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HUMANITIES 4"9 1 offers a useful survey of literary censorship and of Forster's attitudes to it. The accounts of the short stories are shrewd and sensitive, that of 'Arthur Snatchfold' particularly so (Page has a good eye for Forster's unobtrusive symbolism); and it is good to see the apparent lack of surface 'brilliance' in Maurice being viewed by this sympathetic and sensible critic as proceeding from 'design rather than misfortune.' I am puzzled, however, by Page's choosing to discuss The Life to Come (whose eight homosexual stories date from 1922 onwards) before Maurice, written in 1914: as he does not deal with the latter's post-19"4 revisions, there seems no adequate reason for an order of presentation which follows neither that of composition nor of publication. A couple of factual errors need to be pointed out. 'The Story of the Siren' (published in 1920) is referred to as a 'post-war story'; Oliver Stallybrass, however, in his introduction to The Life to Come, clearly implies that it was written in or before "904. Arctic Summer is assigned to 1914, but both P.N. Furbank and Elizabeth Ellem (in her study of its manuscripts) date its composition as "911-12 (1914 was a lapse of memory on Forster's part). It is hardly reasonable, therefore, for Page to reproach others, as he does on page 61, for 'confusion concerning the dating' of Forster's work. He does this:apropos a 'recent book' which gets the story of 'Other Kingdom' wrong and perpetuates the mistake that Forster's fantasies (short stories) preceded his plots (novels). 'This: one agrees with Page, 'will never do.' Nor will it do to omit, as Page does, any footnote identifying the book and its author. (PHILIP GARDNER) Raymond Montpetit. Comment parler de la litterature Cahiers du Quebec. Hurtubise. 195 Raymond Montpetit's Comment parler de 10 litterature attacks one of the enduring problems facing the literary critic, the teacher, and indeed the serious reader. Although the author's personal point of departure would seem to be in what he calls the lack of rigorous and systematic criticism in Quebec (p 5). his textual beginning is in Foucault: 'Interpreter et formaliser sont devenues les deux grandes formes d'analyse de notre age: it vrai dire, nous n'en avons pas d'autres' (Les Mots et les chases, p 312). Montpetit's intention is to follow these two vectors of modern literary criticism as found in the works of some of their most important practitioners : on the one hand, through Schleiermacher and Dilthey to Ricoeur's hermeneutics and the symbolic; on the other, through the Russian formalists, the Prague school, Jakobson, Barthes, etc, to contemporary formalism and 'literarity' in general. The third part of Montpetit's text is made up of two analyses. The first is of Durrell's Alexandria Quartet based upon what he calls 'Ie texte dans 420 LETTERS IN CANADA 1977 sa machination,' that is to say, the text as 'lieu de production' (p 11). This is followed by a study of Shakespeare's Othello, once again within the critical perspective of textual functioning: '... nous procederons pour finir aune lecture d'un texte dramatique ... pour, 111 aussi, chercher les mecanismes qui assurent Ie fonctionnement du ... texte-machine' (p 12). To give an overview of the various theories and practices which constitute the trends of. recent literary theory and criticism, hermeneutics and formalism, and to do so with intellectual rigour and system, is a very ambitious, not to say impossible, task. In the process of reduction and resume necessary to such a project, the enormously complicated and abstract concepts dealt with by Montpetit become at times obscure, and the elaboration of theoretical positions difficult to follow, because the transitional elements and explanatory definitions have to be truncated, the nuances set aside. This is a particularly vexing problem because of the variety of conceptual codes to be surveyed and the distinctly idiolectical quality of most of them. Some of these, Russian formalism, for example, have been with us long enough to have been largely assimilated , but others remain either too specific to be generalized, as in the case of Barthes, or too...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 419-421
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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