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Shorter Reviews133 Ferguson devotes the rest of her study to resisting the solipsistic implications of this split (and hence the appeal of "apocalypse") by developing the relational or communal aspects of this ascetic space. In ingenious but forced chapters on The Prelude, the Lucy poems, and epitaphs, and in a superb treatment of The Excursion, she offers an image of reading that counters the counter-spirit of figurai errancy. Divorced from stable objects and self-begetting ego, the mind finds relatedness "in a rhetoric which suspends itself over a gap in demonstrable truths" (p. 125). This rhetoric offers a profound sense of dependency in the mind's continual reading of figurai echoings which embody its belonging to an inherently social realm of imaginative passions. Wordsworth understands that in his desire to see "bridging" as "more compelling than the abyss" (p. 250) he acknowledges "that the only world and self which we can know is a residue of an unfathomably extensive chain of affections which have led us all to imagine the possibility of meaning in the face of all evidence to the contrary" (p. 154). How on earth could one find "evidence" for the impossibility of meaning? Ferguson's work has all the sloppiness of recent continental thought with its untenable definitions of reference or origin as ground for secure meaning. In fact her distrust of origins, and hence of a descriptive function for language, helps explain why she echoes de Man's vacillations on whether criticism enacts a set of textual possibilities or reveals the writer's conscious authority over his figures. Yet she transcends her masters in one crucial respect—by exploring the implications of poetic language as rhetorical' action, she recovers, on levels deeper than any other critic of Wordsworth, the ways in which figurative acts help foster and sustain a model of communal relations culturally homologous to what Wordsworth insisted were symbolic properties of natural processes. University of WashingtonCharles Altieri The New Nietzsche: Contemporary Styles ofInterpretations, edited by David B. Allison; pp. 274. New York: Delta, 1977, $3.95, paper. Nietzsche stands to our age somewhat as Plotinus stood to the Middle Ages. That is to say, he as much as anyone else has formulated our characteristic responses to experience and coined our basic cultural metaphors. In a torrent of writings he exposed our metaphysical aneurysms, analyzed our alienation, equipped us with attitudes of defiance and endurance and set forth a new moral ideal. This new collection of essays on Nietzsche, many of them appearing for the first time in English, is excellent. They are of special use to anyone interested, as I am, in the interface between philosophy and literature, between concept and image. Nietzsche, of course, was all on the side of image. Invoking the 1 34Philosophy and Literature example of the pre-Socratic philosophers, he never tired of asserting the primacy of metaphor. Concepts, he said, are themselves metaphors, although sometimes rather pale and lifeless ones. I should say that the principal value of Allison's book lies in the light it throws on Nietzsche's general theory of art and metaphor. It is evident, of course, that Nietzsche's own style is radically metaphorical. But it would be wrong, as several of the essayists here represented remind us, to suppose that this style is merely ornamental. For the style is itself philosophical; it corresponds to a certain view of reality. For Nietzsche there is a strict homology between what he says and how he says it, a textual correspondence between what is written and what is expressed. Being is itself a text to be interpreted—an endless succession ofappearances surging up ceaselessly from the chaotic depths. There is, moreover, nothing behind the appearances. To be is to appear. These appearances are often likened to masks—but, again, there is nothing behind the masks except more masks. As the French philosopher Jean Granier, in his "Nietzsche's Conception of Chaos," tells us: "Chaotic being manifests itself as significant process only as masked." Metaphor is thus a process of concealment which is at the same time a way of giving perspective to the polymorphous, conflicting rush of appearances. Being, like Dionysus, is dispersed and...


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pp. 133-134
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