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Book Reviews or suppress the question as to whether some books are better than others, but it is impossible to evade saying that some books are more important that others. They are not necessarily better but they are more important—whether because they are more representative or more influential, or whatever. The most ardent hater of Henry James, for example, cannot deny his importance (much though I wish I could). Keating ends his book with a fascinating hst, year by year, of the more significant novels pubhshed. But what decides the more significant? His hst is certainly not drawn up in terms of best-seUers (about which he has a very useful discussion), but what does make it representative? Influence—to be shown in later hterary history? Perhaps. This book should initiate debate—especiaUy among readers of ELT—a debate that I'd hope Keating would join. And I'd ask him to start here: does his kind of hterary history necessarily involve a neglect of form and detaUed attention to language? Charles Swann Keele University The Literature of Estrangement Martin Bock. Crossing the Shadow-Line: The Literature of Estrangement. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1989. 170 pp. $25.00 MARTIN BOCK'S Crossing the Shadow-Line: The Literature of Estrangement explores romantic and modern authors—from Coleridge to Malcolm Lowry—"who are fascinated with characters, narrators, or speakers who become estranged from their cultures." For Bock, writers such as De Quincey, Poe, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Joyce, Barnes, and Conrad, whüe recognizing "the authority structures and myths of the dominant Christian culture," are aU of them "heretical" to the extent that they "perceive and act in a manner that significantly departs from what is culturally acceptable." In this way, Bock delineates an "heretical tradition" among romantic and post-romantic English, French, and American authors who subvert their given "cultural episteme"—"that body of knowledge associated with cultural attitudes toward sensation, language, imagination, symbolism and mythical archetypes." Bock identifies four textual strategies to effect cultural estrangement through which these authors set themselves "apart from more mainstream writers" (who foUow not from Coleridge but from Words237 ELT: VOLUME 34:2, 1991 worth): through the "disorientation of the senses" (drug-related experiences ), "linguistic disorientation" (neologisms, puns, digressions), "imagistic or symbolic disorientation" (iconoclasm), and "mythic or archetypal disorientation" (parody, farce, irony). For Bock, rather than participating in the "Christian tradition of an archetypal circular journey," these "heretical " writers create protagonists who shed cultural assumptions, accept new modes of perception, and refuse reintegration into the culture. In the case of Coleridge, De Quincey, Poe, Baudelaire, and Rimbaud—the subjects of the first half of the book—this pattern is perhaps easiest to see. This is because aU of these writers at some point come "under the influence of artificial stimulants, either opium or alcohol, which induce sensate experiences that are radicaUy different from those offered by everyday cultural reahty." Bock's treatment of Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is central to his argument and is particularly iUuminating. Speaking of this poem as "a seminal paradigm" which defines "the relationship between sense perception and the modern heretical vision," Bock characterizes this pattern as involving a journeyer who crosses a threshold and enters an animistic realm characterized by a hyperesthetic , synesthetic, or anesthetic derangement of the senses, which is reflected in the unorthodox images, language, or structure of the work. This disorientation of the senses induces an altered awareness of self and subverts the cultural episteme, that a priori sense of what is culturally known or knowable. This altered knowledge renders the journeyer a permanent exile from his or her own culture, without hope of regeneration or return. By contrast, Bock notes Coleridge's awareness that Wordsworth, the poet's coUaborator in Lyrical Ballads, instead of emphasizing "the modifying colours of imagination," writes a verse that exhibits "a faithful adherence to the truth of nature." For Bock, Coleridge's distinction captures the essential difference between Bock's own canon associated "with a heretical symbolist episteme that subverts the mythos and archetypes of the dominant culture," and the more conventional one "associated with the dominant Christian-romantic episteme." However, it is the second half of...


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pp. 237-240
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