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182Philosophy and Literature triumphs, Peirce was unable to win a teaching appointment at Harvard. Instead, he settled for a position widi the U.S. Coastal Survey, ajob he held for nearly diirty years until forced to resign for malfeasance. Conducting experiments for the Survey, he traveled throughout Europe and won fame as a scientist, all the while squandering money (his own and others') recklessly on extravagant living. He began an affair with the mysterious and sickly FrenchwomanJuliette (who claimed to be royalty), eventually marrying her in 1883. Back in America, Peirce lectured at Johns Hopkins for five years, but again failed to gain a permanent position because of his personal life. He and Juliette moved to Milford, Pennsylvania, bought a gothic mansion christened "Arisbe," and gradually sank into destitution while Peirce drove himself to nervous collapse attempting to syndiesize his philosophy. Brent's treatment of Peirce's vast philosophical cornucopia is necessarily limited, but he charts his intellectual development carefully and provides lucid explications of his major ideas, especially the concept of Thirdness now the focus of so much attention among semioticians. Brent develops his narrative with copious excerpts from Peirce's writings and letters, as well as from comments of friends, enemies, and colleagues. But the great virtue of his indispensable study is its compelling portrait of Peirce as a "wasp in a bottle," an Archimedean diinker who, tragically, could not master the square of eardi upon which he alone stood. Whitman CollegeJohn F. Desmond The Strategy ofLetters, by Mette Hjort; ix & 267pp. Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 1993, $37.59. Mette Hjort's intelligent and challenging book seeks to outline the theoretical underpinnings and practical implications of a critical discourse sensitive at once to die instrumental rationality of agents in interactive and conflictual situations and to the social and political conditions largely constitutive of diose situations. She hopes, thus, to mediate between the intentionalist assumptions of "humanist" critics and the "globalizing," "holistic" inclinations of many poststructuralist critics who tteat literary works as consequences, instances, or signs of something else, of language, discourse, or such macro-forces as politics, power, or ideology. At the center of the project is an analysis of "strategic action," i.e., interactive relationships among agents in specific situations at certain moments. In its production, representation, and reception , literature is interactive and often conflictual, and Hjort makes drama her primary textual focus because "generalizations about literary-strategic action Reviews183 can legitimately be made on the basis of discussions of various dramatic documents and institutions." Because of its complex and multifaceted nature, Hjort's argument does not yield to easy summary, but it can be crudely sketched as follows. The first two chapters ("Strategy in the Discourse of Poststructuralism" and "Strategy and the Critique of Humanism") trace the prominence of the term "strategy" in contemporary critical writings and point to a central contradiction in the use of the term and an inclination to attribute "intentional states" to impersonal "global" entities, with Derrida as the chief exhibit of contradiction and Foucault as the primary representative of "globalizing" proclivities, of giving aims and purposes to higher-level political abstractions. Nevertheless, the poststructuralists are correctwhen they call for a "politically responsible critical discourse" and when diey link "strategy to conflict." At the end of the second chapter, Hjort provides thin and thick definitions of "strategic" action, noting that in the "thin" sense strategic action entails instrumental rationality, meansend decisions, and cooperative activity and that the "thick" sense qualifies the means-end rationality with self-interest, enmity, intense desire for victory, and other nasty, egotistical, self-serving attitudes compatible with the command of armies, with which "strategy" is etymologically linked. Aldiough recognizing that motives are often mixed, Hjort focuses her attention throughout the book on strategic action in the "thick" sense, which, she affirms, is the "more interesting and complex" of the two. In subsequent chapters, she examines how "strategists" exploit "frames of interaction," i.e., specific socially constructed situations, to achieve their selfish ends, using selected scenes from Troilus and Cressida to illustrate her points (Chapter Three); considers a variety of "rhetorical strategies" and shows how the strategist evokes the "mimetic strategist," i.e., an antagonist willing to retaliate, to imitate...


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