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376Philosophy and Literature institutionally sanctioned devotional uses of Christ's body. This provocative irony drives much of Beckwith's study. The final chapter studies these issues in The Book ofMargery Kempe. Kempe embodies many of the tensions and the tendencies that Beckwith has traced. As part of a social class "developing its own cultural insignia" Kempe "might have been a typical candidate for crucifixion piety." And for her, Christ's body is "open enough to let her in, porous to her and intimate with her; [and at the same time] closed enough to make it a special privilege that she should be included" (p. 111). A short conclusion reviews the implications of this "materialist study" of the images of Christ's body and the struggle over "sacrality" as catholicity and protestantism "play out their tropes and struggle for cultural capital" (p. 117). Beckwith's notes are almost as long as her text, and the twenty pages ofworks cited and fifteen page index make the book a fine resource on Christological imagery. The prose, though at times laden with quotations and distracting theoretical paradigms, nonetheless constructs an argument which will inspire us to reimage the relations between individuals and institutions tearing at Christ's body in late medieval pious texts. California State University, Los AngelesMichael Calabrese With Borges on an Ordinary Evening in Buenos Aires: A Memoir, by Willis Barnstone; 184 pp. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1993, $25.95. It is now eight years sinceJorge Luis Borges—quirky sage, serious poet, and impish verbal trickster—died in Geneva, and became, as W. H. Auden said of Yeats, his admirers. One of the most fervent of his admirers was Willis Barnstone, who as translator, impresario, and friend to the blind Argentinean littérateur during the last third of his life, is eminently qualified to write this whimsical and freewheeling memoir. Barnstone's thesis, if that is not too weighty a word, is stated in the moving coda of the book: "There is a well-documented tradition of the sage whose work is spoken. . . . Our record of these sages is largely from others who recorded with the instruments of time: memory and the hands of scribes" (p. 185). Barnstone offers his own credentials as a handily clear-minded scribe, who moreover is progenitor and participant too: increasingly Borges's "new medium was the charla, the modern dialectic. In conversation with questioning colleagues and audiences he created a public testament for our time" (p. 185) . This memoir, then, purports to bejust such a public testament. Through the course of eleven relaxed, discursive chapters, Barnstone restages in dialogue form a series of highly profitable meetings in Argentina and the States with his Reviews377 subject—profitable, in the sense that the discussions offer Borges's views on a variety of absorbing topics. These include his feelings about authors past and present, his obsession with death and eternity, and his responses—puzzled, wry, and ultimately delighted—to the "immense attention" of his many international admirers (p. 164). Most readers will find Borges's supposed reflections on his poetic craft, its themes and its strategies, of chief interest. Imagining himself, a blind writer, as "between dream and waking," Borges "longed to explore the metaphysics of dream and nightmare, or the secular ecstasy of otherness" (p. 4) . He frankly used previous writers to figure himself as that other, reinventing himself in his poetry—Spinoza, Whitman, Descartes, Kafka—and much of the conversations in the book concern these favored wordsmiths. His lightly held grasp of his own sentiency, at the intersection of many languages (Jorge Luis Borges was nothing if not a literary citizen of the world) , flavors these wry, often aphoristic observations. Throughout, Willis Barnstone is on hand to prompt, cajole—and sometimes even to cap the great man. At the same time, Borges's scribe places these encounters within a vital, informing context, historic as well as geographic. Asserting that Borges "was the center of the Argentinean experience" during the turmoil of the late 1970s and early '80s, our scribe traces with subtle precision that fraught line the writer walks in a society ruptured by social and political upheaval. Among the less literary controversies about Borges that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 376-377
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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