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270Rocky Mountain Review Simon's Triptyque. These are all texts in which there is neither chronology nor plot, in which the relationships are textual rather than psychological or causal. Discoherence is the source of the unity of these texts. In the most extravagant display of invention among contemporary French writers, Sherzer has grouped an assortment of works which demonstrate the inventiveness ofmultidimensional montages (chapter 3). She considers Butor's Mobile along with Roche's Circus and Sollers' H; these heterogeneous texts, with their mingling of genres from a variety of domains, achieve unity and cohesion within diversity. These texts are controlled, disparate, multimedia structures which call upon the reader's participation, based on his/her personal and cultural experiences. In a fourth chapter titled "Reflexivities," Sherzer considers works in which the narrator is dominant. Beckett's L'Innommable along with Pinget's Quelqu'un and Laporte's Fugue could all be subsumed under the heading of the narrator-in-spite-of-himself. The reluctant narrator is nonetheless the creator of metafiction (wondering if he can indeed tell a story), the creator of fiction as he does succeed in telling a story, of sorts, and the performer as the enunciation of the story progresses. Sherzer's fifth chapter on "Postmodern Feminist Fiction" is less about the scriptive techniques ofthe authors and more about the themes which are raised. One questions why the women authors are not considered in the same chapters dealing with stylistic issues. After all, as Sherzer points out, they write in the same way as their contemporaries. For afficionados of parallel structure, they might well have been considered along with their literary brethren ofseriality, multidimensional montages, and reflexivities. Sherzer examines Wittig's Les Guérillères, along with Duras' L'Amour and Cixous' Souffles. Her point is that women have written in the same way about very different subjects, so radically different that they merit separate consideration. All ofthe texts considered in Sherzer's study avoid linearity and chronology. They are frankly difficult texts to read. Sherzer has succeeded in grouping an apparently disparate selection oftexts into a sensible ensemble. Obviously, she has not claimed to "make sense" of the multiplicity of texts that French fiction has produced during the past 25 years; but she does indeed make a lot of sense. There is notjust one meaning ofa text, and we all readily admit that this is the case. Sherzer's work helps us understand how this is in fact the reality in the texts ofFrench writers who have shaped postmodern aesthetics. VINCENT D. PELLETIER University of Alaska, Fairbanks WILLIAM MILLS TODD III. Fiction and Society in theAge of Pushkin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986. 265 p. This work offers invaluable background and insight regarding three seminal Russian novels of the early nineteenth century: Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time, and Gogol's Dead Souls. It semiotically examines two sets ofconventions — literary and social — and, most arrestingly, their interaction. In the author's words, these novels "contributed to the process by which the Russian novel and Russian society discovered each other. The aestheticization of social life and the interpénétration of social and aesthetic conventions during the early decades ofthe nineteenth century facilitated this mutual discovery" (201). The three novels "participated," moreover, in what Book Reviews271 Todd's study reminds us were "intense cultural struggles" (205). Two long introductory chapters, entitled "A Russian Ideology" and "Institutions of Literature," ably review the period's intellectual history, characterizing particularly the standards of high society which not only severely constrained the novelists and their protagonists but also provoked their diverse responses to it. Focusing on the confining, yet superficially harmonious ideal ofmanners, with its array of attendant ritual, Todd details the highly syncretic character ofthe recently Westernized Russian aristocracy — its values, like its language and literary forms, still controversial and in transition. Todd also illuminates the literary circumstances under which the works discussed were written and came to the public's attention: modes of sponsorship (patronage, salons, literary societies); sources of publication (journals, chapbooks, almanacs, and the as yet precarious book trade); literacy and the various levels of elite readership; and the difficulties posed by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 270-272
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
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