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378Philosophy and Literature Notwithstanding this stirring rhetoric, Schultz (like many other social scientists and literary theorists on this topic) shows little command ofwhat contemporary philosophical work on relativism and realism is actually about. But by now she is enthralled by her vision of Whorf as tragic hero, a "Moses-like figure" (p. 152). She can even write of this prosperous insurance assessor who repeatedly declined offers of academic jobs: "It almost seems that the torture Whorf underwent was worse than the outright persecution, imprisonment, and exile suffered by Bakhtin or Dostoevsky. For if he was imprisoned, it was in a comfortable , complacent world ofcapitalist success" (p. 151)! By this point Schultz's perspective on Whorf is sorely in need of a bracing dialogic encounter with a more skeptical other's. Massey University, New ZealandRoy W. Perrett Essays on the Essay: Redefining the Genre, edited by Alexander J. Butrym; ix &: 309 pp. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989, $35.00 cloth, $15.00 paper. Drawn from a symposium, "The Essay: Redefining the Genre for the Humanities ," these papers offer fresh critical and pedagogical perspectives on the literary essay, linking its fortunes to those of the humanities. Relatively eclipsed in today's college curriculum, often serving merely to provide writing models in composition courses, the essay remains a vital form whose understanding, according to the editor, "prepares students for a lifelong process of personal discovery and education in the humanities" (pp. 4—5). An elegant keynote address by the late O. B. Hardison, Jr., deftly surveys the evolution of this protean genre, suggesting that, despite its many metamorphoses , it bears today its original Montaignian stamp. Under the heading "Essayists on Their Work," Scott Russell Sanders, Barbara Mellix, and Rockwell Gray exemplify the form while focusing on authorial voice and the importance of a sense of place to the formation of the writing self. Eleven chronologically ordered papers, beginning with Michael L. Hall's study linking the essays of Montaigne and Bacon to those of Donne and Browne, enable the reader to trace the history of the genre. Five of these contributions are insightful (re)assessments. Paul Korshin's study of the printing history and reception of Johnson's essays points to a wider, more thoughtfulreadership than thatreached by Addison and Steele. Georgia Johnston demonstrates the unity of Virginia Woolf's The Common Reader and its progression from focusing on the reader Reviews379 to studying canon formation. J. P. Riquelme sees T. S. Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent" as an important prose precursor of The Waste Land. Sherman Paul's study of Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac examines his evolving environmental ethic and measures his stature as a nature essayist. For E. Fred Carlisle, Loren Eisley's fusion of autobiographical, scientific, figurative, and metaphysical elements leads to an almost Thoreauvian achievement in The Immense Journey. Five other contributions lie in the domain of criticism, suggesting directions for future studies. The relation between essayisdc writings and the overall opus concerns both Robert Atwan, as he examines Emerson's essays, journals and correspondence, and Duane Edwards, as he walks the boundaries between D. H. Lawrence's self-revealing essays and novels. From her vantage as a teacher of composition, Nancy Enrightjudges dextrous William Hazlitt's reconciliation of the familiar style's demands with the essay's boundless possibilities. Charles O'Neill's topic is aesthetic ritual in W. B. Yeats's Ideas of Good and Evil, while James Cunningham studies the rhetorical function of personal remembrances in James Baldwin's major essay collections. Papers under the rubric "Theory and Definition" point to the essay's vitality in contemporary critical discourse: George Core attributes some of the form's prestige to New Yorker writers E. B. White and James Thurber; and R. Lane Kauffmann argues persuasively for its philosophical legitimacy, citing Frankfurt School proponents Adorno and Walter and recent French poststructuralist practitioners. Pedagogical concerns surface in four final papers. Observing the inscription of a complex itinerary in American essays of the last thirty years, William Howarth is skeptical of their use as models of orderly composition. Renewing Montaigne's historic defense of plain language as the instrument of inquiry, Kurt Spellmeyer argues against...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 378-379
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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