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212Philosophy and Literature end it does not only lead us to understand the books of the author: it discloses life itself. Thus criticism is the necessary complement to artwork, contributing to the social function of the work and understanding books as "the score of a civilization" (p. 30). That criticism need not be a pedantic, Beckettesque monologue, but can become a poetic, dialectical adventure, is forcefully brought home to the reader by the titles of Lydon's chapters ("The Music of Time," "Train of Thoughts," "The Smithy of the Soul," and so forth) and by the suggestive quotations, from either Butor or other writers, which head each new line of thought. Unqualified and alert love of the texts recurrently prompts Lydon to elicit as starting points the keys which Butor provided in his works as tools for elucidating them. But Lydon also displays a vast knowledge of other writers and philosophers , those great intercessors with whose works Butor engages in dialogue in his own writings. Mallarmé's voice can be heard all throughout Lydon's book. In the chapters analyzing Butor's first four novels, Lydon creates a helpful echo chamber of traditions. Thus Passage de Milan is put into relation to Balzac, Proust, and Joyce. L'Emploi du temps evokes affinities with Joyce, Sartre, and Proust. La Modification is studied in relation to Dante and Michelangelo's Creation ofMan. Degrés embodies Pound's figure of the voyage of discovery and Vico's conceptions of history and social relations. In each one of these cases Lydon is not practicing an external comparison; rather, she shows the inner workings of Butor's texts by throwing them into relief with those of other writers: she reveals how Butor's work does not just mirror the tradition but generates a new interpretation of it. In the last third of her book Lydon grapples with Butor's experimental works, Mobile, Illustrations, Description de San Marco, 6. 810. 00 Litres d'eau par seconde, and Portrait de l'artiste en jeune singe. Here Butor evidently aims to revolutionize our attitudes to reading, to books, and ultimately to the world we live in — by sensitizing us to various typographical innovations . Rather than deepening the thematic exploration she so successfully employs in the discussion of Butor's earlier novels, Lydon unfortunately (in my view) intersperses her study with lengthy defenses against the many detractors and hectorings which have greeted these later exploratory writings. Lydon's intentions are laudable: the desire to bring Butor the recognition he deserves and has not yet achieved from the Englishspeaking readership. Still, the systematic rectification of negative critiques is itself a distraction from Butor's works and their main intent: close observation and poetic understanding of our concrete reality and of our rapidly changing historic condition. Mount Allison UniversityLiliane Welch Pascal: Adversary and Advocate, by RobertJ. Nelson, ? & 286 pp. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981, $22.50. Nelson's study, without apparent intent, makes clear that if we ask whether Pascal is a philosopher or an apologist, the response must be an apologist. To be an advocate or an adversary, as Nelson has shown Pascal to be, precludes his being a philosopher. While, without a plethora of qualifications, I would not personally like to defend the thesis that Reviews213 Pascal is not a philosopher, it must be admitted that Nelson brings out something central in this seventeenth-century Frenchman. Looking at Pascal's philosophical contemporaries , there is a definite difference in character between them and Pascal, and this difference marks Pascal the apologist. At bottom the difference is that Pascal is a man of religious experiences and motivations, and while one may argue that many of Pascal's philosophical contemporaries were religious, their writings were not so quintessentially rooted in religion. Nelson's study captures this dimension of Pascal, and consequently aids us in understanding just what manner of "philosopher" Pascal is. Pascal's internal "dialectic" mat Nelson sees moving from conservative to liberal to conservative is not Hegelian, but seems rather a simple change of voice brought about by a change of perspective — not changed by growth. In his moves to adjust himself to the vagaries of history and to respond most...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 212-214
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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