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Reviews355 La Fontaine dealing with superstition. In die concluding chapter (pp. 145-55) De Ley reviews his principal findings and contends that the investigation he has carried out dirough a series of comparative textual analyses "may have significant general application," so diat what he has discovered in a relatively small number ofcases "may weU be characteristic of the movement of French inteUect between 1557 and 1719 and beyond" (p. 148). Noneuieless, being aware that every text "is a discrete textual artifact," he refrains from proclaiming a grand but artificial diachronic syndiesis (p. 154). From a literary critic's perspective, die book's foremost merit is its patient, peUucid elaboration of a set of arguments rooted in close readings. For instance, De Ley's examination of two apparendy simUar sixteenui-century poems leads him to detect an important shift: ". . . words of an epistemologicaUy categorizing sort" are much more prevalent in die Ronsard sonnet dian in die earlier one by Du BeUay (p. 20). De Ley precisely appraises contrastive epistemologica! modes in L'Astrie before linking such preoccupations in Honoré d'Urfé's pastoral romance to theories ofKuhn, Piaget, and Foucault. Despite simUarities between die plays of Auvray (1609) and Racine (1677), De Ley notes diat Auvray's "metaphors . . . group themselves into a relatively limited number of categories" locked within the text, whereas the Racinian metaphors "relate to die plot or to other play themes through a preselected key, the legend of Phaedra's ancestors or die legend of the Minotaur" (pp. 127, 128). The discussion of two poems by La Fontaine ("L'Astrologue qui se laisse tomber dans un puits" and "Un Animal dans la lune") sheds light on a much-observed phenomenon: structural differences between die Fables of 1668 and those of 1678-79. Frequent cross-references remind die reader that issues raised in die various chapters continue to be relevant beyond their immediate context. Some of Professor De Ley's dieoretical suppositions are likely to prove controversial . The most provocative hypouieses advanced in his fine study certainly deserve to be tested further. Ohio UniversityRichard Danner Ineffability: Naming the Unnamablefrom Dante to Beckett, edited by Peter S. Hawkins and Anne Howland Schotter; ? & 202 pp. New York: AMS Press, 1984, $32.50. How does one write about what is beyond language? This central question serves as die focus for this coUection of fourteen essays on various literary figures. The contributions are arranged chronologicaUy, spanning the period 356Philosophy and Literature from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, and taken togedier they offer something of a taxonomy of literary sUence. For a book this slim to deal widi so formidable a topic (and exclusively with major texts) is to court disaster: die several chapters might easüy become redundant on die one hand or die book diffuse on die odier. Instead, the contributors to this book maintain a nice balance between defining the positions unique to dieir several authors, whUe extending the book's continuing discussion of die nature of die ineffable. This book, in brief, is a delight to read and, especiaUy because of die surprising coherence diat emerges from the entire coUection, is best read as a whole. In the first of two essays on fourteenth-century poets, Peter Hawkins discusses Dante's perception of die inadequacy oflanguage to express his Paradisal vision and the rhetorical strategies to which diis leads him. Anne Schotter, in her essay on Pearl, shows diat language in diat poem is not only insufficient, but irrelevant (witness the salvation of an infans). In two of die later essays, WUliam ShuUenberger discusses Wordsworth's yearning for die sublime that can be expressed only in a language which inadequately displaces immediacy of vision widi interpretive reaction, while Stuart Peterfreund reveals what is in effect SheUey's contrasting view of the ineffable, perceived and expressed in a joy which "draws the speaker closer to his object rather than distancing him from it." These latter two chapters also suggest somediing of this volume's surprising coherence. If Wordsworth's frustration about die discontinuity between vision and language begs comparison with Dante's similar uneasiness, SheUey's attitude toward the ineffable is specificaUy contrasted in Peterfreund's essay with Dante's...


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pp. 355-357
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