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

148Philosophy and Literature not an adequate theory of literary perception. They suggest, for example, that Derrida is prevented "from explaining a situation which he acknowledges obtains : people do make categorization decisions, even though the units they categorize are impure or fuzzy" (p. 170). They also test their theory by having it account in a principled way for highly variable interpretations of particular works. It passes this test. But it is not vacuous; various falsifying possibilities are canvassed. This is a valuable book in what it attempts to do. It is not without faults: the prose is labored at times when it needn't be. But the general theory is well worth further articulation. University of Canterbury, New ZealandKoenraad Kuiper Hermann Broch, by Ernestine Schlant; 193 pp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987, $9.95 paper. Thefin-de-siècle satirist Karl Kraus, whosefeuilleton wit lashed out at numerous Viennese targets, served as one of Hermann Broch's life-long heroes. With Ernestine Schlant's portrait of Broch in mind, it is difficult to imagine that Broch was attracted to Kraus's humor. Rather, he must have found allure in Kraus's indefatigable cultural criticism, for the Broch of Schlant's biography is deeply serious, serious to the point of tragedy. Schlant depicts an autodidact, the owner of a weaving mill who sells the mill to turn to matters of intellect, only to find a life of frustration. Although he gained recognition as a major novelist, Broch remained unrecognized in the role that meant most to him, that of philosopher. He wrote novels in order to continue his philosophical work. And his novels, as Schlant describes them, involved philosophizing by other means. Schlant's Broch was pre-eminendy a philosopher, but how seriously should we take his philosophy? The catalog of his political and philosophical writings seems the product of a self-appointed prophet: a discourse to the League of Nations, a "Bill of Duties" to be appended to the American Bill of Rights, and an unfinished magnum opus oudining a theory of mass psychology. Unfortunately , Schlant does not provide enough of a sustained reading of Broch's philosophical work to suggest more than isolated themes, and after discussing several texts those themes become so numerous as to suggest a kaleidoscopic vision rather than an ordering mind. Analyzing the novels, Schlant identifies a larger number of themes still. Few of those themes move from novel to novel. Each seems to live a fragmentary existence. Reviews149 One of the few motifs that does recur dirough Schlant's analysis is that of dissolution, which she links to the strong sense ofdecline experienced in Vienna and to the "rise-and-fall" theories of Nietzsche and Spengler. Although Schlant claims that "Broch's intellectual struggles . . . can be viewed as an attempt to rid himself of these powerful conditionings" (p. 24), Broch appears litde interested in forsaking those cultural traditions. Even Schlant tells us that "The Sleepwalkers showed the disintegration of values in three successive stages" (p. 78). And she identifies as the centerpiece of his unfinished mass psychology a cyclical theory of history that saw this century in decline. The one major work of Broch's which Schlant discusses only briefly, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Ms Time, possibly provides the key for Broch's concerns. That study, which Broch described as concerned more with an era than with Hofmannsthal, portrays an age of decline in which one can talk of "art and its non-style." The book offers an acerbic picture of the age of Broch's youth. And appropriately, the book concludes not with Hofmannsthal but with Karl Kraus, for it is finally in the tradition of Kraus that Broch is writing: both his fiction and his philosophy partake of the Viennese cultural Cassandra. There remains, however, the theme of literature, which Schlant leaves relatively untouched. In discussing TL· Death of Virgil, she describes Broch's Virgil in the hallucinatory last twenty-four hours of his life, a man who "sees the failure of his art" and wants his Aeneid put to flames. Schlant does not go much further than to suggest Broch's skepticism about art, when one should recognize The Death of...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 148-149
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.