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Reviews399 otherwise, is (has as its condition of possibility) just the more or less coherent partitioning of more from less possible states of affairs; modal homogeneity therefore represents precisely the absence of any world whatsoever. Finally, and at a more practical level, having divided the bibliography into primary and secondary sources, Dolezel distributes Jakobson's texts between the two headings . This made checking references confusing, at least on occasion. Such remarks, however, cannot but appear picayune in the face of so important a work of scholarship as Occidental Poetics. Given the sweep, erudition, and virtually sui-generis brilliance of the book, we can only hope that since Dolezel asserts the need for a separate study tracing the "complex and seemingly chaotic developments in postwar poetics" (p. vii), the author will take it upon himself to supplement Occidental Poetics with a second book that investigates, or rather "systemically reconstructs," poetics after Prague. University of PennsylvaniaDavid Herman Reading Narrative as Literature: Signs ofLife, by Andrew Stibbs; xii & 175 pp. Milton Keynes, U.K.: Open University Press, 1991, £10.99 paper. The project of this book is to introduce relevant ideas from recent literary theory into the practical business of teaching literature to schoolchildren. Stibbs attempts to explore the implications, for schoolteaching, of reader-response theories, structuralism and other "text-centred" theories, and the view that literature is an expression ofprevailing ideology. In the context ofcontemporary theory the project is intriguing. In the past we might have taken it for granted that the teaching of English at schools benefited from teachers' knowledge of literary theory, but nowadays we might expect theorists to experience a degree of unease at the idea of teachers ingenuously attempting to apply their knowledge of theory in nurturing the reading habits of schoolchildren. Would even the more progressive of, say, the English faculty members at Yale or Duke wish upon their children English teachers who told pupils that Jane Eyre is not about people at all but about other books, or that Bronte's novel, like all novels, has no recoverable meaning at all? There is a sense in which theories of literature come cheaply. Bad theory in medicine or engineering leads to the spread of disease and the collapse of dykes and bridges. This book is an attempt to bring theory and practice together in the apparently sincere belief that practice will benefit. It therefore promises a rare glimpse of 400Philosophy and Literature what happens when those theoreticians who seldom have to answer to the real world find their theories applied in a practical context where the consequences of mistakes could be disastrous. The result is an anti-climax. The author tends to treat literary theory as a smorgasbord from which he is allowed to selectjust those morsels which happen to be to his taste. The selected fragment, deprived ofits context, is often reduced to a banality, while the larger implications of the theory from which it comes are ignored. Thus, having summarized Wolfgang Iser as saying that the reader constantly reconstructs a text in the head to make meaning (p. 11), and that the process is enriched by the reader's experience ofother writing, Stibbs derives from this such suggestions as that teachers should withhold ready-made interpretations (p. 21) and should encourage pupils to read widely (p. 33). Haven't competent schoolteachers always known these things? Because he ignores theoretical implications, Stibbs happily treats all the theories he discusses as different aspects ofthe revealed truth. For example, having dealt sympathetically with reader-response theories, he moves on to an enthusiastic discussion of the pedagogical usefulness of Roland Barthes's structuralist theory of literature. Though the latter represents a phase in Barthes's thinking when he saw the process of writing and reading as strictly governed by preexisting linguistic codes, Stibbs's enthusiasm for Barthes does not lead him to qualify his earlier emphasis on the freedom of readers' responses, nor to look for possible ways of reconciling reader-response positions with a rigid structuralism . He simply piles fancied pieces of uncooked Barthes onto the same plate as Iser and Stanley Fish. By 'uncooked' I mean chunks like this (and the surrounding parts of Stibbs's discussion do...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 399-400
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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