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REVIEWS rative or a poem affects in the end the fate ofme critical interpretation as well. It all comes down to a new "prosopopoeia": do critics put things straight in tiieir reading, or do they rather, as in Kleist's lawless world, expose a "performative that does not perform"? For his part, it seems that Miller has very little to worry about. Unlike semiotics for instance, the deconstructive reading ofMiller has not turned, at least for the time being, into a marginalized technique ofdie speech acts. Roland Barthes was one semiotician who managed to foresee the danger ofan operational reading that was inclined to leave out die good habit of creative reading. Convincing at almost every level ofme "linguistic moment," Miller imagines his "topographical" inquiry to be doing the work performed by personification: to show that underneatii any narrative, there is a "voice" that calls the reader to restore its "otherness." To mention other examples from Topographies, the ontological and epistemological implications ofNietzsche's style in Thus Spoke Zarathustra prove how linguistic tropes point toward a foray into a textual or "fabricated" reality rather than an "objective" one. In another essay, answering critics who feel discomfort with Derrida's vast rhetorical "topography," and who resent die "invasion" of discourses alien to literature as a loss of the "realistic" ground necessary to validate fiction, Miller responds by pointing out how intentional misreadings might produce ideological monsters. Another space doomed to misreadings appears in Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!, the object ofan insightful Spitzerian analysis. The way Southern ideology disrupts the life ofthe characters is itselfa sign ofthe mistaken mapping oftheir lives within a misread space. By the time a string of unfortunate prejudices has contaminated the space within and without the characters, the solution of"overpassing to love" is the only one left. But this is an important step: it gives the characters a good chance to "figure out" a different topos, and gives the readers a story that is the personification ofa more human history. Miller implies that this would make a good figure to describe the mission of literary theory in general: to set free the dead weight ofmaterial reality within die realm of language and tell us, as Ovid would say, "ofbodies changed to different forms." Topographies performs such magic brilliantly. Florin Berindeanu University ofGeorgia PETER STARR. Logics ofFailed Revolt: French Theory after May '68. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1995. 268 pp. When die reader gets past its somewhat daunting prose, Peter Starr's excellent new book offers a lucid and original analysis that is mostly convincing and always engaging. Primarily written for those interested in French theory and ready to appreciate its rhetorical style, this is no introductory text. The arguments oíLogics are complex and nuanced, its language dense and theory-laden. But Starr's book shines as a wide-ranging synthesis ofcomparative literature and theory: he brings together a rich array oftexts from history, philosophy, psychology, and even medicine (an array not always common witii "theory"), making them speak neither simply with Voli 21 (1997): 166 THE COMPAKATIST nor simply against one other. And he does so witii originality, competence, and wit. Logics is indeed interdisciplinary work at its best, deploying an impressive body of scholarship and placing theory in its historical context. Following a succinct overview, Starr's study is divided into three parts: "Revolution as Repetition," "Politics as Tragic Impasse," and "Conjuring the Impasse." In the first part, he lays out the historical and theoretical groundwork of"the logic of failed revolt" (22) or what he earlier describes as "a series of commonplace 'explanations' for a failure ofrevolutionary action" (2). According to Starr, in such a logic or logics diere emerge "three broad genetic scenarios": the logic of"specular doubling," mat of"structural repetition," and finally "various 'logics ofrecuperation '" (2-3). The slippage between Starr's use of singular and plural forms of logic(s) betrays a familiar play ofsignifiers; Starr is no doubt trying to draw on all the meanings of"logic(s)." But he draws especially on French theory's term logos for word, discourse, reason, and so on—meanings which inform, for instance, Derrida's critique of logocentrism. Indeed such a semiotic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 166-169
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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