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Reviews219 Bell-Villada is a polemicist more than an astute critic when he speculates on Borges's place in American literature. Particularly in the last chapter, "Literature and Politics North and South," he is given to dropping impressionistic bombs such as the following: "The American 1950s were a desert, a bleak stretch relieved only by one or two entertainments by Nabokov; for barrenness, few literary epochs can match the Cold War years. The quiet arrival of Borges's Englished fiction was to make a key difference for the 1960s; his dreamlike artifices helped stimulate a writing culture all too steeped in WASPsuburban metaphysics and Jewish-novel neorealism" (p. 268). Despite such sensational remarks, the book is worth a serious reading. Bell-Villada's "practical" views are guaranteed to raise hackles and eyebrows among professional critics. But there is much useful information here which should not be overlooked. Midway CollegeWilliam Slaymaker Nietzsche On Tragedy, by M. S. Silk and J. P. Stern; 441 pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981, $56.50. In the first half of this ten chapter study, old and new facts from Nietzsche's university days are adroitly woven into a fascinating description of differing German attitudes toward Hellenic culture. Winckelmann and Goethe, in love with Greek art objects, take the noble beauty of the ageless Hellene as an ideal for German culture. But classical philologists, unconcerned for the quality of culture, disinterestedly eye such antiquities and dedicate themselves to a scientific reconstruction of ancient manuscripts. Into this scene steps the brilliant, if half-willing, young Nietzsche with a book which might be described as a culture experiment in "Wagnerian philology." Any reader of Silk and Stern will be prepared for die confrontation to follow: on the one side are the defenders ofpure scholarship, on the other, those who would use learning in the interests of art and life. Then, after listening to Nietzsche's later self-criticism and appreciatively hearing about the more favorable réévaluations of recent scholars, the reader looks forward to the ideas of Silk and Stern in the remaining chapters. He is disappointed . There is no insightful look into Nietzsche's genius; no fresh appreciation of how his unorthodox ideas light up areas of heretofore darkened Hellenic landscape. And what is to be found are fresh misconceptions — this one for instance: unless Nietzsche pretends diat his theory of tragedy is applicable to Aeschylus, diere can be no rebirth of tragedy out of the spirit of Wagnerian music (pp. 256-57). And so Nietzsche is thought to varnish the truth out of loyalty to Wagner. How can two such well-intentioned scholars have gone so wrong? If images are eyes through which to see the world freshly, how can one hope to elucidate the thought of an imaginative genius by classifying his images as "centripetal," "literal," or "paraliteral?" To treat Nietzsche's metaphors conceptually is to bind up the eyes of his thought. Nor is the language of the dream-maker Aeschylus alien to what Nietzsche has to say of the genuine poet. On the contrary, looking at the house of Atreus through the eyes of an Apollinian Aeschylus, what is to be found is not rhetorical figure but vicarious image in place of concept. 220Philosophy and Literature Agamemnon reluctantly steps upon those purple garments strewn in his path. Great is the shame he feels at spoiling such a "silver's worth ofwebs." But it is the feel of the house's wealth beneath the king's feet which brings thoughts of a different sort of fabric, i.e., the net which he had himself cast over Troy in revenge for the taking of Helen. Suddenly, what is felt is fear of Agamemnon's being trapped in this very same net, in revenge for his sacrifice of Iphigeneia. Doesn't the purple fabric speak darkly of disaster? For as the King walks, the Queen talks of its sea-staining and predicts that the purple ooze in which these garments have been dipped will ever of itself be renewed. With the disintegration of this image into such sensory associations what isfelt is the justice of a Dionysian disindividuation already at work in the world. Much...


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