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410 L~rreK:; IN CANAlJA 1Y7Y (p 128). Through Milton romance passes as a phenomenological problem to Keats and thence to Mallarme, Valery, and Stevens. Parker's InescapableRomance complements Frye's The Secular Scripture and unquestionably shares with it the honour of providing the most provocative reading of romance among recent studies. Unlike Frye, Parker makes use of both the French structuralists and the phenomenologists , and perhaps it is merely a cavil to remark that because of the extraordinary consistency that adheres between the book and the epilogue - a brilliant arpeggio on Stevens and the French poets - one wonders what the limits of romance and its progress ought to be. In the twentieth century 'romance continues unabated in the lyric which evades even as it envisages an end or center' (p 233). 'Romance' is so semantically charged in the epilogue that self-reflection, the nostalgic trope of its design, appears as short-circuit. This may be attributed to Parker's sense of the historical, which, despite her assertions, has little to do with that elaborated by Fredric Jameson. The dialectic of history for Parker is the dialectic of literature as phenomenological enterprise. It is history and literature under the sign of Andre Gide's Lafcadio, perpetually disponible between what was and what may yet arrive (avanture). (E.D. BLODGEIT) Patrick Grant. Images and Ideas in Literature of the English Renaissance University of Massachusetts Press. xiii, 243, illus. $15.00 Patrick Grant's new book is part of that growing if unproclaimed tradition of Renaissance studies exploring the place of Augustinian poetics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a critical trend which is largely concerned with the relation between the world, the word, and transcendent ideas, and the ability of language to convey truths by establishing correspondences between the physical and celestial realms. Paradoxically Augustine's poetics seem to have undermined, either directly or indirectly, the view that art and poetry adumbrate higher truths by stressing man's dependence on inner illumination. J.A. Mazzeo introduces these questions in Renaissance and Seventeenth-Century Studies (New York 1964); John M. Steadman, in The Lamb and the Elephant: Ideal Imitation and the Context of Renaissance Allegory (San Marino 1974), explores their significance in terms of Augustinian 'sensibilia' and 'intelligibilia ' and theories of allegory and imitation; and further along the road of critical evolution Stanley Fish, in Self-Consuming Artifacts: the Experience of Seventeenth-Century Literature (Berkeley 1972), carries the implications of an Augustinian poetic to their extreme by arguing that truth resides not in the artifact or the word, but in the process of discovery which is reading itself. Barbara Lewalski, in Prates/ant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Lyric (Princeton 1979), restores the harmony between image and meaning by concentrating on the Protestant characteristics of Renaissance Augustinianism. Grant's understanding of Augustine's poetics is similar to Lewalski's, although not confined to its Protestant features. For him Augustine is representative of a medieval sensibility which persisted in Renaissance conceptions of poetry and language. However, Grant adds a new dimension to the critical debate by examining authors' changing 'belief' in their images - the word will no doubt make critics nervous. He argues that in the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance authors 'believed' in the correspondence between their poetic images, the physical world, and a transcendent idea, and that with the growth of empiricism in the seventeenth century this belief began to fail - words could at best help us to understand the world, but not God: 'for Augustine the knowledge of things .. . served to clarify signs; for Locke the knowledge of signs serves to clarify things' (p 21). Although one might object that, in seeing Augustine as representative, and in virtually ignoring the controversies between the allegorists and exegetes, Grant has simplified medieval conceptions of language and its relation to nature and truth, yet his assessment of the influence of the Confessions and De doctrina in the Renaissance, and his recognition that Augustine was poetry's spokesman , not its antagonist, are important and accurate. In measuring the cracks that appear in the foundations of medieval thought Grant makes a somewhat idiosyncratic selection of illustrative authors, and his argument is rather too...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 410-412
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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