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410Philosophy and Literature logical and psychological claims are embodied in the narrative structure of the Meditations. There are useful discussions of Humean reactions to Cartesian views, and Kantian reactions to Humean skepticism. Bergson's criticisms of Kant and his own positive account of time, memory, and the self—notably his idea that "eternity is not the ultimate reality underlying time but an unreal abstraction hanging over it" (p. 98)—serve as an introduction to Nietzsche's conception of eternal return (chapter 3). According to Lloyd, that conception "is not an edifying injunction to a transcendent will as to what kinds of thing are worthy of its choice, but rather a perception of the weight of eternity in the midst of transience" (pp. 110-11). Nietzsche's affirmation of eternal return "is an affirmation of the present, a refusal to let it drain away in the hope of a better future or a release from present suffering" (p. 118). Lloyd rightly notes Nietzsche's sense of the effects of belief in eternal return on one's perceptions of time and the relations between past, present, and future. Lloyd wisely turns to "literary" figures in the second half of the book—to Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and to Virginia Woolfs novels. She does a fine job of showing both that these authors have sophisticated psychological/ epistemic views about time, memory, and self-consciousness, and that there is a close congruence between those views and the literary structure of the narratives in which they are expressed. These points are not new, ofcourse; but Lloyd's story is clearly told and persuasively tied to the more straightforwardly "philosophical" earlier chapters. To my mind the most useful dimension of Lloyd's book is the suggested connection between the experience of grief and reflection on time. She uses Augustine, Proust, and Woolf to particularly good effect here. And the most devastating components of grief—the gnawing emptiness and sense of irretrievable loss, the futility of all attempts to undo or relive the past—are clearly spurs to hard thinking about the nature of being in time. Springfield, Va.Peter Losin The Family Idiot: Gustave Flaubert, 1821-1857, Volume 5, by Jean-Paul Sartre; translated by Carol Cosman; 621 pp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993, $47.50. At a time when tin-horn local politics diminish the scope of critical writing, Sartre's entanglement with the career of Flaubert seems something gargantuan and opaque riding the horizon of Goya. Except that Sartre's capacious inquiry, which stret^s Flaubert hither and yonder to question the perplexed responsi- Reviews41 1 bility of the modern (post-Romantic) writer in society, makes Sartre more like a character in a Thomas Bernhard novel who pursues a scholarly project with a fanatical rigor that itself becomes a distracted struggle of metaphysical proportion . This, the fifth and final volume of TL· Family Idiot, originally published as volume three (books one and two) , struggles to distance itself from previous volumes by looking at the objective sphere of Flaubert's writing, i.e., its institutional matrix of production and reception. But Sartre's first and abiding concern is Flaubert's choice of failure in a culture which honors bourgeois professionalism. Thus the analysis remains existential, as it must if Sartre is to describe rigorously the full force of the literary imperative, the inner command to write at all costs, at the level of "personal singularity." The writer who truly obeys this imperative, who chooses to let himself be commanded by it, Sartre says, "does not know, literally, what he is doing" because his conduct offailure— the writing life—becomes a "permanent denunciation of the real" (p. 158). Yet in these pages Sartre's preoccupation with Flaubert's failure does doubleup objectively into a study of the fascination of the French public with Flaubert's misanthropy, which is vicariously an encounter with its own sense of collective failure and self-contempt following the "catastrophe" which befell the Second Republic in 1848. A new aesthetic aristocracy developed. Flaubert won popularity not in spite of but because of his aesthetic nihilism. Sartre, promulgator of political engagement, is drawn into a reception study concerning the charisma...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 410-412
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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