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Shorter Reviews241 sion. Though Luft mentions Mach frequently, there is little sense of the way in which many of Musil's problems grew out of his early preoccupation with Mach's thought—especially in psychology. The Italian literature on Musil might have been helpful here, but Luft either does not know it or chooses to ignore it. Similarly, Luft ignores the parallels that Musil presents to other philosophers , notably Otto Weininger, whose problems help to cast light on Musil's central concerns. In fine, Luft has provided us with a kind of pony to Musil's oeuvre, one which vividly portrays, albeit less than critically, Musil's self-perception and his perception of his age. Because Musil, like Wittgenstein and Weber, gazed profoundly into reaches that others would not or could not explore—ranging from sex and love through the implications of statistical mechanics for social life, to psychopathology—and because Musil is so little known in the English speaking world, we must be grateful to Luft for providing us with a lively avenue of access to his thought. Wellesley CollegeAllan Janik Walter Scott and the Historical Imagination, by David Brown; 239 pp. London, Boston, and Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979, $17.50. Many read Sir Walter Scott as children; few read him again as adults, and those who do condescend to what charmed them as children. David Brown's Introduction to his fine study reminds us that Scott still "has hardly had a fair hearing" (p. 2). The loss, of course, is not Scott's but ours. Scott is a great novelist and an innovator of titanic proportions. Contrary to appearances, he requires more sophistication on some levels than, say, his contemporary, Jane Austen. Until recently, English departments have been fairly parochial when it came to incorporating historical theory, and yet traditional literary approaches to Scott have not been very fruitful, if criticism is meant to deepen the work for us and augment its audience. It is ironic that Scott, an avowed conservative, should find his most able, subtle, enthusiastic critic in the Marxist, George Lukács. But English departments have hardly been more receptive to Marxism than to other historical theory. Despite Lukács's warnings, it still has been all too easy to claim to find in Scott, as Carlyle was among the first to do, a banal, pulpy romanticism fit only for a diseased mind. In reality it is Carlyle's historical writing which is "romantic " in a dangerous sense, whereas Scott's departs boldly from the Byronized hero. Yet to the Victorians Scott did not seem "serious" enough, and to us perhaps he does not seem intricate or psychological enough. But as Brown ably 242Philosophy and Literature shows, Scott's Waverley novels can sustain intensive investigation, and will reveal themselves "to be both a coherent and an imaginative working-out of Scott's understanding of history and of the historical process"(p. 4). Although Brown's study is an extension of Lukács's essay, it challenges Lukács on some points, avoids Marxist underpinnings, contains what Lukács did not intend to do—a scrupulous analysis of individual novels—and broadens Lukács by examining Scott's connections with the Edinburgh school of "philosophic" historians , namely Adam Smith and Hume. Lukács looks forward to Hegel, Brown backward to Scott's Scotland. When one recalls that Marx was delighted by Scott and drew upon Adam Smith, connections proliferate. Brown writes a restrained, reasoned prose that avoids polemic or panegyric. He would seem, however, to agree with his own restatement of Lukács's views on Scott: "Lukács's criticism aims at nothing less than the construction of an alternative 'Great Tradition' [Leavis's term], seeing in the Waverley novels the first creative literary expression of the modern 'historical' consciousness" (p. 195). Scott is the first to perceive character as emerging from geography, culture , class, economics, education, and ideology. He can juxtapose entire cultures because he views societies as proceeding at different paces from a feudal, fealty-bound, hunting-pasturing society (the Highland clans) toward an urbanized , democratized, bureaucratic, loyalty-less commercial state (Hanoverian England ). Scott refuses to see individual characters as good or evil...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 241-243
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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