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Shorter Reviews1 1 7 leads both to philosophical overkill and predetermined critical response. Nevertheless, in Reflection, Time and the Novel Angel Medina has proposed a strategic and bold reconceptualization of the relations between life and literature . Many of his general reflections on temporality and the novel are refreshingly provocative, and seem to me valuable for the study of narratives. University of ArizonaSuresh Raval Poetic Creation: Inspiration or Craft, by Carl Fehrman, translated by Karin Petherick; ? & 229 pp. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980, $20.00. During most of the past two centuries there has been a fascination with the process of artistic creation, although recent scholarship under the influence of the New Criticism and of Marxism has been inclined to set it off to the side as irrelevant or insignificant. In writing about the creative craft of poetry, Fehrman sees his work as part of a small but growing return of interest in the artistic process in recent literary criticism. Poetic Creation approaches the subject by considering the act of creating a literary work as an isolated phenomenon apart from historical influences. Its ten chapters group themselves into three sets. The first two chapters review the kinds of documents and experiments used in investigating poets' work habits and then the practice of improvisational performances of music and poetry. Fehrman notes the prevalence of metaphors of organic growth and technical construction in the accounts by writers and artists about their manner of working . In addition to artists' statements, there are the interviews and experiments conducted by psychologists, the computer-aided experiments by linguists, and the work being done in comparative aesthetics. The discussion of improvisation in music and poetry contains the curious difference that while many of the major composers were noted improvisers, hardly any improvisers of poetry wrote poetry. These methodological matters are followed by a series of case studies of individual writers. A chapter on Coleridge's Kubla Khan raises the question of whether a poem can come into being spontaneously, as in a dream. This possibility is balanced by a discussion of Poe, whose tract, The Philosophy of Composition , had the design of showing that neither accident nor intuition entered into the writing of The Raven, but that it developed methodically, "with the precision and rigid consequences of a mathematical problem," a position followed sympathetically by Mallarmé, Valéry, Mayakovsky, and Gottfried Benn. Chapters on Ibsen's Brand and Lagerlöf's Gòsta Berling's Saga detail the transformations of these works through a variety of forms before they attained their fulfillment. Such examples suggest that only rarely and in brief works does spontaneous or rapid production of completed works take place. 1 18Philosophy and Literature The final chapters turn to issues and conclusions. The discussion of periodicity in the creative process centers mostly on Mallarmé, Valéry, Rilke, and the composer Hugo Wolf, all of whom had years of silence during which they wrote little or nothing. There is some consideration given various theories that attempt to identify stages in the creative process, and a lengthy discussion of the workings of inspiration that is filled with testimonials by advocates and opponents . Poetic Creation is unfailingly interesting and thorough, and it is written and translated well (although the author's lack of sympathy with ecstasy is unintentionally mirrored in his translator's regular misspelling of that word). While the book does not offer a clear proposal for a general theory of creativity, as the author claims in his Preface, it does provide a fair and not merely one-sided account of the importance of the genetic approach in understanding poetry. As Fehrman observes at the conclusion, the significance of studying creativity lies in the idea that there is something of a dialectical relation between creator and work, for not only does the author create his work but his work creates the author. C. W. Post Center, Long Island UniversityArnold Berleant The Structure ofLiterary Understanding, by Stein Haugom Olsen; xi & 235 pp. New York and London: Cambridge University Press, 1978, $19.95. "The epistemological assumptions on which a theory of literature is based," according to Stein Olsen, are "usually taken over from some currently fashionable philosophical thesis" (p. 7); his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 117-118
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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