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Reviews175 Douglass tries to link Bergsonian ideas to Faulkner's general philosophy, his style, characterization, and treatment oftime in a few novels. But the discussion is slight and generaUy superficial, and reveals almost no awareness of contemporary studies of Faulkner done by Bleikasten, Minter, Sundquist, Wittenburg, and others. Again, the problem of the "affinity" of ideas is not probed adequately . Knowledge of Bergson may have confirmed Faulkner's intuitive beliefs about time, flux, memory, and the élan vital, but he hardly needed the synthetic musing of philosophers to realize them. They were already in his blood. Whitman CollegeJohn F. Desmond Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction, by Jean Starobinski; translated by Arthur Goldhammer, with an Introduction by RobertJ. Morrissey; xxxviii & 421 pp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988, $60.00 cloth, $19.95 paper. The most amazing feature about the publication of this book is that there has been no English translation of this seminal work in the thirty years since its first publication. Written originally as a doctoral thesis and published in 1957, fean-facques Rousseau: la transparence et l'obstacle was immediately hailed as a major contribution to studies on Rousseau. An initial review by PierreHenri Simon in Annalesfean-facques Rousseau astutely noted that the main theme of the work appears in the subtitle; Rousseau's works are analyzed using these two concepts, "a nostalgia for transparency and ... a phobia of veils and obstacles," as organizing principles. The result is neither a biography nor a systematic analysis of ideas but a study of Rousseau's life and works using a completely new perspective. A second, revised French edition, accompanied by seven critical essays that had appeared between 1962 and 1970, was published in 1970 and was widely reviewed with many references to the central place this work had assumed in Rousseau studies. Indeed, in the last thirty years any serious study of Rousseau has had to take account of Starobinski's magisterial work that has, in the words of one reviewer, "a phenomenological objective . . . the reconstruction of the total situation lived by Jean-Jacques Rousseau." This is not a work tiiat can be ignored by literary critics, historians of ideas, political scientists, or even philosophers . Starobinski's work touches on aU these fields. For this reason, and also because Rousseau himself is central to so much current debate in aU these areas, the appearance ofsuch an exceUent English translation is cause for much j°y- 176Philosophy and Literature This translation is based on the 1970 edition and includes the seven essays. Goldhammer had already translated Starobinski's Montaigne in Motion, thereby coming to grips with the extremely difficult task of setting Starobinski's tighdy controUed and elegant French prose into readable English. As Morrissey remarks inhis informativeintroductoryessayonStarobinski's methodology, Goldhammer had a particularly thorny problem since so few English speakers are at home in the phenomenological vocabulary essential to Starobinski's analyses. The translation of the tide is a case in point. Substituting "obstruction" for "obstacle" is Goldhammer's way of alerting the English reader to the fact that the opposition Starobinski is trying to elucidate is so fundamental that Rousseau could never overcome it. Thus what we have in this translation is a very English point of view, reinforced by the choices Goldhammer was forced to make. Of course, any translation is an interpretation, but this particular one is even more so. We end up with something close to a set of Chinese boxes: Rousseau's texts in which he is analyzing himself, Starobinski's text in which he is analyzing Rousseau, Goldhammer's text in which he is analyzing Starobinski, and, as a coda, Perkins's review in which she is analyzing Goldhammer. Despite this labyrinthian structure, let me hasten to add that anyone who cannot read French wül be weU served by this translation. For those who are pressed for time, a reading of chapter six entiüed "Misunderstandings" will give the bare outlines of Starobinski's argument and wiU surely whet the appetite for more. Swarthmore CollegeJean A. Perkins György Lukács andtheLiteraryPretext, by Eva L. Corredor; xviii & 225 pp. New York: Peter Lang, 1987, $46.50. It has been the major contribution of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 175-176
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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