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Reviews207 Whitman says that he aims to presentneithera theory nora history ofallegory, but rather its "dynamics" in the ancient and medieval periods. That is a fair assessment, although he in fact offers elements of both theory and history. He does not, however, give a continuous account of the development of aUegory over time, but focuses instead on texts from selected periods and, within each text, on a few iUuminating passages (his discontinuous method resembles that of much aUegorical exegesis that he describes). The decision to do so was probably wise, since it made for a clearer and more lively book. And yet his perspective is historical in die end, since he depicts the Cosmographia as die convergence and culmination of several related developments. Since that text also, as Whitman shows, undermines the tradition of aUegory as practiced up to that point even while fulfiUing it, the question inevitably arises of why he stops there. If allegory "comes of age" in the twelfth century, what happens after that? The teleological bent is in tension with the occasional glimpses (but no more tiran that) given of later allegorical writing. And if the Cosmographia is a more or less arbitrary stopping point, to what extent is the argument of the book, although elegant, a construct imposed on an actuaUy more fluid practice of aUegory? Still, the texts are well chosen and the discussion of them is compelling. The book is written in a lucid, economical, and graceful style. The reader closes it with a sense that the volatility of allegory faithfully reflects—or more, is one with—what the philosophical and religious systems that use it regard as the contingent state of life in this world, and also the hope, evolved gradually, that the way to transcendence might be through contingency. University of Southern CaliforniaWilliam G. Thalmann Hugh MacDiarmid and tL· Russians, by Peter McCarey; ? & 225 pp. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1987,£12.50. Scottish writing, especiaUy MacPherson, Scott, and Byron, exerted an immense influence on the burgeoning national literatures of Europe in the early nineteenth century and was formative ofnineteenth-century Russian literature. In the twentieth century, Russian poetry, phUosophy, and imaginative writing exerted a powerful repercussive influence on Scottish writing and particularly on the work of Hugh MacDiarmid. McCarey's thesis displays a fine sense of provocation. With the rise of Romantic nationalism, he argues, the classical trunk ofEurope began to disintegrate. Down to the 1940s a great establishment stiU clung to the Europe of Dr. Johnson. Eliot spoke witii the voice of this 208Philosophy and Literature tradition and elected to remain with it, but in MacDiarmid's work there is the inchoation of something new. This is a comparative study of MacDiarmid and Dostoevsky, Solovyov, Blok, Mayakovsky, and Shestov. All six authors cover a catastrophic era in European history and only MacDiarmid (d. 1978) comes forward towards the present. Therefore, both the general historical locations of these writers and also their individual approaches to the spiritual and political problems that faced them demand, and get, exact, balanced and informed attention. McCarey has an intimate knowledge not only of the literatures and philosophies concerned but also—crucially—of the languages in which they were written. The book is intended for the reader who is famUiar with Dostoevsky and curious about MacDiarmid. Each writer is described in terms of his relation to the preceding authors, and biographical information is offered with deliberate selectiveness. The significant connections are judiciously Uluminated and where relevant material is scarce in English, McCareyhas made translations. The result provides ample information for readers unfamUiar with Russian (or the Russian philosophers ) and also a new perspective for those who do know them. A rich bibliography (404 items) is included, but no index. A number of axial discussions are embedded in McCarey's work. Bakhtin's ideas of Menippean satire are explored to link Dostoevsky and MacDiarmid genericaUy, and also bring Nietzsche and MeIvUIe into the configuration. McCarey usefully clears away the mistakes ofearlier, less well-read critics. Then he shows how V. S. Solovyov's moral, cosmological, theocratic, and progressive phüosophical system is resolutely rejected by MacDiarmid in his seminal poem "On a Raised Beach." He contrasts the bathos...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 207-209
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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