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178Philosophy and Literature Kelly's bibliography shows that he is widely read in Rousseau studies, but he could have benefited from Lester Crocker's biography of Rousseau as well as his articles on "the hidden hand" in Emile, La Nouvelle Hélmse, and the Contrat Social. For a scholar in French literature and the history of ideas, it is annoying to have all the quotations translated into English, and there are a few howlers that make Rousseau look ridiculous. But these are minor complaints, and on the whole anyone interested in Rousseau, either as a person or as a thinker, will find Kelly's interpretation provocative and well worth reading. Swarthmore CollegeJean A. Perkins Marxism and Literary History, by John Frow; ix & 275 pp. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986, $15.95 paper. John Frow's Marxism and Literary History reconsiders materialist criticism through readings of classical Marxism, structuralism, Russian Formalism, and deconstruction. The author's objective is to "theorize the concepts of system and history ... as part ofa semiotically oriented intervention in cultural politics" (p. vii). Frow's "semiotic intervention" proposes to politicize literary discourse by examining its institutional relation to extra-literary discourses, and to do so without appeal to ontological and epistemológica! vocabularies for its descriptive authority. For Frow, extra-literary discourses constitute the "limits" of what we experience as literary discourse, even as literary discourse contributes materially to the reconfiguration of those limits. The force of his presentation relies on his ability to reinvent die vocabularies of Marxists and formalists in the service of an almost Foucauldian conception of discourse as a form of social power. Frow moves from a discussion of Lukács—whose "central weakness" is a failure to address the problem ofmediation (p. 1 1)—to discussions ofAlthusser, Machery, and Eagleton; his readings of representational Marxisms encourage us to rethink ideology hot in ontological terms, but instead as a semiotic state of discourse (p. 61). Following discussions of Bakhtin, Foucault, Pêcheux, and Halliday, the author criticizes the aestheticism ofRussian Formalism (Sklovskij, Tynjanov) and the Prague Linguistic Circle (Jakobson, Mukarovsky) while nonetheless praising both as pseudo-historicist alternatives to New Criticism. He suggests that formalism and historicism are not entirely incompatible in their objectives, and that the vocabulary of formalism—where it urges upon us the need for concepts such as "automaticization" and "de-familiarization"— needs to be revised as a historicist rhetoric. Reviews179 In chapter five Frow discusses how technologies change semiotic forms in capitalist society, and argues against the organic self-sufficiency of literary change. He writes that "a theory of literary evolution . . . should move away from thinking in terms of the direcdy meaningful nature of cultural material, and seek to understand, historically and concretely, the mediations through which it both corresponds and fails to correspond to more general structures of social development" (p. 104). Brecht, Benjamin, Kubler, Jauss, Zirmunskij, Wellek, Kristeva, Baudrillard, and Attali provide Frow with points ofdeparture for his discussion. Chapters six and seven address "intertextuality" and "text and system"; these sections discuss the reception and production of literature in social semiotic terms. The author examines Petronius, DeLiIIo, Ludlum, Hölderlin, Dickens, Homer, and, most provocatively, the novelist Frank Hardy, whose historical reception shows how literary discourse, extra-literary discourse, and political interests are constitutive of each other. Finally, Frow examines Foucault and Derrida on Descartes, and suggests, in a discussion of Derrida's "Le Parergon," that readers "undertake a negative revalorization by unframing [a text's official value], appropriating it in such a way as to make it subversive to its own legitimacy and so useful to class struggle" (p. 228). At his best, Frow advocates an oppositional pragmatics which could divest texts of their functional authority—that is, a pragmatics that would "release the text from its accretion of [socially] normative values" (p. 229). He thus describes textual criticism as microphysical resistance to cultural authority. He also prescribes the "extensions of the strategies and interests of literary analysis to nonaesthetic discursive domains: to legal discourse, scientific discourse, historiography , philosophy; to moral and religious discourses; and to everyday languages" (p. 235). His book is consequendy useful to people who wish to politicize art or, more radically, to redirect the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 178-179
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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