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212Philosophy and Literature Even the chronology of the articles is not linear, after the first essay. Who, Heilbrun asks, are strong, self-assertive or creative women to look to in their quest for new myths of the self? Must they always be their own point of origin? One essay on May Sarton is particularly striking in this regard. Heilbrun quotes Sarton's assertion that "we have to make myths of our lives. ... It is the only way to live without despair" (p. 184). The myths of our lives, in Heilbrun's terms, are constructed through a series of associations. One association is that between our lives and our work, a reciprocal symmetry between author and subject. She herselfunderstands Woolf's professional courage after the age of fifty because of her own experience of being in her fifties. She documents "the bravest acts" of her own life as two essays in which she "spoke as a woman" and sees a similar transformation in Woolf's own later style. By this stage in the essays, it is clear to us that Heilbrun sees herself as a composite identity, constructed not only of her own voice and experience, but of all the women—fictional and real, dead and alive—she's come to know. (Her knowledge , it must be noted, is comprised largely of middle-class, well-educated, white women.) It seems pertinent that the final essays in the collection discuss mysteries; her identity as Amanda Cross, at one time secret and disassociated from her "real" self, now allows her to cross the once-impenetrable lines of defined genre. Appropriately, similar questions ofidentity and belonging, myth and return are addressed in Cross's latest novel, The Players Come Again (1990). "One cannot make up stories," Heilbrun asserts in her discussion of Penelope, "one can only retell in new ways the stories one has already heard" (p. 127). In presenting us with the evolution ofher own intellectual, literary, and feminist identity, Heilbrun invites us to use her as a story to be rewritten. She both leads us into the labyrinth of women and textuality and provides us with a string of striking associations, not so that we may imitate her, but rather that we may, by knowing her, come to know ourselves. Whitman CollegeRoberta Davidson HarmonyofDissonances: T. S. Eliot, Romanticism, andImagination , by John Paul Riquelme; xiii & 354 pp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991, $32.95. John Paul Riquelme offers us a new Eliot, one with whom we can presumably be seen in public, one whose work, if not "postmodern" already, can't really be distinguished from the "new writing it heralds" (p. 17). Eliot's sacrifice of Reviews213 private identity to a larger entity, which we had thought the sinister strategy of a fascist, turns out to be the trendiest notion of the nature of the self. This self, once celebrated as the inspired personal source of lyric poetry, doesn't really exist at all except as a grammatical construct, a holographic phantom generated by language (p. 157). A poem for Eliot is not what it was for the deluded, despised Romantics, Wordsworth and Coleridge, a "direct, spontaneous , presumably unmediated utterance and self-revelation. . . ." Eliot's poetry is not an expression of personality, as we know. It is an escape from personality. Nor does "voice" have anything to do with what winds up in a book. Eliot's language is "written rather than spoken." It shows every mark "of having been composed" (p. 50). That there is no conscious unified self to emit poetry in the first place is a point made relendessly in this book, and is surely its favorite critical insight. Eliot never writes to express something he has felt; he writes to allow the work to express something he, as a writer, never felt before (p. 67). The emotion of writing is "structural emotion" (p. 145). Eliot's compositions are so disdainful of the ego's coherence that the reader is unable to identify with, or indeed even recognize, a speaking selfthere (p. 50). Neither in "Gerontion" nor in "Prufrock" can one ascribe the poem's language to a speaker (p. 156). If ever we imagined "Prufrock" to be the utterance...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 212-214
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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