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134Philosophy and Literature its most powerful effects. Finally, though what Champigny has to say about Sartre and drama is valuable, it ultimately does not renew our vision of these topics. In short, Sartre and Drama is an interesting text without quite being an outstanding one. University of PennsylvaniaGerald Prince Four Critics: Croce, Valéry, Lukács, and Ingarden, by René Wellek; ix & 92 pp. Seatde: University of Washington Press, 1982, $8.95. Compared to René Wellek's sizable volumes in the history of criticism, this recent book constitutes a slim, "portable Wellek." The text is based on lectures the author gave as Walker-Ames Professor at the University ofWashington in 1979 and is meant to provide a "conspectus oftwentieth-century continental criticism" (p. vii). Its real interest lies in the confrontation between the nearly eighty-year-old historian of literary criticism and his selected philosophers, all of whom are interpreters of an originally idealist thought. In situating their works, Wellek is situating himself, tipping the balance in favor of Valéry vs. Croce and Ingarden vs. Lukács. The style ofhis writing, quite different in each of the essays, betrays some of the tension and drama he experienced during his distinguished career. Without dwelling much on Croce's ideas and in rather abrupt sentences, Wellek reports on the Italian philosopher's aestheticism, his "monistic idealism" (p. 10) and belief in a spiritual unity of author, work, and reader. Croce's demand for intuitive identification with the creator and his work is seen as leading to critical paralysis and his literary criticism is therefore termed "limited" (p. 18). On the other hand, the French poet and critic Paul Valéry is admired for his theories of the creative process and his idealism that worships the purity ofpoetry and makes the poet "a critic of the first order" (p. 24). No attempt is made at a global judgment. Wellek's recommendation is that "we must not try to force unity on Valéry^ thought, we must not invent a logical monster . . ." (p. 36). As expected, the confrontation with Georg Lukács is much more dramatic. The Hungarian philosopher is presented, quite indiscriminately and with abundant use of negative epithets, as the doctrinaire, quintessential Marxist, whose German idealist origins Wellek would rather not recognize. Clearly annoyed with Lukács and Marxism, Wellek does not wish to follow him "in his tortuous attempts to make music and architecture mirror reality" (p. 41), nor does he wish to bother comparing "Widerspiegelung," Lukács's "obsessive central metaphor" (p. 40), to Aristotelian "mimesis" (p. 41). Instead, the concept is tied exclusively to Lenin's use of odrazhenie (reflection) (p. 40), which is possible only with a total disregard for Lukács's early work. The final interlocutor, Roman Ingarden, is treated with obvious respect and deference. Wellek acknowledges his debt to the Polish philosopher whose work he imported to the West, having learned from him "more than from anybody else" (p. 55). Ingarden's concepts such as Gestalt, the four strata that constitute a work of art, his idea of "concretiza- Reviews135 tion" and its influence on the theories of Heidegger, Gadamer, and Iser are carefully presented, with frequent bows to the man Wellek considers his master. Despite their predictable philosophical tendency, these essays are not to be shrugged off as well-known attitudes of a long established literary figure. The author's reservations toward some present critical practice prompt him to touch upon the seasoned sources of seemingly novel and fashionable views. In doing so, Wellek confronts current theoretical issues, from idealist, intuitive spiritualism (Croce) to the idea of continuity or discontinuity between author-text-reader (Valéry), Marxist socio-critical reflection theory (Lukács), and the phenomenological "concretization" and reception ofthe text (Ingarden). Ifhis attitude toward Croce is detached, toward Lukács contentious and toward Ingarden indulgent , Valéry, in my opinion, allowed Wellek to perform at his best. In providing a patchwork ofValér/s thought with the help ofquotations — fragments, archeological pieces, we could say — rather man a synthesis or a history of his ideas, Wellek preferred a quantitative treatment over a qualitative reading. Surpassing himself, he adopted a more modern — Foucaultian? — or we...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 134-135
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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