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130Philosophy and Literature with the power structures and relations of society. His final judgment of the theories he examines is that, despite their many valuable contributions, particularly to modes of analysis, they are all in the end species of bourgeois ideology implicated in the maintenance and reproduction of monopoly capitalist bourgeois society. They all pay their way in the world by inculcating the view that there is such a thing as "literature," with its own appropriate methods of study, thus insulating and isolating "literature" (the conventional canon of works from Beowulf to Virginia Woolf) from the other academic disciplines and from society, rendering "literature" decorative and useless. But that there is such a thing as literature is an illusion, according to Eagleton. He quotes Barthes with approval: "Literature is what gets taught," and that is not a matter of ontology, but of ideology; any kind of writing can be literature if the power structure wants or needs it to be, hence "literature" does not demarcate a special class of texts. That is why Eagleton does not counterpose a special Marxist theory of literature to the theories he examines. Instead he calls for a restoration of rhetoric to displace literary studies socalled . He conceives of rhetoric after the Greek manner as the study of the entire field of discursive practices in society as a whole, with particular interest in such practices as forms ofperformance and the exercise ofpower for the purpose of moving society one way or another. So, like all other Marxists who, under the name of "socialism," would impose a modern-day feudalism on us, Eagleton is a reactionary. Part of his charm is that he cheerfully admits it. Simon Fraser UniversityD. D. Todd The Subject in Question: The Languages of Theory and the Strategies ofFiction, by David Carroll; vii & 231 pp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982, $12.95. David Carroll performs in the theatre of Derrida but plays a role different from that of deconstructing angel. The angels, he argues, are formalists, blind to the operations by which they make visible the text's form and to their dependence on the binary oppositions that ground the theories oflanguage as representation and expression. Indeed, the refrain that runs through The Subject in (Question is that simply to privilege the traditionally unprivileged member of a regnant opposition is not to leave the formerly privileged member behind, but to invest it with pernicious power by repressing it. Carroll claims that twentieth-century French theories of literature and related modes of discourse have thought to leave behind what they have merely driven underground. Nor could they have done otherwise, he avers, until Derrida's radical working through of the reigning oppositions had occurred. It has, and Carroll (psycho)analyzes the theories in a craftsmanlike way, discovering contradiction and plurality in the apparently simple, repressed common elements amongst seemingly distinct theories, derivativeness in the allegedly original. No ideas are clear or distinct or original: Descartes is stood on his head. Derrida works on the stage set by the question "Whatjustifies this conception ofthe subject ?" where the subject is whatever takes the place of ? in "What is x?" and answers, Reviews131 "Nothing. But language and only language enables the conceptions we have." This invites the question of what justifies the notion of language in play in the answer, and Carroll's thesis is that structuralism and textualism have succumbed to the dogma that language is essentially the complex structure whose hidden workings their analyses reveal. He argues that there is no warrant for closing the question of what language is, and this for two reasons he does not distinguish. One is that questions can be closed no more than time can be stopped. Answers are given in time and are, therefore, subject to the changes time rings. The other is that language, or whatever subject is in question, is subject to the frame imposed upon it, and the logic of the frame is such that what is framed is always open to what is outside. (Since what the frame encloses is defined by its differences from what it excludes, the distinction between inside/outside the frame reappears within it.) Derrida's answer will not...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 130-131
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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