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Reviews311 entombed in diis volume. The less said of Eric Rabkin's Freudian, or perhaps only quasiFreudian , interpretation of utopianism as sexual atavism die better. Simon Fraser UniversityD. D. Todd Noveb andArguments: Inventing Rhetorical Criticism, by Zahava Karl McKeon; ix & 260 pp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982, $22.50. Zahava Karl McKeon advances a thesis in her study Noveb and Arguments diat is both elegandy simple and — widiin the perhaps unnecessEirily restricted terms of her discussion — completely demonstrable. She claims that "the history of the novel Eind the history of criticism of the novel are in fact a single history, since what happens to the novel and what the novel is thought to be at any time are reflexively interdependent" (p. 229). McKeon, recognizing the pedagogic orientation ofrhetorical criticism, has no reason to conceal or apologize for her learned and meticulous rehabilitation of the language of die classroom in her effort to demonstrate that both novel and novel criticism are to be considered as "communicative object' rather dian as poetic structure, grammatical structure, or as dialectical structure. A communicative structure does not reveal pattern plot or archetype: "it reveals an argument . . . and is dynamic" (p. 15). The very time-ridden dynamics that haunt most anti-rhetorical system builders is for this Chicagoan the handle ofcomprehensibility . The rhetorical stance here proposed frees criticism from certain arbitrary and abstract categories — genre, for example, while taken very seriously is to be settled for a particular time and place: "When we engage in rhetorical analysis, the status ofthe object of analysis CEinnot be taken for granted" (p. 20). McKeon is not unaware of die disreputable condition into which the rhetorical reduction ofliterary theory has fallen. She speEiks ofa phenomenon that "transformed, flattened and petrified critical methods into exposition, description, narration and argument to fit a pedagogy that had completely desiccated the Eirt of rhetoric" (p. 31). When she uses a text to illustrate, for example, one of die four modes of discourse, she emphasizes that it may also be read through the lens of any ofthe other modes. And yet it is her Eiim to find those special features diat make us recognize die difference, say, between Dewey's The Public and its Problems on the one hand and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice on die other. It is, McKeon tells us, when we read demonstratively the we read any text as a novel. She says that we attribute to this text "characteristics of discourse itself: style, arrangement, mEinners of speech and what they imply, linguistic devices or tropes, and so on" (p. 72). The demonstrative reading which characterizes the novel eis such is itself susceptible to being organized and genetically designated by means of the four modes of discourse applied analytically. Application ofthe four modes ofdiscourse to die demonstratively read fictive argument takes up the center of McKeon's study. Her exemplary texts include The Tin Drum, Robert CooVei^s The Origin ofthe Brunùts, and several texts of Flannery O'Connor which 312Philosophy and Literature take up McKeon's attention in the final analytic section. It is here where we encounter what McKeon refers to as the translative structure of O'Connor's universe that we come near the heart of what she means by the "reflexive interdependency" of the novel and the theory ofthe novel. Like the interplay of the two worlds of grace and nature in, for example , "Parker's Back," the interplay between fiction and analysis of fiction is possible because each agent in each case is manifest in a universe of discourse. Each universe of discourse is, of course, governed by the interests and activities of rhetoric. Butjust as O'Connor's fiction is not a theological tract, neither is McKeon's a rhetorical tract. It is a concentrated, patient, and often passionate defense of our ability to encompass the matching ambiguities ofdie Etrtistic and the human enterprise witiiin a context of meaning rather than its opposite. California State University, Los AngelesSharon Bassett Blindness and Insight, Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism, second edition, by Paul de Man; Introduction by Wlad Godzich; xxx & 308 pp. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983, $29.50. Paul de Mem is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 311-312
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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