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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 can be gained through restoring Nietzsche's theory of tragedy to a German context . His coupling of the aesthetical with the metaphysical is surely rooted in that long line of German theorizers whom Stern so helpfully traces from Lessing through Kant, Schiller, Schelling, Schopenhauer, and Hegel. But to reduce Nietzsche's theory to a German context, or think of him as "projecting his experience of Wagner back on the Greeks" (p. 263), is to miss that eternal contradiction at the core of Anaximander's metaphysics and Nietzsche's reason for conceiving of Aeschylus as within The Tragic Age of the Greeks. Long Island UniversityElinor J. M. West Contemporary Literary Hermeneutics and Interpretation of Classical Texts, edited by Stephanus Kresic; viii & 332 pp. Ottawa: Ottawa University Press, 1981, $12.75. This bilingual collection of papers, many of which were presented at a symposium at the University of Ottawa in 1978, brings together persons working in philosophical hermeneutics and classical literary scholarship in order to establish "a creative and critical dialogue between philosophical understanding of what interpretation should do and literary interpretation by Classical scholars" (p. 8). The task set for the philosophers is overwhelming. The classicists want to learn of work in philosophical hermeneutics so that they can develop new skills and perspectives. The philosophical contribution is not, however, a new method. Instead, it is clear that what emerged at this symposium is the demand made by philosophical hermeneutics that philological scholars examine their presuppositions with regard to language, truth, historicity, and method. The first section, "Literary Interpretation: Philosophical Grounding," presents five philosophical essays. The three essays presented at the colloquium share the common emphasis expressed by Richard Palmer: "Philosophical hermeneutics is not a competing form of methodological hermeneutics — a superior method of exegesis — but a body of critical reflection about the event of understanding. It is directed to expanding the context of interpretation, not cutting old-fashioned philology out" (p. 32). Palmer surveys the history of hermeneutics to situate both the philosophical and philological approaches. Philosophical hermeneutics challenges philological hermeneutics by showing its limits when it gets "bogged down in positivism" (p. 25) and by offering "a critique of objectivity, of the determinability of authorial intention" (p. 31). Philology is not rejected, but needs Reviews221 to recognize its place within "a larger criticism of the modern epoch's view of man, of history, of language, of person" (p. 31). Michael Murray and P.J. McCormick show how this larger criticism bears on literary scholarship. Murray focuses on the event of understanding poetry, emphasizing that this event is also the illumination of the everyday world. "The poetic work lights up its own time and its participating audience, invites us to see how. that time is the same and how different from ours . . ." (p. 72). McCormick focuses on the question of literary truth and shows how the analytical and hermeneutical perspectives differ. "Hermeneutic philosophers are less concerned to analyze the truth conditions of different kinds of sentences whether literary or non-literary than they are intrigued by the possibility that artworks may provide access to truths that are otherwise unavailable" (p. 84). The two papers by David Hoy and Paul Ricoeur (a reprint of the final chapter of his Interpretation Theory) also expand the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 220-221
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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