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Studies in American Fiction241 analysis of Crane's specific uses of diction and syntax, and the book should be an essential reference for anyone interested in how Crane's language works on a word-to-word, sentence-to-sentence basis. As early as 1896 Frank Norris pointed out Crane's special "habit and aptitude for making phrases," and since that decade scholars have repeatedly acknowledged the power and uniqueness of Crane's prose. Bergon, however, successfully accomplishes the difficult task of showing us why such "aptitude" is more rightly called "genius," and for this reason, Stephen Crane's Artistry should be studied and enjoyed. University of FloridaJean Wyrick Guttenberg, Barnett. Web of Being: The Novels of Robert PennWarren. Nashville: Vanderbilt Univ. Press, 1975. 173 pp. Cloth: $9.95. Barnett Guttenberg's Web of Being is the first book to examine all nine of Warren's novels, from Night Rider (1939) to Meet Me in the Green Glen (1971). It consists of an introduction (which describes what Guttenberg finds to be the central theme of the novels), nine chapters (in each of which that theme is related to one of the novels in the order of their publication), and a conclusion (which restates the book's thesis and briefly raises some of the questions central to Warren criticism). Guttenberg describes Warren's central theme as involving the incessant human struggle between false being and true being, concepts which Guttenberg relates loosely but suggestively to certain elements in the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. At the root of this struggle is a definition of the human condition which sees man as a being insistent on sense while trapped in a world of non-sense. This situation causes man constantly to perceive an "apparent disparity between fact and aspiration, world and idea" (p. xi). If accepted as real, this perception leads to false being because it forces a man to choose between the expected and the discovered, between the ideal and the real, between meaning without evidence and evidence without meaning. To make such a choice is to falsify the complexities of the world and the self by reductive simplification. But thereis an option; true being is also possible. Its achievement requires that "man, confronting alternatives of world and idea . . . choose neither. He must discover, through the awareness of limitation and the involvement of care, that these alternatives are false: that true being resolves these fragments into a new integrity" (p. xii). Guttenberg's thesis is that the patterns of Warren's novels are determined by the actions of their major (and often some, even several, minor) characters as they choose or move back and forth between false being and true. In the first twonovels, Night Riderand Af Heaven's Gate, alienation predominates and the emphasis is on false being. In the third novel, All the King's Men, the possibility of true being—a resolution of fragmentation in a vision of the oneness of things—is realized, especially in the character of Jack Burden. In the six subsequent novels that possibility is tested and expanded with a variety of characters in a variety of situations, characters for whom andsituations in whichthethreat and temptation of falsebeing is always present and beckoning. Guttenberg's application of his thesis to each of the novels is generally perceptive and convincing. His discussions of The Cave, Wilderness, and Meet Me in the Green Glen are especially illuminating, as is his general demonstration of the coherence and depth of Warren's vision. It is, however, precisely the intensity of focus that allows these successes that causes some of the book's problems. Concentration on the concepts of false and true being results in an emphasis on 242Reviews character and action (thus, Guttenberg's method is most successful with the parable-like Wilderness) to the near or total exclusion of such matters as style, narrative technique, setting, image clusters, symbol patterns, and so forth. But this may be carping. Indeed, it may be precisely the illumination which Guttenberg's method does provide that makes one wish it provided more. In the "Conclusion"of Web ofBeing, Guttenberg reiterateshis thesis and impressively relates Warren's concepts of false and true being to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 241-242
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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