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182Philosophy and Literature pages on prominent friends, famüiars, and rivals ofher protagonist (e.g. Nizan, Aron, Merleau-Ponty, Bataüle); and she provides a fascinating assessment of such majorjournals as Esprit, Critique, and La Nouvelle Critique. More generaUy, Boschetti's work constitutes a suggestive reflection on the reasons texts are written and read in certain ways at certain times. Boschetti's work, however, is not entirely persuasive. She often relies on conventional psychology to account for certain attitudes: for instance, Zola's depiction of professors as faüed writers is explained by his flunking his exams and his being rejected as a candidate for the Académiefrançaise (p. 16). She also frequendy takes "sociological" shortcuts: the dispositions characterizing the personalists of Esprit—they are first-generation Catholic inteUectuals who come from the upwardly mobüe and salaried provincial (lower) middle class—account for their group ethos: "an ascetic and meritocratic, spiritualist, and elitist moral rectitude" (p. 156). Above all, in her attempt to prove that cultural production and cultural success are governed by the configuration of the cultural field, she leaves litde room for individual choice and action or, if one prefers, for disorder and chance. In spite of these reservations, I believe that Boschetti succeeds in showing how much a Bourdieu-inspired sociology of culture can contribute to literary and philosophical criticism and history. University of PennsylvaniaGerald Prince Albert Camus, The Stranger, by Patrick McCarthy; xii & 109 pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, $5.95 paper. The Stranger is a twentieth-century classic, a book that defined us when we read it just after World War II, a book that continues to define us but that keeps shifting and multiplying its meanings with every new reader and interpretation . It is a "landmark"—to use the word for the series in which Patrick McCarthy's book has been published—an event that signaled a turning point in the craft of fiction and in self-understanding. Though we each have our own Meursault, our own interpretation of his story, we look forward to the appearance of still another among the thousands of studies of The Stranger, to see what discoveries have been made, what meanings have been added to the top of the mountain. It is a litde like watching Sisyphus at work: there wUl always be another reading to carry up. McCarthy's contribution to die endless interpretation of The Stranger, whUe more modest than his previous book on Camus, is like it in its brashness, Reviews183 liveliness, provocativeness, and willingness to take chances. Though it avoids the jargon of recent criticism, it uses elements of theories and methodologies from structuralism to deconstruction and reaches back to Marx and Freud for ideas that will explain the text. It also strives to be a synthesis of existing interpretations of The Stranger. The book opens with "Contexts," sketches of Camus's life and the social, cultural, and historical background of The Stranger. In Chapter 2, the bulk of the study, McCarthy examines the novel episode by episode, commenting on various aspects of each in the light of concepts drawn from structuralism, psychoanalysis, sociology, and theology. A third chapter places Camus's novel in the context of other works in the cycle of the Absurd and compares TL· Stranger with Sartre's Nausea and TL· Wall. The last chapter shows how Sartre and others shaped our understanding of TL· Stranger, evaluates influences, and ends with advice for further reading and a comment on Visconti's unsuccessful film of the story. "Meursault's Languages," perhaps the most important part of McCarthy's study, points out the various kinds of utterance—or silence—used in TL· Stranger, but stresses the languages of authority (the law, the courts, lawyers, police, etc.) and dissent (Meursault and his "friends," the oppressed, generally, both honest and criminal, the Arab victims) and shows how, finally, the language of authority is subverted by its victims. McCarthy's interest in language is one of the unifying threads of his essay. Another is what he terms the "psychoanalytical novel" in TL· Stranger, the "incestuous" character of Meursault's relationship with his mother and unconscious motivation in general in the fiction. In the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 182-183
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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