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Reviews219 and undercuts his whole project. If inteUectual content is whoUy secondary to emotionalresponse, dien Greek tragedy's status as a "classic" is wholly dependent on the possession or recreation of a personality that responds as the Greek audience did. For whom today must Oedipus be nobly born to be tragic? The unintended consequence is to make tragedy unperformable, despite Heath's interest in performance, for where wül we find such an audience? "Understanding " tragedy in his sense is left only to readers who never ask embarrassing questions about justice or the gods, which might complicate or deflect the evocation of emotion. One wonders if the sacrifice is worth it. Universität KonstanzNiall W Slater Images in Our Souls: Cavell, Psychoanalysis, and Cinema, edited byJoseph H. Smith and William Kerrigan; 209 pp. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1987, $29.50. The tide rather accurately reflects the contents ofthis coUection often essays. The lead off essay is Stanley CaveU's revision of his Weigert Lecture, originaUy delivered to the Washington School of Psychiatry in 1985. Of the nine essays that foUow, two (those by Timothy Gould and Karen Hanson) are primarily explorations of CaveU's ideas; three Oby Stanley R. Palombo, WUliam Rothman, Micheline Klagsbrun Frank) draw upon Cavell in passing; and four (by Robert Winer, Irving Schneider, Bruce Sklarew, Stephen M. Weissman) show litde or no indebtedness to CaveU. Winer's primary influence is Erik Erikson's concept of the life cycle, while Sklarew's tide with its reference to "Preoedipal DevelopmentDisturbances " clearlyindicates the essay's Freudian perspective. Because the essays by Schneider, Sklarew, and Winer are, along with those of CaveU and Frank, the most interesting in the book, the deviation ofparts ofthe volume from a strict focus on CaveU's ideas should be regarded as a merit rather tiian a defect. CaveU's essay begins and ends by exploring the dieme of "the faüure ... of a woman's unknownness to prove her existence to a man, to become created by a man" (p. 37) in Max Ophuls's film Letter from an Unknown Woman. In between he recapitulates themes from his other works—chiefly TL· Claim of Reason (1979) and Pursuits ofHappiness (1981)—discourses on his indebtedness to Descartes, Wittgenstein, Freud, Kant, Emerson, Nietzsche, Shakespeare's Winter's Tale, and Lacan (among others), and offers a tribute to Greta Garbo, "the most fascinating, cinematic image on film of the unknown woman" (p. 36). The essay is dense, aUusive, highly stimulating; it is also in some respects maddening. For one thing, it reads like the opening chapter of a book—but 220Philosophy and Literature not the one before us. Early in the essay CaveU lists nine films which exemplify the genre he dubs "the melodrama of the unknown woman" (p. 18), but only one—Letterfrom an Unknown Woman—is discussed in sufficient detaü to clarify the generalizations he makes about it. One looks in vain for the chapters which substantiate CaveU's views on Blonde Venus, Stetta Dallas, Showboat, Now Voyager, Random Harvest, Mildred Pierce, Gaslight, and TL· Marquise of O. CaveU is also unduly fond of sweeping generalizations, which are neither supported nor adequately explained: e.g., "film. . . is from first to last more interested in the study of individual women than of individual men" (p. 29). Does he mean that more films focus on female protagonists than on male (an assertion that would seem demonstrably untrue)? Or is the key word here "study," which perhaps impues a more thorough examination of a character's interior life than is normaUy found in male-dominated action films? And what does he mean when he further states that "it is women that bequeath psychic depth to film's interests" (p. 29)? Do only the female characters in film possess "psychic deptii," or do the male characters only reveal their psychic depth in relationships with female characters? Nevertheless, despite (or perhaps even because of) its ambiguities, CaveU's essay is a highly provocative treatment of crucial issues of gender and identity in phUosophy, psychoanalysis, and film. The remainder of the essays are aU worth reading, not merely in relation to CaveU's ideas but for their insightful treatments of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 219-220
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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