In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

364Philosophy and Literature Literature can imagine the possibility of abolishing even such a process of selection. Such literature shows, implicidy, a recognition of the fundamental deceptions about the self and desire upon which the classical novel was based. Such a recognition is "the necessary point of departure" (p. 313) for a view of the self more truthful than that offered by realistic fiction. The value of literature, and criticism, is to teach us about desire and its relation to a fragmented or unified self. "Literature ... is not merely instructive about desire" (p. 10); literature itself, as one form of fantasy, is a manifestation of desire. Paradoxically, the realistic novel offers a less fully human view of desire than the literature of the "deconstructed" self. Bersani, using a psychoanalytic framework, shows why psychoanalysis would be mistaken to think of this literature of the "deconstructed" self as merely regressive. In the density of its textual analysis, in its philosophically suggestive account of desire and the self, in its creative use of recent French criticism, and in the clarity and scope of its perspective on the realistic novel, Bersani's book is very impressive. A Future for Astyanax deserves to be read widely and studied with care. Carnegie-Mellon UniversityDavid Carrier Phenomenology, Structuralism, Semiology, edited by Harry R. Garvin; pp. 230. Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Bucknell University Press for the Bucknell Review, 1976, $7.50. This collection is the first in a series of thematic "book-journals" being published by the Bucknell Review to replace its previous format of eclectic triannual issues. As explained by the editor, Harry R. Garvin, the purpose of this change is to reach a greater number of readers "seriously interested in both the sciences and the humanities" (p. 7). Appropriately, about half of the material in the present volume concentrates on literature, and half on the social sciences. Specifically philosophical considerations are confined to the section on phenomenology and play only a subordinate role. For certain readers, at least, the presence of the word "semiology" in the title of this work may prove somewhat misleading. Besides the admirably comprehensive introduction by Patrick Brady, just one of the remaining thirteen essays, Susan Wittig's informative "Semiology and Literary Theory," deals with semiology as distinct (or distinguishable) from "orthodox" structuralism. Julia Kristeva's now prominent work in semiotics is mentioned only in passing, while the brilliant and baffling Jacques Derrida receives but a single reference. Even Roland Barthes, whose influential writings cover the transition from structuralism to post-structuralism, is given scant attention. Instead the key figure for nearly half the volume is Claude Lévi-Strauss. Thus, by the standards of fashionable Parisian thought (and many Romance language departments Shorter Reviews365 as well) the focus of this collection is already out of date. Nevertheless, what is important here is not the dissemination of novel theories but the evaluation of methodologies. Can phenomenology, structuralism or semiology be used to improve either literary criticism or social science? Admittedly , the question is difficult to answer, since our standards of evaluation depend in part on methodological commitments. And yet it must be answered in some form, if these theoretically based methodologies are tobe taken seriously. By example and argument the essays in Phenomenology, Structuralism, Semiology contribute to this debate on several levels. Thomas Pison finds in Keat's ode "To Autumn" an ontological disclosure of Heideggerean time and Bachelardian space. Douglas J. Stewart makes a delightfully convincing case for the inseperability of mythic pattern and biographical fact in Greco-Roman history. James R. Bennett presents an overview of the structuralist poetics of Tzvetan Todorov, praising Todorov's systematic rigor, but criticizing his unwillingness to link the examination of "abstract literary structure" with contextual factors and evaluative judgments. An especially broad and provocative challenge to current methodologies is issued by René Girard, himself a notable literary theorist. With characteristic wit and authority, Girard turns the tables on Continental formalism, arguing that the best keys to décodage can be found in great works of fiction: Everything the current methodologies can do, Dostoïevski can do better. . . . We have been plundered by disciplines that still terrify us because they claim a scientific status which is not really...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 364-365
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.