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

158Philosophy and Literature losophy and to enfranchise as philosophy certain works marginalized by the dominance of the geometric model. The chapters dealing with the case studies are very good. Warner is wellread in the relevant literature and consistendy illuminating about the texts he analyzes. His sensitivity to the nuances of the dialogues of Plato and Hume is particularly impressive, challenging traditional divisions between literature and philosophy. And so, too, is his reading ofthe Book ofJob, prima facie an unlikely model of a rational investigation into the nature of wisdom. What is less convincing, however, is the theoretical overview of finesse presented in the first and last chapters. Here the model is characterized by its alleged contrast to both deductive and inductive reasoning, and by its claimed resemblance to some of the practices of various modern authors (including Wisdom, Mitchell, Leavis, Casteftada, Rorty, and many others). But it is unclear that the arguments of many of these supposed friends of finesse cannot be captured in traditional terms, particularly if we invoke probabilistic inference. Nor does the chapter on Pascal, the epitome of finesse, really demonstrate the irreducibility of his nondeductive inferences to more traditional forms of reasoning . Finally, relying so heavily on the case studies to flesh out the finesse model leaves large issues barely touched. (The salient epistemological features offinesse, for instance, receive only a footnote on p. 366.) In this sense, Warner's case for finesse remains overly programmatic and more detailed argumentation is needed for some of his larger methodological claims. Fortunately, however, the considerable value of his detailed case studies is mosdy unaffected by this, even if they do not by themselves establish all he hopes. A book about philosophical rhetoric invites stylistic comment. Generally, Warner writes rather well. That the argument is often somewhat oblique is, of course, in keeping with his main thesis. However, one quaint English mannerism grated. This was the habit of always introducing contemporary or near-contemporary authors in full academic regalia as Professor X or Dr. Y or Sir W.Z., a pomposity surely lacking in finesse. Massey University, New ZealandRoy W. Perrett Inventions ofReading: Rhetoric and the Literary Imagination , by Clayton Koelb; xiv & 265 pp. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988, $29.95. "Du bist ein Ungeziefer!"—and in Gregor Samsa's case it is literally true. He is averminous insect, and according to Professor Koelb, the everyday expression "Du bist ein Ungeziefer!" is the occasion of an "invention of reading," a bit of Reviews159 language that Kafka takes in two different ways and uses to create a fiction in which Samsa can be addressed both literally and figuratively as a bug. Deconstruction uncovers moments of undecidability in a text, but Koelb insists that writers have long exploited such moments for the construction of texts. Such writers exhibit a "verbal imagination" and find the opening for their inventions in the "rhetoricity" of language, which Koelb defines as "discourse's openness to radically divergent interpretations" (p. 10). In a series of close readings of texts from an impressive range oflinguistic and cultural traditions, Koelb shows the verbal imagination at work, discovering texts or phrases "whose capacity for widely divergent interpretations opens up the space for narrative development " (p. 7). Not surprisingly, Koelb finds exemplars of the verbal imagination in such moderns as Kafka, Sarraute, and Calvino, but he also finds them in Boccaccio, Rabelais, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Büchner, Hoffmann, Hawthorne , H. C. Andersen, Nietzsche, and Flannery O'Connor. Most often Koelb's analyses focus on the interplay of literal and figurative meanings, but they extend as well to speech-acts that refuse to reveal themselves clearly as either constative or performative utterances (chap. 2). In fact, all Koelb's readings treat rhetorical moments of undecidable speech as modes of action, and hence as serious destabilizing forces that can create or eliminate problems (chaps. 4 and 5) as well as produce or solve moral difficulties (chap. 6). Perhaps the third chapter, "Facts and Figures," most clearly demonstrates die very real stakes of rhetorical invention. Here Koelb shows how in Kleist's Penthesüea the heroine converts the figure of a "consuming passion" into fact by literally devouring Achilles, and how in Büchner...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 158-160
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.