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Shorter Reviews119 emotion concepts. Finally, it is argued that literature is not to be understood as informative discourse; the latter is constituted by "the existence of a practice involving a series of utterances related to each other in a dialectical process of challenge and support" (p. 54), but this forms no part of literary practice. The second half presents the preferred model of literary understanding. In treating a work as literary we attribute to the author certain aesthetic intentions; these are conventionally determined, and the author has no "special authority when it comes to interpreting" them (p. 118). These conventions allow us to single out passages as segments, and explore their interrelations under descriptions of gradually increasing generality until "all the segments are interrelated in a network of descriptions which articulates the 'meaning' of the work" (p. 83); the familiar criteria for interpretative validity are then fascinatingly integrated into the overall structure. Evaluation is secondary, for "evaluative terms characterize how far an element contributes to, or frustrates, an interpretation" (p. 161). To the radical sceptic it is replied that the institution of literature is a partial criterion for the existence of faculties which are themselves criteria for a society having a highly developed culture; the only final defense, however, is that "literature is the kind of activity which arouses devotion" (p. 223). How long it will continue to do so if the above account is generally accepted remains to be seen, for the resulting vision of literature is remarkably austere. It excludes any text which "enters into the goal-directed normal functions of language" (p. 165), and any attempt to allow a work to "change one's way of seeing the world" is non-literary (p. 206), for "it is a category mistake to let judgements about the truth of a piece of discourse interfere with" one's reading of it as literature (p. 58). But the account of literary practice which leads to this aestheticist conclusion is highly selective. Leavis is far from being the only critic to compare texts in order to explore the relative powers of different sensibilities , at least partly with an eye to lived experience; and literary practice contains much dialectical "challenge and support" of types ruled out by Olsen, providing analogues to the dialectic of more centrally informative discourse. The relation of truth to dialogue, and the relevance of both to literature, has been a leading topic in recent European hermeneutics; Olsen's model might well be enriched by recourse to other "currently fashionable" philosophical theses. University of WarwickMartin Warner Marxism, Ideology and Literature, by Cliff Slaughter; ix & 228 pp. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1980, $20.00. Slaughter's book constitutes an effort to rescue Marxism from sterile and reductionist interpretations. He contends that "it is necessary to emphasize 120Philosophy and Literature Marx's theory of knowledge, and the fact that labour, practice, working on nature, makes the world of men and produces real knowledge" (p. 19) in order to prevent art and literature from being reduced to ideology. While laboring to produce a dialectical reading of Marx and his interpreters in the field of literary criticism, Slaughter fails to avoid a tendentious critique of those interpreters who go against the grain of his own brand of Marxist orthodoxy. Thus, the rescue effort proves abortive. Almost a third of the book is devoted to an explication of Marx. Much of that explication captures the dynamic methodology which Marx used to investigate the totality of how "social being determines consciousness." Against the more mechanistic and crude interpretations of Marx, Slaughter attempts to demonstrate how his rendering of Marxism can unveil "the necessary laws of the production of the actual conditions for . . . artistic creation" (p. 73). However, in pursuing his quest for the real legacy of Marx, Slaughter not only neglects the fetishizing of a productivist model which is inherent in Marx, but he also overlooks some of the more critical contributions to Marxism. In particular, Gramsci's important work on hegemony is completely ignored. This, in turn, diminishes an understanding of the subtle grounding of ideology and consciousness. (The significance of Gramsci's work is not lost on Slaughter's fellow countryman, Raymond Williams...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 119-121
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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