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Reviews217 brought into the vicinity of Camus, we get nimble comparisons showing where they separate and converge. We receive similar profit from the author's comparison of Swift and Conrad. I approached yet one more earnest discussion of Golding with a sinking heart, but found fresh insight, while at the same time enjoying some shady glee in noting that the religious nuances and hints of possible redemption in Golding tend to undermine the "dark epiphany" thesis. As to the weedy passages: when Professor Reilly refers to Swift's "nihilistic speculation," suggesting that "perhaps there is ultimately no selfat all, no central human core" (p. 93), I wonder if Swift is not being encrusted with the bitter accretions of history and of thought since his time. Gulliver is something of a chameleon, but does this negate the continuum of values that for Swift are not relative and that are bound to a definitive self in Gulliver and in us? A few pages later we are told that Swift wishes us "to act outside and after his text, to stop being the yahoos we are . . ." (p. 98), a strange expectation if none of us possesses a responsible, ongoing self. In the discussion of Orwell, Winston's abject surrender to Big Brother is seen as ineluctable and universal. Ifour fecklessness is like the migratory instinct of birds, how can we be said to be guilty of anything? Did Orwell intend the book as a terrible emetic to purge us of guilt? Again, we feel a similar uneasiness as in the discussion of Swift. If the self "has ceased to exist" (p. 113), what is the point of the cautionary residue of the novel, or of the moments that seem to suggest the validity residue of the novel, or of the moments that seem to suggest the validity of human ideals? In Reilly's depiction of Orwell there is nothing of a background against which guilt becomes visible—as it does when Saint Paul tells us that we are all worthless. The annoyance in this book is of a good sort, it agitates the reader into a struggle to set his own thoughts straight, and to read some of the texts again with more care. This profitable annoyance is helped by some excellent prose. The writing is not vapid with academic caution andjargon; this is lively, digestible prose. Whitman CollegeWalter E. Broman Stories ofReading: Subjectivity andLiterary Understanding, by Michael Steig, xvii & 261 pp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989, $32.50 cloth, $12.95 paper. Following Stanley Fish's lead in Is There a Text in This Class? Steig demonstrates how we can integrate teaching and research. Stories is Steig's response to what he discovered about the limits of a reader-response model: although students 218Philosophy and Literature found it "enlightening," diey made him wonder "what one could do widi material of the kind we had gathered among ourselves, or what any individual could do with his own responses" (p. 10). What he did was collect and publish his responses to (and, in some cases, his responses to students' responses to) WutheringHeights, TL· Wind in me Willows, Alice, David Copperfield, Mansfield Park, and Outside Over There—the latter being perhaps die most perspicacious essay on Maurice Sendak to date. In Part One, "Subjectivity and Interpretation," Steig masterfully sorts out the implications of various interpretive strategies articulated by E. D. Hirsch, Jonathan Culler, Stanley Fish, Jane Tompkins, J. Hillis Miller, Frederic Jameson, and David Bleich. The roll call of critics, in itself, gives a good sense of Steig's chiefconcern: that interpretation—to explain some semantic or semiotic structure about whose meaning there is a question—"is a pragmatic task motivated at a basic psychosomatic level by die curiosity and anxiety that uncertainty creates" (p. 17). Steig defdy burls his way through a logjam of problems attending readeroriented criticism in Part One, and yet I must question his method for getting down stream in Part Two, "Self-Discovery and Literary Understanding." Although Steig admits that because his study "focuses on the process of reading by real readers, its concerns are unavoidably personal, and much of it is cast in autobiographical terms" (p. xiii), what is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 217-219
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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