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Reviews213 the status of and challenges facing the individual" of TL· Blithedaie Romance again reveals the way "private anxieties register public tensions" (pp. 106, 102). And in TL· Marble Faun, "Hawthorne turns to die question of how sympathy may finally be achieved, how a manifold rhetoric of secrecy shapes a reader's response" (p. 148). This convincing book does even more and does it well, but I return to the larger questions with which I began. Interestingly, while considering the decline of popularity of what was once Hawthorne's most read book, TL· Marble Faun, Hutner speculates that "the response Hawthorne wants is but historically conditioned , even as he conceives of it as timeless and transcultural" (p. 150). Just as Tompkins fails to explain away Hawthorne's enduring reputation, instead assuming "that criticism creates American literature in its own image" (p. 199), Hutner looks squarely at the issue from the other side and apparendy does not see it. Every writer should consider three questions: why, how, and so what1? If Tompkins misses the how, her so what more than makes up for it. Hutner's why and how are just brilliant. Two out of three is well above average. Recommend this good book to your library. Buy it. For a variety of reasons, many of them illuminated by Secrets and Sympathy, Hawthorne remains central to our literature and to our culture, because he inspires this sort of "interest and passion." If the author also gets tenure and a promotion, so much the better. Central Missouri State UniversityMark Johnson Poetry with a Purpose: Biblical Poetics and Interpretation, by Harold Fisch; xi & 205 pp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988, $37.50. Over the last several years a number of books have been written on the literary dimensions of the Bible. Harold Fisch's new book demonstrates once again that the literary approach to the Bible illuminates aspects of the text that traditional biblical scholarship overlooks. Fisch chooses a wide range ofdifferent types of texts in the Hebrew Bible including selections from Esther, Isaiah, Job, Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, Song ofSongs, Psalms, Hosea, and Ecclesiastes. In order to assist those readers not fluent in Biblical Hebrew, Fisch transliterates many of the significant Hebrew word plays into English. Fisch indicates that many critics have spent a good deal of time trying to impose certain categories on various books or passages within the Hebrew Bible. Psalms are poetry, Job is tragedy, Esther is a novel. His major argument is that although the Bible often employs literary forms it has a tendency to question 214Philosophy and Literature their adequacy and usefulness. "The text summons die reader to respond in an accustomed literary fashion to a familiar form but at the same time undermines that response. The forms will be there but the text will encourage the reader to call them into question" (p. 5). Fisch argues persuasively that the Bible uses these forms in order to break them open and show diatlanguage, especially religious language, transcends itself. "If the Bible points to poetic imagery as in a way the only path of knowledge, it also points just as surely to the limits of art, the impotence of poetry" (p. 101). Unlike poetry which is normally unconnected to history and politics, the poetry within the Bible is controlled by die idea of covenant and it uses a type of language that Fisch refers to as "covenantal discourse." Fisch uses the concept of covenant in order to understand the purpose of biblical poetry. "The poem is the scene of encounter. More than a scene it is, through its impacted language, die indispensable instrumentality for making encounter possible" (p. 124). In the Bible poetry becomes joined to the world in a way that is often lacking in other types of poetry. Here word and world act upon each other in a dynamic fashion. This investigation into the literary technique of the Bible is very insightful and provocative. It also has its weaknesses. Fisch's discussion, or should I say, dismissal ofthe traditional mediods used by biblical critics, is wholly inadequate. He notes that traditional scholarship has been so eager to repair, edit, dissect, and/or rearrange the text of the Bible that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 213-214
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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