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??? COHPAnATIST In the last essay, "Emergency, Break: Things Will Never Be the Same (Again)," Jacobs returns to her introductory remarks on pausing, rest versus continuity , and links. She recalls the opening in the final words of this essay, where the "break" deals with the "same" and the "similar" (91). The same is linked to mimicry and to history. Benjamin distinguishes historicism that sees history in terms of progress or decadence from the historical materialist which sees in the structure of the historical object a "messianic arrest [Stillstellung] ofhappening" (102). He singles out this object as an "irretrievable image ofthe past that with each present threatens to disappear" (102). At this point nothing will be the same. Similarly , at the moment of birth, Augenblick, literally "glance or flash of the eye" (103), underscores the force ofthe mimetic faculty. The perception ofsimilarities is bound to a specific moment oftime as an instantaneous flash, just before the eye moves away. At this moment, Jacobs says, "history, mimesis, and interpretation—is consumed in a flash" (99-100). Jacobs then moves from Benjamin's essay on the "Doctrine ofthe Similar," to "On Language as Such and On the Language ofMan" (104-13). In this essay a discussion ofthe Adamic double naming of "woman-andEve ," at once naming innocence and the original sin, is repeated in the pairing "woman/immaculate conception." Ultimately, another conception ofreading will be necessary. In fact, the double take on the word "conception" translates reading into writing, a reading of what was never written before. Reading as writing: reading "what never was written, to read" (113). In the Language ofWalter Benjamin proposes a series ofvery skillful readings that will be fundamental for approaching Benjamin's writings. Jacobs's essays, some of which have already been at the center of discussion, articulate, in her words, "the emergency brake of a moment, an abyss, a border" (113). To ask for a linear unfolding ofBenjamin's thought would be tantamount to missing the spirit ofJacobs's entire collection, and ofBenjamin's writings. The book's relevance is twofold: on the one hand, it furnishes an in-depth theoretical analysis ofBenjamin's texts while performing in the manner ofthose very texts. On the other, it develops sophisticated readings that encompass autobiography, biography, storytelling, and Proust (the topic ofchapter 3 and part ofchapter 6), all of which have implications for methodology and comparative studies. Maurizio GodorecciUniversity ofAlabama STEVEN G. KELLMAN. The Translingual Imagination. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2000. xi + 134 pp. 7Äe Translingual Imagination is a short book with very large ambitions. Kellman sets out to examine "literary translingualism, the phenomenon ofauthors who write in more than one language, or at least in a language other than their primary one" (ix). He states further: "[. . .] the burden ofthis book is to examine the possibilities ofwriting equally well in two languages, or at least ofwriting well in an adopted language" (x). The "at leasts" signal the book's fundamental flaw: Kellman's willingness to conflate heterogeneous linguistic practices emerging from very different situations. Either people write or have written in more than one language (in some times and places in three or even four), or they know more than one language and write in only one. The two situations are not comparable linguistically, psychologically , neurologically, sociologically, or in any otiier way. And within these two classifications, there are myriad differences oftime, means, method, situation, and Vol·. 25 (2001): 173 REVIEWS purpose of acquisition. It is important to know what the relative social valuations ofan author's languages were, and which language was primary for what purpose. (Kellman seems to define an author's "primary language" as the one in which his or her mother sang lullabies [7]). Did May Beckett sing to Samuel? Did Conrad's mother sing to him? And what about Montaigne whose "primary" language in this sense was Latin, which he grew up speaking (yes, the servants around the toddler learned enough Latin to speak to him.) Presumably, his later-learned spoken French was Béarnais, since his friend Etienne Pasquier felt compelled to present him with a copy ofthe first edition ofthe Essais wherein he had "corrected" the Gasconisms. It would have been...


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