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150Philosophy and Literature other than that looking into it; it is the "perfect mediator not only between the artist and his female creation, but between the artist and his androgynous audience. He and we look in the mirror and see her—a nonexistent self who is both our twin and our opposite." Baba is the creature that Beaton would have been had he been born female, like Dickens's (or rather David Copperfield 's) Betsy Trotwood,James's Olive Chancellor, and Miller's Marilyn Monroe. Lesser concludes: "If a male artist can imaginatively transform himself into a woman character, then alternative lives may exist for all of us. We aren't limited to what we were born with." By now an image of Lesser should have emerged: intelligendy post-Freudian (her mentor, if any, is D. W. Winnicott), liberal but not wishy-washy, commonsensed, and accessible. Inevitably the breadth ofLesser's range makes her open to specialist criticism. She misrepresents the Pre-Raphaelites as the "storytelling" contemporaries of Whistler and she unconvincingly contrasts the misogyny of Picasso's late works with his "deep love of women." Yet an essay on Picasso might have snatched some love out ofthejaws ofmisogyny. I hope that Lesser will address the theme and thereby amend Robert Hughes's potent image of the "walking scrotum." The mention of Hughes is not coincidental; Lesser promises to be a critic of his calibre, although kinder to her targets and deeper than Time permits. Lesser is more! University of Canterbury, New ZealandMark Stocker Search for a Father: Sartre, Paternity, and the Question of Ethics, by Robert Harvey; ix & 234 pp. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991, $29.95. This study, based on a 1988 doctoral dissertation at the University of California at Berkeley, shows both extensive knowledge of Sartre's works and ingenuity ofinterpretation. Indeed, the author's hermeneutic accomplishments sometimes rival those ofthe writer under consideration. Professor Harvey draws on phenomenological ontology, psychoanalysis, Marxism, demography, history, structuralism, and science to support his theses. While some of the latter will win approval, others may appear less convincing. Harvey righdy observes that Sartre was obsessed with paternity. Denouncing it as ontologically flawed and, it appears, repelled personally by its physical and social facts, Sartre seemed to reject it in every way, viewing the superego and paternal authority as particularly objectionable. Nevertheless, evidence Reviews151 suggests that the idea offatherhood (like that ofGod, with which it has affinities) was crucial in defining Sartrean ethics, never fully elaborated but adumbrated in both early phenomenological texts and later Marxist ones. This is because, according to Harvey's argument, paternity poses the problem of human intersubjectivity more acutely than any other relationship. (The privileging of this bond as more problematic than others is, however, unexplained and may simply reflect the bias of the writer, critic, and Freud.) Hence paternity is the greatest ethical challenge. Calling for the assumption of total responsibility before all (a responsibility likened to Adas taking on the burden of the world), Sartrean ethics denies the value of uncommitted freedom. When sons reject fathers or fathers reject offspring, they experience a lightness of being, a disponibilit é, felt often as a negative. In short, freedom from paternity is an exemplary case of man's predicament as a useless passion. Harvey argues that Sartre came to recognize this dilemma of paternity and played with solutions. Occasionally, women (usually undervalued by Sartre, according to Harvey who, following Serge Doubrovsky, equates Sartre's category of the feminine with the horrid but fascinating visqueux) acquire positive value and mediate between men and reproduction. Sometimes Sartrean imagery supports the notion of the son as carrying the father—responsible for him. But these moves toward recognition of paternity's legitimacy are always qualified. Moreover, in opposition to them is the important notion of bastardy, which enters Sartre's work in the 1950s with his Saint-Genet and two major plays. The idea of the ens causa sui, which is the human dream, according to Sartre's ontology, is transformed into a social and political category in the figures of Genet and Goetz (Le Diable et le Bon Dieu). Sartre then extends the idea of social illegitimacy to encompass alloutcasts...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 150-152
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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