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180Philosophy and Literature providing a rich trove ofquotations for readers to cull and meditate. The book includes an appendix listing courses taken by Eliot at Harvard, a good bibliography, and a beautifully prepared index. While one will, no doubt, disagree with the assessment of this or that figure—I would draw a different picture of Santayana, for example—or wonder at an occasional omission— Alexius Meinong contributed to Eliot's concept of die "half-object," yet is not mentioned—one ends in being convinced of Professor Jain's mastery. She possesses a lucid and objective mind and has perfected an ear for Eliot's ironies. Admittedly, the book implies advocacy for Eliot's course toward Christianity. There will dawn in some readers an annoyance as Eliot picks apart one, then another of his mentors and their heroes—finding their errors and inadequacies with almost surgical accuracy. Is it really true that Eliot's "sense of human imperfection is perhaps as deep as, ifnot deeper than that ofSt. Augustine" (p. 239)? Are we supposed to see him as die man whose powers surpassed his professors', but who knew better than to waste a career? Certainly Eliot's intellect and, as importantly, intellectual couragewere of the first water, but at age twenty-four and twenty-five he was diffident enough about his work, despite the bravado of the essays he contributed to Royce's and others' seminars. Jain's stated purpose is to recreate Eliot's intense search for answers to certain questions. As she tells it, he ransacked philosophy butfailed to find the answers there which he would eventually find in the church. One wants to remember, however, not to assume post hoc ergo propter hoc. Jain notes in her conclusion that Eliot believed the poet who was also a metaphysician "would be a monster" (p. 244; quoted from Eliot's introduction to Valéry's Le Serpent). Reading the record of his philosophical studies and comparing diose diemes to his criticism is exciting, but the insights into Eliot's poetry one gleans from his Harvard years turn out to be relatively few and mosdy indirect. This book will probably not significantly alter the generally accepted picture of Eliot's poetic development as we have it from Gray, Gordon, and others. But it deepens and complicates that portrait in wonderful ways, for which we all should be grateful. San José State UniversityPaul Douglass Charles Sanders Peirce: A Life, by Joseph Brent; xiv & 388 pp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993, $35.00. The wag who observed diat Ralph Waldo Emerson was a man "without a handle" could not have known intimately the life of Charles Sanders Peirce. Widely considered America's most original thinker, Peirce was die great Reviews181 polymath of the nineteenth century—a mathematician, philologist, geodicist, cartographer, engineer, chemist, historian of science, amateur theologian, the originator of pragmatism and patriarch of modern semiotics. Yet for all his genius, Peirce's life was a litany of failures, humiliations, and degradations, many self-inflicted. He never held a job commensurate with his genius; he suffered life-long from a painful facial neuralgia that led him to opium and cocaine for relief; he was incurably manic-depressive, frequently suicidal, and suffered numerous nervous breakdowns. He was also violent, devious, abusive (especially toward women and underlings), and consummately self-serving. Yet in a lifetime that often reads like one of Edgar Allan Poe's nightmarish tales, Peirce still managed to write a bookshelf of brilliant philosophical and scientific discourses that have genuinely revolutionized our thinking about thinking. Joseph Brent's superb study is the first full-length biography of Peirce. Written originally in 1960 as a doctoral dissertation, Brent's manuscript disappeared into the underworld of Peircean scholarship until unearthed in 1990 by Professor Thomas A. Sebeok, who convinced Brent to update and expand the manuscript into its present form. The result is a major addition to Peirce studies, a book that both illuminates many of the mysteries of Peirce's erratic personal life and provides crucial insights into the evolution and refinement of his philosophy. Brent sees Peirce's life as the tragedy of a genius who lacked almost any sense of personal or...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 180-182
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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