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Book Reviews251 Buttarelli's tavern: "the neurotic who acts out his infantile dramas is no less a performer than Juan and Luis" (150). The conclusion makes a plea for repugnant bodily acts as part of the critical act: "the house of fiction could use an outhouse of criticism" (162). Pérez Firmat's study gloats in its own liminality, in its sense of difference from mainstream — and not-so-mainstream — criticism. The reader must scrape away the magma, as it were, of discursive preciosity to reach the conceptual core. The process is, appropriately perhaps, somewhat draining. Two additional examples: "Writing is blending and mending. Writing is mixing and fixing. Writing is smashing and patching: an ounce of this, a pinch of that; a stitch here, a loop there. The carnival principle ofmotley, rather than the geometrical principle of concavity, generated the esperpento's tangled, intricate design" (48-49). "Literature and Liminality is an exercise in adolescent criticism. I have attended to the pubescent moment, to the pimple phase, in my corpus ofworks; and though I know that pimples — like roses — fade, and that masturbation finally loses out to copulation, my effort has been to treat this festive, festering phase as if it held a permanent condition, as if acne were forever" (56). Oh, one might say along with the critic (127), my yiddische magma. Pérez Firmat's endeavor to unite form and content will delight some readers and exasperate others. Those willing to enter the quagmire will find brilliant rereadings of Don Juan Tenorio, Juan Criollo, and Tiempo de silencio, and may reap unexpected benefits from this rare library. The benefits would be greater, however, ifthe critic had devoted more theoretical space to liminality itself, for a theory that would unify the diverse elements becomes marginal to, or enmeshed in, practice. If saturnalian self-consciousness has a place in the critical corpus — and why not? — then Literature and Liminality is a paradigm of the other side, the underside, of discourse on Hispanic texts. EDWARD H. FRIEDMAN Arizona State University ELIZABETH A. FLYNN and PATROCINIO P. SCHWEIKART, eds. Gender and Reading: Essays on Readers, Texts, and Contexts. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. 306 p. Anyone remembering the comment often expressed five to ten years ago to the effect that feminist criticism lacked substance should make a note to read this new collection of essays as soon as possible. Substantial is the adjective that most comes to this reader's mind as being an appropriate description of this worthwhile book, although such others as well chosen, well written, insightful, and readable are applicable as well. Following the lines of inquiry opened in the last decade by Wolfgang Iser, Stanley Fish, Jonathan Culler, David Bleich, and Norman Holland, and then explored further in Reader Response Criticism (edited by Jane Tompkins, 1981), it presents a nicely varied but unified (two more highly suitable adjectives) exploration of the question of gender and its relation to the act of reading. The first section, entitled "Research and Theory," presents essays by Mary Crawford and Roger Chaffin, Patrocinio P. Schweikart, and Jean Kennard. Crawford and Chaffin, in "The Reader's Construction of Meaning: Cognitive Research on Gender and Comprehension," summarize research in linguistics, communication theory, and cognitive psychology that presents women as a "muted group" for whose ideas the dominant male-oriented structure does not 252Rocky Mountain Review provide an accepted schema of understanding. Women may "thus feel the need to adapt the idiom ofthe dominant group, reading and writing like men" (24). A uniquely female viewpoint, striven for within the women's movement, serves to provide a much needed alternative schema permitting new understanding ofold objects and relationships. In "Reading Ourselves," Schweikart discusses "gynocritics" and examines men's and women's reading of and writing about concrete texts, concluding that a vicious circle is implied in the fact that "an androcentric canon generates androcentric interpretive strategies, which in turn favor the canonization of androcentric texts and the marginalization of gynocentric ones" (45). Kennard's essay "Ourself behind Ourself' introduces the idea of"polar reading," in which the lesbian reader reads like a man, but with a "new awareness" (70), allowing the coexistence of polarities in...


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