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302Philosophy and Literature tionality (pp. 36-55), he touches poststructural concerns, but his restricted conception of the unconscious and of ideology preclude serious consideration of radical interpretations of Freud or Marx. He summarizes die historicist implications of Foucault^ early work, but argues that Foucaulfs findings are largely "unexceptionable" (p. 118). Strickland oudines Derrida's challenge to interpretive certainty on several occasions, yet never meets him on the same theoretical grounds. Strickland's objections to die positivistic strains in certain brands of semiology are well taken, but the central concern ofstructuralism and poststructuralism has been to question the conceptual priority of die subject in theorization, not to achieve objectivity in interpretation . Had Strickland focused on this concern, his responses to Barthes and French theory in general might have been more convincing. University of GeorgiaRonald L. Bogue A Critique ofModern Textual Criticism, by Jerome J. McGann; 146 pp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983, $12.50. Despite the tide's promise, Jerome McGann's book is not a systematic methodological or epistemological critique, but a set of related essays on the concepts of authorial intention , its relationship to actual works of literature, and the effect of certain assumptions about work and author in recent editorial theory, especially Fredson Bowers's. "To see 'autiWs intentions' as the basis for a 'rationale of copy texf is to confuse the issues involved," McGann insists in his summary (p. 128). His claims tiius tend to be broad, and his prose at times polemical. Though he does not use exactly these terms, McGann appears dissatisfied primarily with the established ontology of the "ideal" work, especially for literature of die past three centuries or so. The tradition of Bowers and Tanselle declares audiorial manuscripts generally closer dian early editions to the ideal work that text critics attempt to recover, because that tradition situates die ideal in the author's consciousness and considers all attempts to mediate this work — including the manuscript itself— as flawed. McGann does not share this idealism, which he calls "Romantic." He tells us that "an author's work possesses autonomy only when it remains an unheard melody. As soon as it begins its passage to publication it undergoes a series of interventions which some textual critics see as a process of contamination, but which may equally well be seen as a process oftraining die poem for its appearances in the world. . . . Many persons besides the author are engaged in these events, and the entire process constitutes the life of an important social institution at the center of which is the literary work itself . . ." (pp. 51-52). Over against die notion of die audior as creator of text, then, McGann sets die effects of production, in "the world of textual versions where intentions are plainly shifting and changing under the pressure ofvarious people and circumstances." (See p. 62; cf. p. 89; it will no doubt be objected that the problem of fragmented intentions, as revealed by multiple versions, has already been treated with some subtlety by Tanselle, Thorpe, and Reviews303 others.) Describing the text as a "literary artifact" produced by die collaboration of the author with the "literary institutions of the time," McGann thinks an early edition generally preferable to the manuscript as base text (pp. 20-21, 125-27). Though McGann does not treat the point, it would seem that admitting collaboration at publication as textually legitimate raises the very basic question ofwhy and when a textual critic need undertake emendation for improvement's sake (as opposed to correction of mechanical errors; pp. 40-41). The book is brief indeed, considering the importance of these issues and the recent explosion in the secondary literature. McGann's study barely touches on die question of whether editing post-Renaissance texts is in fact a "theorizable" operation, and he does not always distinguish between the practical and the theoretical aspects oftextual editing. The potential affinity of McGann's arguments with current models in both "reception" studies and "reader-centered" literary theory is obvious. Though some scholars may deplore traditional assumptions of authorial presence, and others may defend the audioes determining role as creator, McGann's asseverations should serve to stimulate a salutary debate. Some of the case...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 302-303
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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