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222Philosophy and Literature fragmentational strategies. "Although the outcome ... of Montalte's theatrical and picaresque effort is never in doubt," MacKenzie very apdy observes, "Pascal takes his readers through the choreography of his agent's analyses in such a way that they are encouraged to participate in the discovery process" (p. 64). MacKenzie's final chapter demonstrates the extent to which his approach to the Provinciales is firmly grounded in an understanding of Pascal's neoAugustinian theology. Pascal, he argues, does not simply view Molinist disruptions of language as an abstract intellectual problem. For the future apologist of Christianity, they represent a concerted assault on the truth, a break with the absolute authority of Scripture and tradition. As MacKenzie sees it, Pascal seeks ultimately to rehabilitate the notion that human language is adequate to express the truths of Christianity. This idea, of course, will emerge as a central theme of the Pensées. MacKenzie brings his study to a close with the hypothesis that Pascal's ultimate goal in the Provinciales is nothing less than a "complete shrinking of the gap" which separatesJesuit discourse from a discourse which is authentically Catholic, "a complete reconstruction of that which had been fragmented" (p. 113). As MacKenzie sees it, Pascal offers his text, "the external manifestation ... of an internal and heartfelt motif of charity," as the means by which the perverters of Catholic unity may be brought to see the light (p. 1 14). As in the Pensées, it is this peculiarly Pascalian notion of charité which validates the very premises of Christian apologetics and polemics. Arizona State UniversityDavid Wetsel A Sinking Island: The Modern English Writers, by Hugh Kenner; 290 pp. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1988, $33.95. A Sinking Island is the third volume in a trilogy in which Hugh Kenner, the best and most distinguished exponent of International Modernism, explores what he calls "the three provinces" ofliterary modernism. The first, A Homemade World (1975), was devoted to American literature, and the second, A Golden Eye (1983), dealt with Ireland. The first two volumes are important contributions to the critical literature. I scarcely know how to convey the character of this book. It is cranky, quirky, dyspeptic and brilliant. There are dozens of pages of screech and screed about the British and their national character and culture. It is loaded with an immense number of amusing but always telling anecdotes. It contains a lot of useful, esoteric, historical information. Scattered throughout is a stunning number of incandescentjudgments and critical analyses of individual novels and poems. Reviews223 There is a fascinating account of the genesis of TL· Waste Land. There is a valiant and welcome defense of the rightful claim of Ford Madox Ford to a place in the modernist canon. Kenner campaigns relendessly and with persuasive effect against the baneful influence of the Bloomsberries, whose shallowness and incestuous sterility he demonstrates devastatingly through a combination of damning anecdotes and acute criticism, especially, of the "legend of Virginia Woolf," but by no means neglecting other figures such as Clive Bell and Roger Fry. AU diis is garnished with lavish praise of his favored authors and cruel, often unjustified judgments of those Kenner disapproves—egregiously , Philip Larkin. The exoskeleton diat holds this clotted stew in place is Kenner's view that "there's no longer an English literature." Kenner argues that the love of"ratding good stories" and "a good [i.e., easy] read" seems ingrained in the British reading public(s), and is inimical to International Modernism's insistence on difficulty and complexity and the demand that really good books make on us for endless rereading. In the twentieth century British readers have been fractured into a number of publics, and there is no longer a body of common readers of the sort required to support the literature of modernism and the modernist project of "making it new." Such readers of fiction and poetry as there are tend toward an irrational suspicion of innovation and the experimental, and are satisfied with "the classics" of the sort that used to be printed in the Everyman's Library or similar series, or with low-level entertainment of the kind supplied by P. G. Wodehouse or...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 222-223
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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