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Reviews413 Tannery's generous ardor brings with it some weaknesses as well as strength. At times he exclaims and defends too much, persisting, for example, in treating the butcher Mao Zedong and his vicious "cultural revolution" with undeserved respect. It is too much to say that Malraux regards "every revolution" as a lyrical illusion (p. 91); Malraux is both less "disillusioned" and less Utopian than Tannery, more genuinely political. Tannery does share one weakness with Malraux: the failure to distinguish sufficiendy the classical from the modern conception of reason. In Plato reason yields transcendence, a possibility Malraux , following Nietzsche, too hastily rejects. Tannery insists too much on the development, the metamorphosis, of MaIraux 's thought, underestimating its continuity. He discusses The Walnut Trees of Altenburg without fully considering Malraux's integration of that novel, its chapters largely unchanged, into The Mirror of Limbo, published some three decades later. This happens because Tannery sometimes does not attend closely to the texts as Malraux presents them, making it difficult to see exactly where Malraux's thoughts end and Tannery's begin. This is especially and most regrettably true of Tannery's penultimate chapter, treating his principal theme, metamorphosis as universal law. Here he brings in a plethora of writers from Goethe (quite informatively) to Stephen Jay Gould. There's just not enough Malraux. We who admire Malraux and find nourishment in his writings would betray what he has given us were we to use such occasions as this for multiplying unfraternal complaints. Tannery has written a book to learn from, and to build with. Rumson, New JerseyWill Morrisey Contending Kingdoms, edited by Marie-Rose Logan and Peter L. Rudnytsky; 373 pp. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991, $44.95 cloth, $24.95 paper. The critical movement of new historicism, ushered in by the publication of Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning in 1980, has enjoyed a steady if not spectacular rise over the past decade. New Historicism's anti-formalist convictions, together with a tendency to gravitate toward the Renaissance as a period in which art and politics were closely intertwined, form the critical basis for ContendingKingdoms. The title, taken from Shakespeare'sHenry V, is intended not only to signal the inclusion of essays on the French as well as the English Renaissance and the oppositions inherent in any study of the early modern 414Philosophy and Literature period, but also to allude to the divergence of theoretical paths taken by the contributors. The catch-all title is symptomatic. The book includes a variety of essays by a number of writers all of whom adopt a self-conscious critical posture. This is reinforced by the division ofessays according to critical method, and occasionally leads to a division of interest between subject and method. Burt's essay, "A Dangerous Rome," for instance, begins with a stimulating discussion of what he terms discursive determinism. This is to say that "unlike the Gramscian notion that political interests determine discourse, discourse, in [his] view, determines politics." To take Burt's own concrete example, there is no transcendent signified by Roman history in the Renaissance, rather Roman history had to be articulated in and for the Renaissance present. This latest foray into the postmodernist debate, via Shakespeare 's Julius Caesar, is of at least as much, and possibly of more, interest to the student ofliterary criticism, as to the Renaissance scholar. Nor are the essays always in agreement. Carron's essay, "The Persuasive Seduction," suggests that the apparent opposition inherent in the dialogue form of sixteenth-century France merely creates an illusion of an "other" while giving preeminence to a single voice, that of the author, thus demonstrating the capacity of power to contain subversion. In this respect, Burt's essay offers a possible solution to the foreclosure of opposition within a text, a problem inherent in the position of the new historicist. The spectre of foreclosure is also addressed by feminist critics in this volume. In her essay, "Rewriting the Rhetoric of Desire in the Heptameron," Carla Freccero asks whether it is really possible for feminist critics to speak of an outsider's point of view when this outside is already contained within an ideological institution and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 413-414
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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