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274 JILL R. WEBSTER other equations which Kafka criticism has produced in answer to the question as to what Kafka's fiction is really about. But the beginning and the end of Corngold's article are fine in that they illumina te precisely that hermeneutic crowding of Kafka's spare prose which threatens to overwhelm both protagonist and reader alike. At one point Corngold comments that The Judgment 'discourages the reader from taking direct access to the life which comes to light w ith ostensible selfevidence in his first reading' (p 43). One knows what he means. This is a fruitful insight - and it is one that is asserting itself increasingly in more recent Kafka criticism. Corngold's suggestion serves as a valid corrective to those critics who seek to evaluate (morally, psychologically, ontoiogically, mythologically, sociologically, philosophically) the characters whom Kafka puts before us. For Corngold suggests that such evaluations are part of the phenomenon that Kafka's fiction explores: they are not, in other words, analytical approaches to the text; rather they are paraphrases of its characteristically knowing narrative modality. Which is not to say that Tile Judgment is about a writer, or writing, or literature. Nor that it is simply about itself (whatever that might mean). And this brings us to the essential point: Corngold is right to direct our attention towards the 'hermeneutic of Tile Judgment' (to quote his title). But that hermeneutic crowding (and scrambling) only affects us (and the other commentators in this volume) in the urgent way it does because we are persuaded that the interpretative hideand -seek is a legitimate function of a common human situation (a family quarrel) that can and does speak to all of us. It is in the legitimate interlocking of narrative manipulation with a recognizable human configuration that Kafka makes us see precisely the extent to which hermeneutic manipulation is a motor force in human behaviour. The implications, of course, are devastating: but they suggest the precise way in which Kafka's fiction, like all great art, is able to unsettle and to challenge the sensibility of the reader. An Idea of History JILL R. WEBSTER Selected Essays of America Castro. Edited and translated by Stephen Gilman and Edmund L. King Columbus: Ohio State University Press 1977. x, 343. $12.50 The editors of this volume set out to make known to the English reader some of Americo Castro's essays on a variety of subjects, which they present under the title An Iden of History. Four main areas have been chosen as representative of Castro's interests: Cervantes and Don Quixote, Spain in its history, comparative literature, and historical theory, the last section bearing the same title as the AMERICO CASTRO 275 volume itself. I propose to comment separately on each of these sections and on the collection as a whole. Roy Harvey Pearce in his Introduction places Castro's arrival in the United States as more or less contemporaneous with the appearance of the New Criticism , which placed little emphasis on the historical situation of a literary work, concentrating instead on its analysis as a virtually independent entity. It is here that America Castro's thought could be said to be both in accord with the new emphasis on the integral value of a literary work, and at variance with the idea that its historical setting was of only minimal importance. In Part I Castro, in presenting his ideas on Cervantes' great work, Don Quixote, affirms the real and literary existence of novelistic characters: 'A character has a real life of his own, marked with his personal characteristics, thanks to which he is always somebody' (p 19). This idea of reality is fundamental for the understanding of Sancho Panza and Don Quixote who move in a world of illusions which is constantly transformed into reality (p 26). Although the two characters move in opposite directions their existences are parallel and they both 'possess the supreme gift of being able to accept and reject what life offers them' (p 41). The fact that Cervantes gives these characters individuality and a life of their own is made possible, in Castro's view, by complex historical phenomena which were...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 274-277
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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