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Reviews181 speech event and the novel as its point of speculative departure, as distinct from "poetics" which has traditionally privileged poetry and treated prose as something of an awkward afterthought. Morson and Emerson bring to their task of exposition a critical sympathy based on extensive research and impeccable scholarship. Their account of Bakhtin is comprehensive and invariably lucid and engaging. Given these qualities , it will undoubtedly remain the standard scholarly reference work on Bakhtin in English for many years. University of CanterburyDenis B. Walker After the Future: Postmodern Times and Places, edited by Gary Shapiro; xviii & 360 pp. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990, $59.00 cloth, $19.95 paper. "Postmodernism" is at the very least a term peculiarly suited to generating conferences and subsequent loose anthologies, such as this one. This statement is not quite as cynical as it appears. The problematic nature ofdefining concepts, essences, or periods of history and ascribing meanings to them is something forcibly at issue in "postmodernism," understood here as a shorthand to name, well, whatever we are in the process ofdeciding has happened. The apt temporal paradox of the tide of this collection, however, is not always so clearly at work in some ofthe papers inside, poised as too many ofthem are between argument and a sort of topicaljournalism. One writer even goes so far as to refer to "the proponents of postmodernism in philosophy" (p. 138), a phrase that begs the very questions which we ought to be engaging. Nevertheless, this book does clarify some issues well. This is mainly a result ofits breadth ofscope, moving as it does through philosophy, history, literature, architecture, the fine arts, and language. Two tendencies in defining "postmodernism " emerge with a surprising distinctness in the course ofthe collection, relating to differing understandings of the "modern." Writers whose principle reference is to contemporary "continental" philosophy define "modernism" in terms owing largely to Heidegger's definition of modern metaphysics. A. J. Cascardi's fine introductory paper argues accordingly that "the Cartesian concept of reason may be taken as a defining characteristic of the modern age" (p. 3) provided that this understanding is supplemented by the work of Blumenberg and Foucault on the nature of "modern" sociality and power. Com- 182Philosophy and Literature pared with the depth and scope of Cascardi's argument (and related considerations from Stephen David Ross), other definitions of the "modern" and "postmodern" can seem rather epiphenomenal, even opportunistic. These tend to look towards the vaguer, more conventional (but totally distinct) understanding of modernism as that event in the fine arts, architecture, and literature that dates from about the turn of this century. One exception to this dichotomy between the "philosophical" and the "artistic" accounts of the modern, as one might label them, is Edward Casey's thoughtful essay on architecture and philosophy. This distinguishes itself in working through a post-Heideggerian conception of metaphysics and questions of aesthetic form (the complex relation between the architectural and philosophical notions of "place, form, and identity"). In parts of the "literature" section, however, the precise philosophical conception of the subject becomes really little more than that lax literary critical notion, "the self," in a fashionable garb. Mention should be made of two essays which, while they make litde effort to engage explicidy or at length with the question of the "postmodern," stand out in their own right. Richard Shusterman's " 'Ethics and Aesthetics Are One' " is refreshing both in dealing with questions of ethics and with the work of Bernard Williams. Gerald Bruns gives a lucid account of Heidegger and questions ofthe language of philosophy, albeit one that does insufficientjustice to the strict discipline at work in Heidegger's transformations of language. One practical point to emerge in this collection is how useful it could have been for each contributor to have seen drafts of the other papers before things were finalized. As the collection stands, a fascinating debate between various and fundamentally differing conceptions of the "postmodern" (mainly but not only that debate suggested here) has to be largely projected and worked through by the reader in the jump from one isolated textual presentation to the next. University of DurhamTimothy Clark Situation and Human Existence...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 181-182
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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