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Reviews379 Nietzsche and various seminal figures in the English literary tradition. This is not to say that Magnus, Stewart, and Mileur assert "influences" on Nietzsche: they demonstrate, most effectively in some cases, that great literature embodies the complex constructs that Nietzsche is after—that Wordsworth's "Resolution and Independence," say, or Browning's "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," reveal Eternal Recurrence, or an authorial Will to Power, to be the complex writerly strategies they are. And yet, there are problems with this cheerfully postmodern mode of exegesis. Try and textualize as one might, there are awkward problems for conduct contained in Nietzsche's writings—for example, his characterization of women is more (ethically) disturbing than our authors' rather blithe rhetorical concerns allow—and these problems remain after reading this study. To represent epistemology as literary epiphany reduces Nietzsche's claims to being a philosopher, in the sense of one who engages in serious, sustained attention to the problems of living—outside the text. Magnus, Steward, and Mileur may have given us a Nietzsche who is a marvelous writer—the only begetter of, say, Foucault and Derrida—but they may just have lost us a powerful agent who ventures beyond writing. And that would be a pity. University of PretoriaGuy Willoughby Metaphors ofGenre: TheRole ofAnalogies in Genre Theory, by David Fishelov; ? & 175 pp. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, $32.50. David Fishelov's "metaphors of genre" conceive literary genres as biological species, families, social institutions, and speech acts. Each metaphor, he shows, has influenced genre theories for good and ill and remains a fruitful hypothesis for further empirical inquiry. Though he admires his structuralist forebears, Fishelov eschews their systematic ambitions and professes instead an eclectic empiricist pluralism. He dismisses the "deconstructivist school" (p. 13) along with the "metaphysical and psychoanalytical" (p. 121 n.5). As he says, "my basic attitude is to caution against impetuous generalizations" (p. 151). He rarely commits such generalizations himself, except perhaps in the concluding remark that preserves his pluralism from a dialectical subsumption of some analogies by others: "We can now ask whether any of the four [analogies] deserves to be privileged. The answer is no. Each can shed some light on some of the diverse problems of literary genres, and none can suppL·^ or displace the others" (p. 156; italics mine). That, I should think, remains to be seen. Still, within the terms he sets for himself, Fishelov does make each analogy 380Philosophy and Literature "shed some light on the diverse problems of literary genres." He rehabilitates the discredited metaphor ofgenres as biological species, distinguishing it from the view of genres as biological individuals that follow the life cycle birth to death. Reinfusing this metaphor, as he does each of the others, with new information about its source domain that redirects inquiry into its target domain, Fishelov turns to Steven Jay Gould's account of Darwin to theorize "generic survival and generic productivity" (p. 37) and to Ernst Meyer's allopatric theory to rethink the relations between dominant and marginal genres. Fishelov criticizes the fashionable Wittgensteinian metaphor of genres as families. He complains that genre theorists "instead of demonstrating the rich network of relations that in fact exists among members ofa 'literary family' . . . have chosen to isolate the 'negative aspect' of the family resemblance, namely, the statement that there is no single trait shared by all members" (p. 61). He offers the notions of the prototypical family member, the ambivalent relation between child and parent, and the changing shape of the modern family as unexplored positive aspects. Fishelov recognizes that his last two "metaphors of genre," social institutions and speech acts, may seem to be literal defining categories rather than analogical models of genres, but he insists upon working across the boundary between sociology and poetics instead of pursuing the Bakhtin school hypothesis of a sociological poetics. Fishelov examines conventions and roles as social institutions especially relevant to drama. He tries to distinguish theories that describe "literary genres as complex forms of ordinary speech acts" from those that see literary genres "as imitations of speech acts" (p. 121). He does not, however, explore the possibility that the latter might be a special case...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 379-380
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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