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188Philosophy and Literature semiology of the self" which "wiU show that the separation is artifice" (p. 342). Those same signs that are interpreted are themselves signs of an interpretative act: "The interpretive act is the presence and actualization of the self's sign system and it yearns to be recovered—through interpretation itself" (p. 345). The chapters on Merleau-Ponty form the core of the book in more ways than one. More overdy than the other phUosophers dealt with here, MerleauPonty worked within this struggle between phenomenology and structuralism and it is here that Silverman's discussion of ambiguity is best able to play on that dialogue and become genuinely exciting. The chapters on Husserl and Heidegger are, in a sense, introductory and the discussion of Derrida seems less original ifonly because Derrida makes his own case so well. But it is, without doubt, a real advantage to have the whole dialogue drawn together into one volume which is worthwhüe for its discussion of Merleau-Ponty alone. University of EssexDavid Pollard Samuel Johnson and Three Infidels: Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, by Mark Temmer; 212 pp. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988, $25.00. This volume is clearly the culmination of years of reflection on the writers under scrutiny, their psychological and intellectual make-up and its effect on their work, the social and political climate that formed them, and the impact of their writings on their time. It wUl surely achieve one of the major goals the author has set for himself, namely to reacquaint Johnsonians with the three great writers ofFrench eighteenth-century prose and to remind French scholars ofJohnson's impact on his century both as man and writer. The first chapter contrasts Johnson and Rousseau, tracing their lives and evaluating their achievements. Temmer knows the work of both writers intimately and is completely famUiar with the concerns of the two societies in which they moved. He is also in full command of the extensive corpus of critical studies avaUable on his topic. The parallelism he tries to demonstrate, however, is not always convincing. Johnson and Rousseau have such different personalities , and what separates their oudook is often more apparent than areas of agreement. They often seem more alien than simüar, and Temmer's argument seems forced at times. Yet Temmer's judicious confrontation of texts and his comments on the resemblances he perceives are always subde. His analysis, even when not fully acceptable, enhances the reader's comprehension of the complexity of each writer's personality and thought. Chapter II is an expanded version of a 16-page article entided "Candide and Reviews189 Rasselas Revisited" that Temmer published in the Revue de littérature comparée in 1982. Although both contes philosophiques were published in the same year, 1759, and there is general agreement that both are masterpieces, no reciprocal influences are known or apparent. Temmer deplores the lack ofattention paid by French critics to Rasselas and blames their English colleagues for lack of appreciation of Voltaire's wit and style. He describes both works and places them into the contexts of history of ideas and literary tradition. The impact of England on Voltaire and his relations with British writers are sketched. Intellectual and literary connections are deftly traced. Temmer's presentation of the phüosophical background is clear and succinct, as is his analysis of Voltaire's and Johnson's views on optimism. The author's skül in directing his readers to look at a well-known work from different and fresh perspectives is particularly evident in the section where he examines Candide and Rasselas in the light of the concept of the Bildungsroman. After raising stimulating questions and answering them one after the other by confronting texts, he reaches the conclusion that "whether Candide and Rasselas are Bildungsromane depends on one's interpretation of the structure and significance of the two masterpieces. . . . they are and they aren't" (p. 102). A definite statement is not needed; the investigation is the key to understanding. The final chapter consists of a comparison between Johnson's Hfe of Savage and Diderot's Neveu de Rameau. Modesüy entitled "Speculations," the chapter seeks to demonstrate the influence...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 188-190
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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