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Reviews397 native, modernism has never seriously challenged the hegemony of bourgeois order. "It is," he writes, "the other (of) modernity, or to put it differently, it is modernity held in abeyance" (p. 240). For modernism is nothing more (or less) than a suite of differences, deferrals, and interruptions to modernity. Its very techniques are, moreover, subject to appropriation by the dominant discourses for use in advertising, propaganda, and self-justificationsbecause, as Eysteinsson points out, modernism's debate with modernity is dialogic: it is always more or less a response to the rationality and the persuasiveness of the dominant culture. If, therefore, it now seems that the classics of modernism have themselves been absorbed into the teaching canon of institutionalized modernity (university syllabi and media kitsch), the counterhegemonic discourses of postmodernism play out a new game of pretended subversion by seeming to appropriate the pre- or nonmodernistic aspects of modernity itself. Holes in jeans can be mass produced and punk hairstyles rendered by high-fashion models. It is, finally, all very bourgeois. University of Waikato, New ZealandNorman Simms Occidental Poetics: Tradition and Progress, by Lubomir Dolezel; 261 pp. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990, $33.50. Lubomir Dolezel's Occidental Poetics represents, first of all, a major achievement in the historiography of poetics. But at the same time, Dolezel's study marks a significant advance in poetics itself. Subsuming two millennia ofthinking about literature under the rubric "occidental poetics," the book in large measure produces precisely that global framework or "research tradition" of which it purports to give a (genealogical) account. One is tempted to lapse here into Heideggerianisms and declaim something to this effect: Occidental Poetics shows us how poetics, as a science or investigative framework, attains scientific status just by grounding itself in its own historicity. But Dolezel can speak, less portentously, for himself: "The concept of research tradition combined with reformed historicism provides our inquiry with a method of 'systemic reconstruction'. . . . From a systemic historical reconstruction poetics emerges as an evolving set of assumptions, concepts, and methods which progressively build up a consistent approach to literature" (p. 4). It is, furthermore, a testament to the author's sense of proportion and 398Philosophy and Literature concision—and a sign of his familiarity with the global poetics he seems, paradoxically , to "reconstruct" avant h lettre—that Occidental Poetics can uncomplacently guide us from the ancient Greeks to the Prague School in some 175 pages. The text also includes a wealth of useful notes and a comprehensive bibliography. Dolezel begins by posing a distinction between poetics, "a cognitive activity that gathers knowledge about literature and incorporates it into the broader framework of knowledge acquired by the human and social sciences," versus criticism, "an axiological, value-assigning activity that integrates and reintegrates literary works into the system of a culture" (p. vii). Occidental Poetics then naces the genesis and evolution of what Dolezel terms the fundamental "themata" of poetics—the "idea of literature as structure," "the relationship between poetic art and the world," the "problem of poetic creativity" and the "relationship between literature and language" (pp. 6—7)—in sources spanning the British, French, German-language, Russian, and Czech traditions. Indeed, the sheer range of Dolezel's investigations is extraordinary. They cover Aristotle's "universal poetics, a theory of general literary categories" (p. 17); Baumgarten's postulation ofa "logic ofsensibility," and Leibniz's subsequent "theoryoffictional possibles," together with powerful elaborations upon Ûie Leibnizian theory by two Swiss Germanists of the eighteenth century, Johann Bodmer and Johann Breitinger; Goethe's morphological model and Wilhelm von Humboldt's projection ofthat model into the domain ofpoetics; Wordsworth's and Coleridge's dispute over the nature of poetic language; the stylistics of Charles Bally and the anagrammatic researches of Bally's teacher, Saussure; the early twentiethcentury narratology of Otmar Schissel, whose analysis of E. T. A. Hoffman Dolezel compares with the Russian Formalists' slighdy later theories about narrative ; and finally, the "semiotic poetics" of Mukarovsky, Jakobson, Vodicka, Jiri Levy and other members of the Prague School, one of whose last and most significant representatives, of course, is Dolezel himself. Dolezel's masterly survey and impressive grasp of occidental poetics as a whole is what allows him...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 397-399
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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