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BOOK NOTES his interest in "the external and material aspect ofwritten production, rather than on the matter ofthe text and its content" (xvi). Thus, together with the question of the audience, he proposes that we considerelements pertaining to the graphic style, the quality of writing, to the "modes of arrangement and layout of the text," the "techniques employed in the execution," "the number of people involved in the making ofthe testimonial," and the exterior aspect ofthe writing. The sixteen chapters that divide the book precede a well-informed "Notes" section and "Index," while mapping the history ofvarious forms ofwriting on funerary monuments. The excursus begins by separating the Egyptian tradition from the early Greek tradition. Next, the treatment ofthe tomb ofthe Scipios focuses the discussion on Roman culture. Following a history ofChristian customs, a section on the Middle Ages describes the influence ofthe merchants and their typical way ofkeeping accounts ofthings. The tomb ofJohn XXIII, the anti-pope, in the Baptistery ofFlorence, is regarded by Petrucci as a standard for the Florentine manner ofwriting the dead. Differences between Italy and the Franco-Germanic area are noted as the writing began evolving into a "literary product" (85) in sixteenth-century Europe. The innovations ofthe Baroque precede the section on Anglo-American traditions as they were constituted by the influx ofpilgrims in the New World. Various factors such as the rise in population, the spreading ofliteracy to the lower class, and the unheard-ofslaughter on the battlefields influence the making ofthe cemeteries ofthè middle class. Indeed an American characteristic, the first cemetery in modem history fully dedicated to those killed in war, was conceived by the Union government. Similar burial grounds were set up in Europe after the FrancoPrussian war (1870-71), soon to be followed by their equivalent for other wars. The concluding chapter hints at the very challenging force ofour age in rethinking the tradition ofburial and writing. At the onset ofthe radical changes was the recording ofmemory in absentia through posters and santinos, or holy pictures. This alteration ofthe funerary tradition is further emphasized by the gap dividing the practices of the working and middle classes, which are over-emphatic and overinvasive , from those ofthe upper-class, whose tombs become increasingly sober. The very subtitle of Writing the Dead recognizes the limits of its frame of reference. At the same time, the book does not wish to be regarded as a work unaware ofthe complexity ofthe issue it treats. Though specific to a tradition within a geo-historical and cultural reality defined as the "West," this informative and erudite book is full ofinsights which can lead the reader to pursue other untraveled roads in the vast cultural history ofhumankind. Armando Petrucci wishes his book to be more than a study ofdeath and ofthe dead; he likes to champion his work as one ofthe possible histories "oflife, shaped by pride and exclusion, domination and ideology, fear and cruelty, affections and memories" (xvii). Maurizio GodorecciThe University ofAlabama-Tuscaloosa GREGORY L. LUCENTE. Crosspaths in Literary Theory and Criticism: Italy and the UnitedStates. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1997. xii + 193 pp. Crosspaths in Literary Theory and Criticism comprises twelve essays that Gregory Lucente assembled in book form before his untimely death in a car accident last June. His purpose in bringing these articles together is to show how positions argued within Italian criticism may serve as "correctives" to certain varieties ofconVoI . 23 (1999): 190 ??? COHPAnATIST temporary American criticism: "The constant concern [ofthis book] is to develop a historically attentive evaluation ofliterature and culture that sees literary/cultural phenomena not as mere reflections of socioeconomic forces but as formative components of social life in the contemporary intellectual environments of both Italy and the United States" (p.viii). The phrase "formative components ofsocial life" carries the dual burden ofsimilar expressions found in Gramsci's work that speak at once to the social character ofliterature and to the social nature ofinterpretation : to what Lucente would call "critical praxis," in which thought and action are inextricably linked, and which stands as a "corrective" to different varieties of criticism that fail to ground their theorizing in texts and whose reflections are devoid ofmeaningful social commitment. What is the purpose...


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