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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 studies by Philip Gaskell in From Writer to Reader appear to be strong exceptions to McGann's generalization about how authors work with publishing institutions. Samuel Richardson was his own printer; James Joyce, given free rein with the proofs of Ulysses, used them as raw material for further personal decisions about what the text was to contain. Critics and other readers who retain an interest in the audior's deliberate activity will surely recur to Bowers's numerous pertinent remarks in, for example , Textual and Literary Criticism. University of VirginiaRobert Francis Cook TAe Rituals ofLife: Patterns in Narratives, by Langdon Elsbree; viii & 145 pp. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1982, $15.00. Elsbree writes literary criticism from a perspective that takes into account die relationship of narratives to human culture. This perspective, he writes, is diat of"philosophical anthropology"; it is based on the beliefthat "narratives participate in one or more of a few archetypal actions" (p. vii). Elsbree defines ritual with the help of Erik Erikson and philosophers like Cassirer and Langer, yet the author's own approach to the ritualizing process probably has more in common with Jung's studies in archetypes than with any other branch of inquiry into the subject. For Elsbree die "archetypal action" is the basic "synthesizing idea" of his study, which seeks "to explore die relationships between archetypal actions and ritual" (p. 5). After an introductory statement, he devotes individual chapters to what he considers humanity's five most important archetypal actions: establishing and consecrating a home, engaging in a contest or fighting a battle, taking a journey, enduring suffering, and pursuing consummation. In illustrating his basic concepts concerning diese actions, Elsbree draws examples mainly from modern literature and contemporary films, but he also makes illuminating 304Philosophy and Literature comments about die work of Aeschylus, Dante, and Shakespeare. He also provides insights into the philosophical and theological views of many of the audiors he analyzes. In discussing that archetypal action which he evidently believes is most significant for culture — pursuing consummation — he deftly moves from Everyman, Moby Dick, and The Song ofSongs to The Heart ofDarkness, Wuthering Heights, and A Portrait oftheArtist as a Young Man and then examines the "mode of affirmation" in the science fiction ofOlaf Stapledon and Arthur C. Clarke. Elsbree in attempting to illustrate his basic concepts fails to take into account the complexities of some ofhis selected audiors. He speaks, for example, of Flannery O'Connor's "Jansenist view of tilings" and says: "For city people O'Connor has almost no hope whatsoever , since the city is 'nowhere', the place of the doubly damned because diey do not even have the capacity for guilt" (p. 63). Yet in one of her best stories, "The Artificial Nigger," OConnor depicts die redeeming quality of die black community of a soudiern city. Other sweeping statements Eire easily detected, yet Elsbree nevertheless has written a perceptive book, one whose comments illuminate many individual works as well as whole movements in literature. He is particularly good when...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 303-304
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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