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188Philosophy and Literature the naked and stricken hero, sleeping in the forest, by a scar on his face, "the inscription of previous feats of arms on his flesh" (p. 81). Vance affirms that Chrétien found models for his writing in the trivium but, unlike most critics, focuses on grammar and logic rather than on rhetoric. Yvain differs from Calogrenant in that the latter merely recounts his story while the courtly hero reworks and perfects it. Chretien's interest in logic is shown when, at the beginning oiErec etEnide, Guenevere and Gawain discuss die significance ofYder's approach and, in Yvain, by Laudine's internal debate and by the poet's musings about Yvain and Gawain both loving and hating as they unwittingly fight each other. The argument between Reason and Love as Lancelot hesitates to mount the cart, I would add, points to the same kind of influence. A discussion of topical dieory as found in Boethius takes up a great deal of room in chapter four, and chapter five is devoted to showing how the first part of Yvain, ou h chevalier au lion can be read as an illustration of Abelard's proposition "Si est homo, est animal" (If it is human, it is an animal). As for the transition of the hero of this romance from man-beast to lion-knight, Vance underlines the importance of grasping the several meanings associated with the lion's animality and concludes with a discourse on its totemic, or "heraldic" sense. Chrétien does say the lion actually figures on Yvain's shield in this romance , but Vance believes the beast functions as a heraldic emblem anyway in that, even though an arbitrary device, it identifies its bearer as belonging to a specific social group (the high aristocracy). Vance writes with great enthusiasm—about the passage, for example, where Arthurbestows an emerald scepter on Erec: "This is surely one ofthe highpoints ofwhat has often been called twelfth-century humanism, and it is also a moment of precocious harmony between fundamentally distinct trends in Western culture , Aristotelian rationalism and neoplatonic mysticism" (p. 40)—and he has a flair for phrases that excite amazement or wonder. Though some of these pronouncements do not bear scrutiny, From Topic to Tale is a stimulating book with much useful information of interest to all medievalists. Pennsylvania State UniversityGerard J. Brault Tragedy and Theory: The Problem ofConflict Since Aristotle, by Michelle Gellrich; xiv & 293 pp. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988, $29.50. In her introduction Gellrich claims that Aristode's Poetics aims to neutralize conflict in tragedy; it is not until Hegel's Vorlesungen über die Asüietik that tragic Reviews189 conflict is foregrounded; both processes, and others in between, involve the exclusion of refractory evidence. Chapter one probes the Hegelian position, with a useful summary of background material on Kollision from works other than the Vorlesungen, and demonstrates how Hegel's very model, Sophocles' Antigone, resists the binary structure that Hegel imposes upon it: especially problematic are Antigone's ambivalence as a defender of the family and Creon's as defender of the state. The second chapter puts the "non-agonistic" thrust of the Poetics into the context of Aristode's concept of spoudaiotës, "goodness," "seriousness," and of his strictures against random contingency. Gellrich argues that as a consequence of his stance on these matters Aristode is blinded to the conflicts of tragedy. She next turns to Renaissance and Neoclassical theory, analyzes its didacticism, and finds it an heir to Aristode in its exclusion of "subversive" conflict from tragedy. Practice is again seen to contradict theory, while a Corneille dismanües conflict in plays like his own Oreste. Chapter four discusses Kant and Schiller on the sublime and points to the stress they lay on human will in facing conflict nobly. Gellrich then shows how Kantian thought on the exclusivity of free will and external constraint persists in modern criticism of tragedy, another template which in this case masks the multilayeredness of human motivation in Greek tragedy especially. The problem is that the book's thesis and structure are based on a false opposition. Whatever other theorists thought, Aristode did not attempt to exclude the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 188-190
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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