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Reviews349 tion of Montaigne's attitudes toward public affairs, looking forward to those fashioners of philosophical movements and political ideologies who also grappled with die problem of appearances and continued die dialectic generated in the Essays. Prominent among them, aldiough the connection is not made explicit , are the phenomenologists who helped shape the approach to literature characteristic of the Geneva critics. Readers ofthis sensitively written and carefully translated study wiU find little reference to current Montaigne scholarship and virtuaUy no mention of die names mat dominate recent literary dieory in France. These silences may be due to the fact that this book has been long in the making. Several of its chapters rework articles tiiat first appeared in journals as long ago as 1960. Nevertheless the specialist may find it unsettling, for example, to read about the tension between emptiness and plentitude in die Essays without finding a reference to Terence Cave's 77ie Comucopian Text (1979). In general, however, Starobinski's book is an enviable achievement, one diat invites all readers ofMontaigne to admire the courageous inteUectual journey diat produced die Essays. University of VirginiaMary B. McKinley Homer the Theologian: Neoplatonist Allegorical Readings and the Growth ofthe Epic Tradition, by Robert Lamberton ; xvi & 363 pp. Berkeley: University ofCalifornia Press, 1986, $40.00. "That lord of highest song, who soars like an eagle above die others": widi these words (Inferno 4.95-96) Dante pays tribute to a Homer whose Iliad and Odyssey he cannot have read. What, if anydiing beyond a name, did Homer mean to Dante? By tracing die development of a tradition of aUegorical interpretation of Homer and its transmission to western Europe even without die texts themselves, Robert Lamberton argues mat this interpretive tradition came to shape ideas of what poetry, and especially epic poetry, is, and therefore influenced Dante's enterprise in writing die Divine Comedy. Dante, however, is not die main focus here, but the culminating example of what, ultimately, is diis book's true subject: die reciprocal influence on each odier of texts and dieir interpretation. SkiUfuUy and clearly, Lamberton unfolds his complex history of allegorical reading motivated by the desires, singly or in combination, to exploit Homer's prestige and to defend Homer from criticism, pre-eminendy Plato's. He leads us from the roots of this tradition in Pythagoreanism (eventually mingled witii 350Philosophy and Literature Platonism) through the writers of the first two centuries A.D. to the Neoplatonists Plotinus and Porphyry, and then to Proclus's great synthesis. In this way he traces die evolution of an attitude that saw the surface meaning of Homer's text as a screen simultaneously disguising and pointing to the truth concerning the nature of the world and die fate of souls. Homeric narrative was dius reconcUed with Platonic myth, especiaUy the Myth of Er in die Republic. Along die way, Lamberton discusses the pagan and Christian perspectives on diis interpretive tradition and shows how an aUegorical exegesis ofscripture developed in parallel with it. One of the most interesting uiemes running dirough the book is the development of a notion of language, stemming from Plato's Cratylus, that provided a dieoretical framework for aUegorical reading. Anodier is die significance ofwriting commentaries, and the anticipation ofdie modern view ofcriticism as mediation between reader and text. Because of the nature ofthe evidence, the final, crucial stage in the argument — die link between die Neoplatonists and Dante — is somewhat speculative. The most that Lamberton can show in his final chapter is diat a tradition of reading associated with Homer's name was avaUable in Europe in Dante's time. But, as Lamberton says, it arrived in a Europe already familiar with a simUar mode of scriptural exegesis. Would not die latter have sufficed for Dante's ideas about aUegory? Yet though it is from one point of view unnecessary, Lamberton's diesis has the advantage of suggesting diat die Neoplatonist tradition offered Dante a connection between aUegory and epic poetry specificaUy. StUl, how is it valuable to know diese diings? On diis question die book's last twenty pages or so are not fuUy satisfactory. Lamberton admits diat his diesis wiU not affect our reading of die Divine...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 349-351
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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