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Reviews191 Having argued that a modern novel (by which he means West European and American fiction in the twentieth century) focuses on plot, he then proceeds to divide up kinds of plot by their handling of time and the persons and events they create or carry along with them. Barely noting historical, cultural, or linguistic differences between his novelists—two Americans, two British, and two Germans—he assumes a transparency of interest with his three thinkers without considering their cultural and ideological purposes or even their historical contexts. After aU, modern is modern,just as much as novels are novels. The reference to a Wisdom tradition in the development of the novel ought to be foUowed through, as well as a much more detaüed analysis ofhis argument in relation to Bakhtin's dialogic imagination and heteroglossia as defining qualities of the novel as genre and cultural discourse. Then we would be dealing with historical problems not vague conceptual modes; we would have to fix eachwriterinto hisorherownspecificprogressivedevelopmentandbidfareweU to easy generalities; and we would, finaUy, have to front up to the textuality of the novel as a literary mode and not treat it as a Platonic reflection either of reality or of phüosophical discourse. University of Waikato, New ZealandNorman Simms Philosophy and the Art of Writing, by Berel Lang; 246 pp. East Brunswick, New Jersey: Bucknell University Press, 1983, $28.50. Berel Lang taunts us with the assertion that "art is short, life is long." This reversal of the "vita brems, ars longa" reaffirms art as a process contingent on human life and fortune. It also provides a clue to his work based on his own view of reading and criticism. The historical context, Lang's point of departure, is the müieu in which humans create and exhaust their being dirough their doing and in which they execute aU their literary works including phüosophical ones. Lang argues that phüosophical discourses (texts) are historicaUy bound and wül exhibit stylistic features that reflect the face of their maker within the maker's historical context. Thus, phUosophers and critics provide viewpoints that mirror the textual maker 's (author's) face. In support of his thesis that there is at least a weak connection between phüosophical form (Shapiro's constant form) and its import, Lang proposes a working hypothesis which divides phüosophical writings into four types: (1) the dialogue, (2) the meditation or essay, (3) the commentary, and (4) the treatise. Using this classification for his analysis, he arrives at the conclusion that the 192Philosophy and Literature form of expression chosen by phUosophers is not an accidental feature of phüosophical discourse but an integral part of its meaning (understood as all acts, including interpretations and aU other consequences resulting from the discourse). By subjecting phüosophical literature to the traditional humors, Langexhibits satire in Moore's Utopia, romance in Leibniz's Monadology, and farce and irony in Plato's dialogues. Essential to irony (the characteristic phüosophical humor) and philosophy is the distinction between appearance and reality which finds its classical formulation in the Platonic dialogues. The analysis of irony in the dialogues is Lang's tour de force. Out of it he develops the notion of the authorial point of view which, according to him, wül resolve and make intelligible the text both for the reader and the critic. Barring purely symbolic languages ofmathematicians and logicians, Lang suggests that discourses exhibit a perspective which enables the critic to reveal the face of the author as well as his own and provide the critic with the ground for the discourse which reconcUes the famüies ofmeaning within and without the work. For Lang, this process of reconcüiation is guided by the concern of coherence and consistency viewed as Hegelian dialectic which approximates the process of discourse. Lang's essays exhibit some profound insights into the analytical tradition as well as the contextualism of Stephen Pepper and Lewis Hahn. He is at home with literary texts and phüosophical ones. In addition, he has a keen grasp of the various approaches to criticism, e.g., criticism as a subsidiary activity in the service of the text...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 191-192
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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