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

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 similar ideas in Coleridge. He also attempts here to remedy two weaknesses of his own book. First, he makes a few inconclusive and unevidenced assertions aboutthe relative merits ofthe novels, a matterhe had previously ignored. Second, he comments on two of the major problems of Warren criticism: Warren's occasionally excessive thematic explicitness (an explicitness often occurring in exempla which sometimes seem incompletely integrated into the works of which they are part) and his rather narrow thematic range. Here, as with the belated attempts at discrimination, the remarks are too general to be useful or, rather, they are too general to do more than point to the matters they discuss as areas of continuing difficulty or controversy. Again, this may be carping. Thebook does well what it sets outto do. And if it must be added that Guttenberg seems to find Warren's vision rather more optimistic, less tragic, than the novels warrant, it must also be added that Web of Being does what good criticism ought to: it returns thereader to the works itwould illumine withnew knowledge, new questions, and renewed attention. Northeastern UniversityGuy L. RoteUa Baldwin, Kenneth H. and David R. Kirby, editors. Individual and Community, Variations on a Theme in American Fiction. Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1975. 222 pp. Cloth: $9.75. Thematic studies of American literature are often prone to enforcing a preconceived theme on a series of loosely related essays with resultant disappointment for the reader. Such is not the case with Professors Baldwin and Kirby in their fine collection of nine essays on the theme of the individual and community in seven major American authors. Represented here are essays on Charles Brockden Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Djuna Barnes, and Thomas Pynchon. All of the essays are provocative and probing in their analysis of what the editors refer to as a "community of concern, a concern which includes not just the situations of characters in fictional worlds but one which touches the relationship of both novelist and reader to a world of words" (pp. x-xi). There are essays by such distinguished critics as Carlos Baker, Roy Harvey Pearce, Louis D. Rubin, Jr. and Edward Mendelson. While the volume does not attempt to cover all of American literature, each of the contributing writers suggests some ofthe intriguing aspects of the theme ofthe individualin a community. Thevolume is a professional and personal tribute to Charles Roberts Anderson, Caroline Donovan Professor Emeritus of American Literature, The Johns Hopkins University. J. V. Ridgely in 'The Empty World of Wiehnd," explores the Gothic horrors of Brockden Brown's novel in an attempt to find the structurein the"separation ofindividuals from larger social frameworks" (p. xi). Through a closereadingof the"voices" and analysis of characters and motives, Ridgely demonstrates that the world of Brown's novel is a curiously empty one, "without a wider social reference: state, city, church—even other Studies in American Fiction243 families—remain mere shadows lurking in the general gloom. It is this world devoid of those authoritative institutions by which sense impressions could be weighed and judged" (pp. 4-5) which Ridgely focuses on. Two essays on Hawthorne, "The Limits of Romance: A Reading of The Marble Faun," by Edgar Dryden and "Day-Dream and Fact: The Import of The Blithedale Romance" by Roy Harvey Pearce, offer two widely different approaches to the self in society theme in Hawthorne's works. Dryden suggests the importance ofthe lostplenitude ofa Golden Age in many of Hawthorne's works but stresses particular attention on The Marble Faun as representing "the last and darkest of his Romances," and one in which the"theme ofloss or absence receives its fullest treatment" (p...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 242-243
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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.