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208Philosophy and Literature history, instead of adhering to the opposition between the historical and the plausible so often stated in the better-known controversies about dramatic theory. Revising Memory usefully and thoughtfully expands the study of history in early modern France and must be taken into account by any serious student of the subject. University of VirginiaJohn D. Lyons The French Joyce, by Geert Lernout; vi & 291 pp. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990, $29.95. Geert Lernout's The French Joyce takes on not only the French criticism of Joyce in its poststructuralist stage but also the philosophical underpinnings of the whole poststructuralist project. Rigorously historical, it is compartmentalized into four French categories and one Anglo-American. Lernout's approach is analytical and clear-headed, but he does not conceal a bias against what he sees as poststructuralist obfuscation and overreaching. A case may be made for some overreaching on Lernout's part, but I would maintain that this critical overview is both clear and fair with a few exceptions. Noting the relative neglect of Joyce by the pre-sixties French critical establishment , Lernout begins by oudining the positions of three French innovators: Hélène (Berger) Cixous, Jacques Derrida, andJacques Lacan. He has the courage , in a bravura show of learning, to go back to the earliest treatments of Joyce by each, oudining failings as well as accomplishments. Thus, he highlights Cixous's various phases from the early existential through the poststructuralist to her own brand of feminism. Along the way he notes with disapproval her tendency to create a WaL· in her own image and at the expense of the novel's continuity and coherence. A leitmotif in this study is the critical misappropriation of Joyce's words, a flaw most prevalentin writers with strong agendas. Derrida'sJoyce is particularly idiosyncratic. In addition, Lernout notes that he overuses textual aids to amass data and overreads isolated fragments. Showing that Lacan had only a rudimentary awareness ofthe text, mainly from colleagues and textual aids, Lernout explores the impact on Lacan of Heidegger and Kojeve's reading of Hegel to explore the problem of "authority" in the extensive but invariably second-hand record of Lacanian reactions. He echoes the familiar complaint that the procedures of these originals do not lend themselves to useful emulation, though many have tried. Reviews209 Chapter Three, on French "university criticism," begins with a thoughtful analysis of the antagonism between the non-academic society and the academic. Lernout's goal is to situate the two voices and sort out their contributions; no easy task since the scene is complex and some institutions (like the Collège de France and L'Ecole normale supérieure) are less rigid. The latter institutions were always more hospitable to theoretical innovations, and many of the Normalians are now in the system. Lernout wends his way through this labyrinth meting out praise and blame. His main protagonist is the brilliant, but erratic younger critic, Jean-Michel Rabaté, whose entire production is scrutinized. But along the way he brings into play the important new strand of genetic or manuscript-oriented Joyce criticism fostered by the ITEM group, a development which he, like I, welcome as countering some of the extravagances while giving an opening to a modified poststructuralism in the work of critics like Rabaté. The chapter brings us to the turning point in the development of the French reactions to Joyce, perhaps its most controversial and creative phase. The longestand most informative chapter is devoted to the byzantine situation of Tel Quel and of its principal actor, Philippe Sollers. Here, Lernout outdoes himself, having read nearly everything, noting all the shifts including, ofcourse, the latest to Gallimard. He establishes for "anglosaxophones" the various ideological , critical, theoretical, and political shifts of both Sollers and his mutable flock analyzing Tel Çhiel's very specialJoyce image, which he critiques splendidly. He also deals, though rather peremptorily, with theJoycean impact on Sollers's fiction. We are gready in his debt for this effort. A brief chapter on Anglo-American adaptations of the French Joyce is followed by a lengthy, considered, and highly critical conclusion in which Lernout lines up behind Lentricchia in examining the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 208-209
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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