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Reviews413 The insights along the way are rich and rewarding. The author has a proclivity for works that are open to Biblical allusions; in some cases, notably Eugénie Grandet and particularly in Les Gommes, such readings strike this reader as unconvincing, whereas they are very much in place in "Un Coeur simple," La Symphonie pastorale, and La Faute de l'abbé Mouret where the author masterfully demonstrates a convergence of religion, nature, and man. Nevertheless, this excellent study leaves a number of questions in the reader's mind. Why, for instance, is "Un Coeur simple" not treated as the "contemporary" chapter of a miniature Golden Legend that Flaubert clearly had in mind in writing the Trois Contes? That would have disposed of the silly wranglings concerning the parrot (whether it is satiric or not) which Professor Pasco had to traverse laboriously at the beginning of his chapter. The next chapter, on Antigone (Sophocles/Anouilh), needed to have a firmer grounding in a discussion of parody, which the introduction mentions in only one paragraph (along with allegory). Granted the book is about "allusion," nevertheless the more complex tangents of allusion, imitation, and irony demanded fuller discussion. It is hard to take Anouilh's fabrication entirely seriously as having any real connection with Sophocles; in other words, we would be more likely to respond to it on its more bathetic level if it had another title. A similar problem of a much more serious nature arises in Giraudoux's Electre (and also in Sartre's Les Mouches) which are not only parodies ofthe classical Electra plays in different ways but propose complexly (Giraudoux) and straightforwardly (Sartre) subversive world views. Why does Pasco not mention Henry James's Washington Square, which is such a fascinating variation on Eugénie Grandet? And finally, given Robbe-Grillet's nihilistic world perspective, is not a great deal of the book and its allusions to be regarded as a literary tease or a deliberate deception ofmuch skill, providing a special delight to the patient reader? Such questions are raised because the discussion of allusion is so well done in this study—and because literature, in the long run, is so elusive. Case Western Reserve UniversityWalter A. Strauss The Mutilating God: Authorship andAuthority in the Narrative of Conversion, by Gerald Peters; 178 pp. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993, $29.95. Gerald Peters sets forth "a genealogy of writing practices . . . , outlining how the idea of conversion has become an increasingly internalized phenomenon through a conception of self and world that is more and more differentiated" (pp. 8-9) . To accomplish this intriguing aim he relies heavily upon psychoanalytic insights of Freud and Lacan, as well as upon Northrop Frye's Viconian vision of three main phases in the development of writing (hieroglyphic or 414Philosophy and Literature "metaphoric," hieratic or "logocentric," and demotic or "descriptive"), while focusing upon texts ofdifferent genres by an impressively wide array of authors from the Western tradition: the Bible's Book of Acts (regarding St. Paul), St. Augustine's Confessions, Montaigne's "Of Repentance," Sade's "Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man," Rousseau's Confessions, De Quincey's Confessions ofan English Opium-Eater, Carlyle's SartorResartus,Joyce's A Portrait of tL·Artist as a YoungMan, Kafka's "In the Penal Colony," Rilke's DieAufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (translated in its first English edition as Journal ofMy Other Self) , and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Although Peters remarks that his "genealogy of the uses oí" conversion narrative is not intended as "a history of the idea of conversion" (p. 5), it is noteworthy that, as he well knows, the conceptualizing of conversion and the writing of a conversion narrative are often intimately interrelated. Among the texts he focuses upon, books 1-9 of Augustine's Confessions provide the most paradigmatic illustration of how the "idea" of conversion and the "use" of its narrative can be inseparable. However, by adapting Paul de Man's concept of autobiography as "not a genre or a mode at all but a 'figure of reading or of understanding that occurs, to some degree, in all texts,'" Peters argues for "a more expansive understanding of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 413-415
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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