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364Philosophy and Literature literary critic. However, his selection of poems, and indeed his choice of poets, seems somewhat arbitrary. There is no explanation for the emphasis his book places on Coleridge, SheUey, and Byron, but it is hardly self-evident that this is the most appropriate trio for the purpose. Coleridge of course is inevitable and SheUey is certainly comprehensible. Byron's inclusion, on die odier hand, is puzzling, especiaUy insofar as the main diesis of the Byron section is uiat Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is "the romance of die first existential hero in English literature" (p. 185). Whedier or not diis is true — it strikes me as both true and banal — it seems tangential to an essay on German idealism and English romantic poetry, even ifthe existentialism is brought in by way ofKierkegaard. In any event, Wordsworth and Keats might have suited the book better man Byron. As with the choice ofpoets, there is a problem regarding the selection ofpoems. We are given a quite workmanlike reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner but "Kubla Khan" is barely mentioned, although one might suppose Kubla's pleasure-dome decreeing activities would have some relevance to philosophical idealism. Then I would gladly have traded some or aU of die radier dreary chapter on Alastor for a few words on SheUey's Ode to the West Wind, which if nodiing else is an examination of die relationship between a finite human voice and die apparendy boundless world of perception uiat it expresses. In omitting this great ode from the discussion entirely, Kipperman does not merely fail to rise to die occasion; he virtuaUy ignores die occasion. One final matter, less than a major criticism but more than a quibble. Kipperman 's lenguiy description ofKant's first Critique is lucid and sound; nevertheless, I think he misses an opportunity to add depth to his book by declining to address "the many scholarly and critical issues stiU being debated" concerning die Transcendental Deduction of die Categories (p. 48), by which I assume he has in mind the controversy provoked initiaUy by P. F. Strawson's accusation of incoherence in Kant's argument. Since much of Kipperman's strategy in relating Kantian epistemology to romantic poetry relies on this point in particular, I cannot see how his work would have but benefited from some insight into the status oí the Deductions among contemporary phüosophers. Unfversity of CanterburyKenneth Marc Harris Sartre's Existential Biographies, by Michael Scriven; ? & 152 pp. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984, $21.95. Scriven's little book (a mere 125 pages of text) is in sharp contrast widi Sartre's own bulimia of words when it comes to writing phUosophical essays (L'être et le néant, 700 pages; Critique de h raison dialectique, 1400 pages) or Reviews365 biographies (Saint Genet, comédien et martyr, 700 pages; L'idiot de hfamille, 2800 pages!). And the clarity of its developments wül be a welcome relieffor many of those who have struggled with the circumvolutions of Sartre's prose, even for some of his zealots. Michael Scriven, Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Bath, deals with Sartre's six major biographical works: Baudelaire, Saint Genet, comédien et martyr, Mallarmé, Le Tintara, Les mots, and L'idiot de lafamille. After examining the social mydi of Literature (with a capital "L") on die verge of disintegration and the resulting contradictions into which Sartre is tiirown around 1940, Scriven justifies die author's adoption of what he caUs "existential" biographies as a substitute for other literary genres. The central part of his essay dien focuses on Sartre's biographical project itself, showing die evolution from the fundamentaUy negative vision ofBaudelaire to the highly sophisticated attractive-repulsive analysis of Flaubert, via die whoUy empadiic study of Genet. The last part of Scriven's conclusion, which is more dian an academic exercise, emphasizes the necessary freedom of approach to texts, the coUaboration between writer and reader, and the interesting concept ofactive reproduction ofliterature Ulustrated by Sartre's rewriting of traditional biographies. This essay is at the same time a work ofenthusiasm and disappointment. The enuiusiasm is for a Marxist approach to literature which...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 364-366
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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