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Shorter Reviews1 39 Sender and Addressee to use in decoding the Message. But a text contains many messages which function at various levels using different codes. The codes of the Addressee are likely to be different from those of the Sender. The Addressee must actualize the Message; open texts exploit the role of the Addressee who must cooperate with the author to make a reading through involved "textual inference based upon an intertextual competence" (pp. 4-5). AU texts in this way are open to a degree, but those Eco terms as "open" exploit this cooperation most fully. The author of the open text must posit a Model Reader who is "supposedly able to deal interpretatively with the expressions in the same way as the author deals generatively with them" (p. 7). The open text points to and creates its own Model Reader. Closed texts, on the other hand, are those which are open to everyone; that is, where the author has no concept of a Model Reader who generates a reading based on intertextual competency and shared codes, but instead the end (the reading) ofthe text is predetermined and formulaic. Closed texts rely on iterative schemes with which the reader is already familiar; in fact, the reader of the closed text has a "hunger for redundancy" (p. 120). Open texts are characterized by their "pluraprobability" while closed texts rely on fulfillment of the reader's forecasts. Most of Eco's book is devoted to analyses of various open and closed texts (the seventh essay, "Peirce and the Semiotic Foundations of Openness," might easily have been subsumed by the long introduction). The essay on "Edenic language" is meant to show the generative semantics of a simple semiotics; this is amusing, but the semiotics is too simple to make the analogy to semantic generation in texts. The readings of the closed texts (Superman comics, the James Bond novels, and Eugene Sue's Les Mystères de Paris) are all illuminating and prove Eco's point about the intertextual frame and iterative schemes. Eco is more suggestive than absolutely convincing when he deals with open texts. The few pages on Finnegans Wake offer much in the way of explaining the codified and codifying métonymie relations and the functions of the puns (as does his suggestion of the Einsteinian rather than Viconian nature of the Wake). But the 54-page symbolic explanation of a 5-page "metanarrative text" seems unnecessarily cumbersome, repetitive, and unclear. On the whole, however, this book has a great deal to offer and should prove to be provocative for anyone interested in narratives. Ohio State UniversityLeonard Orr On the Margins of Discourse: The Relation of Literature to Language, by Barbara Herrnstein Smith; xvii & 225 pp. Chicago and London: University ofChicago Press, 1978, $12.50. This book consists of four previously published articles and a series of three lectures. Its focal point is the distinction between what Professor Smith calls 140Philosophy and Literature "natural" and "fictive" discourse. By "natural discourse," she means something like (genuine) speech acts, whereas "fictive discourse" is the representation of such acts. In two of the earlier pieces, she maintains that "fictiveness" is "the characteristic quality" of poetry "in the broad sense," or of "verbal artworks" (pp. lOff, 14, 24ff). Although she later claims not to be defining "'poetry' ... or any other traditional terms or concepts" (p. 85), she nevertheless seems to continue to take "fictiveness" as a necessary (but not sufficient) condition of "verbal artworks." While the context of a "natural utterance" is "historically determinate," the context of a "fictive utterance" is "historically indeterminate" (pp. 33, 138, et passim). By this she means (though she does not always clearly distinguish between these three senses) (1) that the particulars of, e.g., a poem (persons, things, events, and so on) are not locatable in the historical world because the "reference" to them is pretended, not real (pp. 29ff.), (2) that for those particulars of any given poem we can properly posit any one of an infinite set of different possible contexts, and (3) that the historical context in which the author created the work (including, in particular, his intentions in writing the work) imposes no essential...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 139-141
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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