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198Philosophy and Literature The only significant limitations of this study occur in Shapiro's treatment of the halcyonic metaphor itself. The concluding section on Alcyone does not fulfill the feminist suggestion of the book's subtide, namely "women." Yes, the voice of Zarathustra can be heard as feminine, but Shapiro concerns himself more with the "halcyonic tone" of a calm, sunny, winter solstice necessary for Nietzsche's male spiritual pregnancy. The Nietzschean problematic of"women" is far more disruptive (indeed, noisy) than is implied in Shapiro's tuneful claim, via the halcyonic mytheme, to a "feminine alternative to hermeneutics" (p. 1 14). Somewhat misleading, too, is the way in which Shapiro plays the role of antidetective and yet retains the typical hermeneutical strategy of deferring the entry of Alcyone until the final chapter: when she appears, this much-awaited feminine metaphor is disclaimed asjust one path among many in the labyrinth, and yet her myth is still explored as a yardstick for Nietzschean interpretation. As a consequence of Shapiro's brand of metaphorical engagement with the Nietzschean text, the actual position of the halcyon regarding the earlier, more convincingly interrelated topoi of gift-giving, noise, and parasitism remains dissatisfyingly underplayed. University of VirginiaJanet Lungstrum Balzacian Montage: Configuring "La Comédie humaine," by Allan H. Pasco; 185 pp. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, $45.00. Allan Pasco's Balzacian Montage is a remarkably successful defense and illustration of the claim that the Comédie humaine is a work unified by its author's skill and his determination to draw the portrait of his age, that is, of a society in which he saw tradition and merit being irrevocably replaced by money. The claim that the widely disparate works forming the Comédie are a unit determined by subject as well as intent was repeatedly made by Balzac himself. It has, over the years, been a constant stumbling block for critics hard put to justify his repeated re-ordering of works without regard for chronology and his juxtaposition of stories that, at best, share only a background in time and place or reappearing characters. Pasco takes some of the works that seem least likely to serve the argument for unity and shows how Balzac made them fit and serve his purpose, inviting readers "to interpret according to the context, to 'close' the parts according to the design implied by the text or texts." He Reviews199 starts out by identifying the six main "principles operative for us as we plunge into Balzac's marvelous world." Though Balzac students may dispute their relative importance, they will find their enumeration extremely useful. In the Comédie: (1) narration is subordinated to description; (2) description is keyed by central images subordinated to a generative idea (Balzac's idée mere); (3) images are linked by repetition and played out through parallels, opposition, and development; (4) unchronological arrangement can be explained by a consistent esthetic vision ("Balzac always thought of his works as a part of a whole"); (5) the works, often placed within an explicit frame, are always set within an implicit context, which is essential to the creation; (6) Balzac regularly constructs montages, wholes made up of other wholes, rather than collages, wholes made of isolated pieces. To illustrate the crucial role ofdescription in the service ofa generative idea, in chapter two, Pasco makes particularly good use of Le Père Goriot, an acknowledged masterpiece that disturbs critics who require unity as a function of plot. In the same way, while illustrating the unifying "principles" set out, subsequent chapters offer insights into the Comédie—thus, the discussion of masks in and beyond the context of Splendeurs, in chapter three ("Unifying Units"), and, in the second half of that chapter, the excellent discussion of Balzac's "monsters." Chapter four, which uses works combining other works, like Autre étude defemme and Histoire des treize, to illustrate Balzacian montage, offers thoughtful distinctions between the grande dame and the femme comme il faut in the Comédie. The discussion, in chapter five, of Balzac's use of frames and frames within frames, is expanded to consider the general problems posed by framing in fiction. Having taken his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 198-200
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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