of the unconscious" (p. 127). But I would ask how this would be possible, since by definition the unconscious always remains the alien other of consciousness. Sybilline utterances abound in the closing pages of this book. I quote one representative sample: "Instead of falling through melancholy and the withering away of the body into Hades, when Narcissus consents to become a living body, he immediately brings death close to hand in an entirely different sense. Death lies within the spaces between the words of the textual subject; the nothingness of its dark obscurity inheres in the black letters on the page. Writing always contains within itself the skull" (p. 128). The reader hoping for enlightenment may legitimately wonder whether Kochhar-Lindgren does not in the end prove that Narcissus still lives on in the pages of this book, wherein an unregenerate solipsistic rhetoric gazes in fascination at itself. University of PittsburghJerome Schwartz Imperial Dryden: The Poetics ofAppropriation in SeventeenthCentury England, by David B. Kramer; 192 pp. University of Georgia Press, 1994, $40.00. David Kramer's analysis of the stages of Dryden's career reveals an engaging figure of both opportunism and originality, willing to conflate the success of British Imperialism with his own literary goals, yet also acute enough to acknowledge the effects of his own political disempowerment. Employing misquotation, "ventriloquism" (i.e., a sttategy of inventing another's words so that one's own thoughts seem to emerge from the other's mouth), and plagiarism, Dryden pillaged the works of Corneille and others. While wellknown poets and dramatists were controlled through "projection of voice . . . those whom Dryden had little reason to fear could be assaulted in broad daylight, robbed of their poetic treasures on the open road . . ." (p. 62). Kramer argues that Dryden perceived such poetic piracy as an "aggressive— and, in Dryden's view, masculine—mode of acquiring the poetic or critical goods ofothers" (p. 5) . After 1688, however, there is a shift in Dryden's attitude toward his own work and the work of others, a shift that takes on dimensions of a gendered perception of social, political, and poetic power. "Like Tiresias, his poetic persona changes from male to female and back again; rather than seeking to seize all poetry for himself, he expresses the wish to be seized, entered into, impregnated by the spirits of his great predecessors. . . . Dryden's rhetoric of defeat is, not coincidentally, the rhetoric of the great translator" (p. 5). Reviews371 Kramer shows that the transformation in Dryden's identification from Imperialist to Colonized is not unprecedented. "Dryden creates a fable that operates on the premise that foreign cultures possess classes of knowledge that Europeans or the English lack. Moreover, Dryden's fable of foreign wealth shows that these cultures may produce individuals who possess virtues their conquerors lack . . ." (p. 67) . While Dryden consistently positions himself as "England" during his Imperial phase, he is a conqueror who, like Cortés, is perceptive enough about the limits of imperial ambition to weep at the feet of his prisoner (but retaining Montezuma's gold, nonetheless). The poet may depict imperial activity "with a light that chills as it illuminates" at this stage of his career; nonetheless, he "almost always depicts the expansionist urge ... in terms of the characteristically male vocabulary of energy, vigor, glory, heroism, and poetic splendor" (p. 79). All this changes after the Revolution of 1688, when Dryden's party is defeated. Suddenly, Dryden "represents himself as identifying with individuals who are denied power and authority . . . from confident male to vulnerable neuter, privileged heir to belated mediocrity, laureled conqueror to bitter subject . . . from rapacious conqueror of the poetic past to self-abnegating translator" (p. 117). It is the nature of this transformation, Kramer argues, that has been largely misunderstood. Too often in the recent critical past, Dryden's post-imperial strategies of "indirection" have been dismissed as "reflections of the low taste of a debauched age." In fact, Kramer suggests that Dryden was...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 370-371
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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