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Reviews229 the instances in Persiles and Sigismunda when she sees Cervantes presenting the main characters with examples of both commendable and non-commendable attitudes and behavior, some of which are designed for Periandro's edification, some for Sigismunda, but all for his readers. This brings her discussion to what she sees as Cervantes's implicit exploration into the Other. Her specific and richly detailed studies of the examples of Transila Fitzmaurice, Feliciana de la Voz, and Isabela Castrucha as women breaking out of the mold of the silent or gender-imprisoned Other successfully argue for de Armas Wilson's important point that throughout Persiles and Sigismunda there is a movement toward gender bilingualism. Her argument and this volume are effectively convincing because hercontributions tocriticism ofthe work are grounded in and anticipate a vast range of other critical stances and resources. By de Armas Wilson's own example of the skillful organization of this diverse material and our smooth guidance through it, she convinces us that Cervantes's method, too, is not that we readers stand by to "watch" or "hear" the language of the Other, but that with Persiles and Sigismunda we actually begin to experience that bilingualism. Whitman CollegeCelia E. Weller Humanism in Crisis: TL· Decline oftL· French Renaissance, edited by Philippe Desan; viii & 323 pp. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991, $37.50. This collection of fourteen essays grew out of a colloquium held in 1988 to address the changes wrought in French humanism from 1580 to 1630. The tense intellectual debate and dialogue that prevailed at the colloquium are reflected, the editor believes, in the final published version of the papers. However, there is no transcription of any of the discussions that took place, making it more difficult for the reader of the volume to map the dialogue that went into its making. Desan's opening essay attempts to characterize the crisis ofhumanism through a figure: the worm of crisis in the apple of humanism. He goes on to speak of a number of "axes of crisis" in the humanist canon: the ideal of universality of scholarship, problems of method, the decline of Latin and the emergence of a French national consciousness, the moral crisis precipitated by Machiavellianism , the decline of Aristotelianism, the impact of Copernican heliocentrism, vast questions that indicate the scope of the "crisis" that the author believes was 230Philosophy and Literature implicidy already present in humanism from the start. The premise of the notion of crisis, according to the editor, is shared by the contributors, who "chose to study some of the most fundamental tenets of humanism and to see how those tenets ultimately corrupted from within the very notion ofhumanism" (p. 2). A reading of the papers makes it difficult to see precisely how all of them bear out this claim. Indeed, the figure of the worm in the apple is less useful than a more straightforward discussion in causal or historical terms might have been. Having said this, I must also say that this collection of conference papers is distinguished by the generally high quality of the contributions. In my opinion, among the best chapters are those which deal historically with a major aspect of the crisis, such as James J. Supple's and George Huppert's chapters on precise social and economic reasons for the failure of Renaissance education. Zachary S. Schiffman raises the question of "Humanism and the Problem of Relativism," essentially arguing that relativism remained an intractable problem for the early modern mind (including Descartes's), because it lacked an idea ofhistorical development. The interpretation ofhistory is the focus of Timothy Hampton's essay, which foregrounds the decline of humanism in the changing attitude toward exemplary figures, particularly in Montaigne's Essais. In the domain of Renaissance philosophy and philology, Timothy J. Reiss considers the idea of meaning and the practice of method in Ramus and H. Estienne. The Cartesian quest for certainty in the face of a breakdown in divine guarantees underpinning language and logic is already implicitin Ramus, suggesting, rather than an abrupt paradigm shift, a more complicated and slower epistemological change between the late Renaissance and the seventeenth century. Other excellent contributions by Frank Lestringant on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 229-231
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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