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366Philosophy and Literature shortcomings, this monograph should be seen as a very useful and clear summary of an essential part of Sartre's literary production. University of AucklandPierre Petit Philosophy Beside Itself: On Deconstruction and Modernism , by Stephen W. MelviUe; xxix & 188 pp. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986, $25.00 cloth, $10.95 paper. The aim of MelviUe's book is to explain the significance ofDerrida's work for literary criticism. He argues uiat literary criticism has superseded phUosophy and has replaced die latter's traditional concerns with establishing die grounds of knowledge with a mode of being diat accepts die indeterminabUity of truth and self along with the discontinuities of history. FoUowing Stanley CaveU, MelviUe says we should replace phUosophy's demands for knowledge with the open process of acknowledgment, a way of tiiinking that "figures somewhere between knowledge and recognition" (p. 27). Acknowledging is a way ofmaking distinctions without asserting that these distinctions have any trudi value — they are stricdy pragmatic. MelviUe finds in CaveU's notion an alternative to epistemology diat does not abandon die concepts of self and perception to radical indeterminancy. If knowledge is not possible, at least we can acknowledge certain facts about community and history. MelviUe's recasting of deconstruction in terms derived from CaveU raises serious questions about his eclectic metiiod. He is intent upon modifying deconstruction, as can be seen when he turns to Clement Greenberg's and Michael Fried's concepts of modernism. He finds in the distinctions Greenberg and Fried make between pure and impure art a desire to maintain die autonomy of modern painting and preserve it from the impurities of theatricality . He then argues uiat diese terms do not exclude one anodier but are bound together in a condition of mutual dependency. The recognition that theory requires die extra-aesdietic term "uieatricality" to generate a history of die aesthetic transforms a linear concept of history into one traversed by disruption and repetition. MelviUe caUs diis the "structure of 'radical self-knowledge'": "such criticism is different from either knowledge of the self in its inmost essence on die one hand, or die utter dissolution of die self on die odier" (p. 16). Like acknowledgment, radical self-criticism is a conservative notion that mediates between a naive positivism and a radical skepticism: "'Self-criticism' can be 'radical' only if it genuinely places its self at stake and holds itself in diis condition of being at stake, assuming neidier the positive guarantee of tiiat selfs in- Reviews367 violable autonomy nor die negative guarantee of its nonexistence" (p. 16). MelviUe's "radical self-criticism" is not so radical after aU; it is the famUiar principle , derived from Kant, uiat criticism must be constituted as a self-reflexive system wherein the self that criticizes is also the object of criticism. BuUding upon the concepts of acknowledgment, criticism, and history established in die first chapter, Melville proceeds to examine die relation ofDerrida 's diought to diat ofHegel, Heidegger, BataUle, and Lacan. He is at his best in considering the complex relationship between psychoanalysis and deconstruction . His comments on Maria Torek's and Nicolas Abraham's notion oianasémie are particularly valuable, but his readings of Hegel and Heidegger are largely derivative of Derrida's and lack die rigor one rightfuUy expects from someone who claims Derrida for his inspiration. His discussion of Hegel's prefaces not only echoes Derrida's "Hors livre," but his comments are so general they could be applied to any preface. When he claims tiiat Heidegger is the "last 'epistemologica! realist,'" one wonders if he is acquainted with phenomenology. His chapter on Paul de Man wUl do litde to dispel these doubts. He reads so carelessly that he attributes to de Man the very theory of aUegory he refuted in "The Rhetoric of Temporality." Radier dian insist "on die radical wididrawal of language from die world," as MelviUe claims, de Man argued diat aUegory recognizes die inescapable temporality of language. MelviUe's misreading of de Man reflects his desire to privUege modernism in a linear concept of tradition: "The work of criticism is . . . one that takes place cruciaUy in time, in complexes ofrupture and continuity widi its traditions" (p...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 366-367
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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