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B ook R eview s reader of literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis finds a “ textual memory . . . a series of intertextual constructions” (12). The most striking characteristic of this work is its breadth of scope. Lukacher skillfully intermeshes a multitude of texts exemplifying major currents in Western thought. In laying the foundation for his theory that the ground of memory “ inheres in the act of reading and interpretation” (12), the author discusses, for example, not only Freud and Heidegger, but also the former and the latter in relation to Lacan and Derrida and all of these in relation to Nietzsche. Other prominent intertextual analyses include Lukacher’s readings of the “ memory” of Shakespeare in Hegel, of Balzac in Marx, and of Dickens in Freud. More­ over, most of Lukacher’s commentary is forged of his own memories of a huge body of critical texts. The author’s voice is difficult to locate behind or beside those of Barthes, Benjamin, De Man, Derrida and others whose terms and concepts Lukacher almost always cites in advancing the important elements of his theory. As one of the author’s main themes is prosopopoeia—the masking or fading of the voice—his apparent reticence to assume the role of self-sufficient speaker seems appropriate. While the reader can at times experience a kind of vertigo in this intertextual maze, one cannot help but recognize that it is ingeniously constructed. Lukacher is a sensitive reader—this in my view is particularly evident in his analyses of Henry James’s The Turn o f the Screw and Hamlet,—but he excels above all as a powerful organizing force, a commanding master of ceremonies. In the opening chapters Lukacher argues that having recognized the role of “ temporal difference” in the fundamental concealment of the origin, Freud and Heidegger should not necessarily be understood as Derrida has presented them—as the last great thinkers com­ mitted to ontology or the metaphysics of presence. Rather, Lukacher suggests Freud and Heidegger in many ways anticipate the writings of such radical thinkers as Lacan and Derrida himself and remain our contemporaries insofar as they belong to the epoch of “ the beginning of the ending of the history of metaphysics” (64). Lukacher often returns to this provocative phrase, and in so doing it is unfortunately unclear whether he wishes to main­ tain the notion of a rupture between Freud and Heidegger and their intellectual heritage or whether he wishes conversely to stress (as he elsewhere points out) that “ since Plato the end has always already begun” (111). I suspect that this last principle is actually Lukacher’s general point as in the later chapters his focus is primarily on what precedes Freud and Heidegger: the traces of Plato, Heraclitus, and Kant in Heidegger, of Hamlet “ in the ear of Hegel,” of the modern crisis of the subject in Oedipus; the unconscious reconstruction of Balzac’s political novels in Marx’s The Cologne Communist Trial, and finally the “ primal scene of psychoanalysis itself” (276) in Dickens’s texts. Lukacher presents Primal Scenes as an effort to balance the “ irrepressible demands of both a formalist and historical criticism” (336). The effort is highly successful and by virtue of its profoundly interdisciplinary approach the study should appeal to scholars in many fields. M a r y L e w is S h a w Columbia University David Porush. T h e S o f t M a c h in e : C y b e r n e t ic F ic t io n . New York: Methuen, Inc., 1985. Pp. 244. Quite clearly, Porush has succeeded in isolating a specific literary sub-genre, tracing its sources in technology, and formulating a deductive grammar of its behavior. In his efforts to formulate an inductive theory of existing texts, however, Porush’s model neces­ Vol. XXVI, No. 4 103 L ’E s pr it C réa te u r sarily sacrifices detail to synthesis. Porush’s propositional contribution can be paraphrased as follows: a) “ Cybernetic fiction” is a discernible and potent force in modernist literature, b) The defining characteristic of the genre is that its texts must exhibit both the formal and thematic properties of a “ soft...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 103-104
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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