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HUMANITIES 555 social discursive order (p 295). Gulliver's behaviour among the Cartesian Houyhnhnms is seen as revealing the flaws as well as the essence of the discourse of experimentalism, but Swift's critique is said to partake of the same occultations and limitations characteristic of the imposition of analysis and referential truth, and of their correlative, 'objectivity.' Yet through language and thought, in epistemology, metaphysics, and logic, Reiss traces the gradually growing crisis in this discourse, a discourse whose limits become increasingly evident in the work of Dickens, Lautreamont, Peirce, Marx, and especially (and most interestingly) Freud, where previously occulted discursive practices begin to surface and subvert notions of linguistic transparency, of objectivity, and indeed of the very concept of the 'subject.' Reiss's brief polemical critique of the contemporary recuperation of Freud into a post-Saussurian context is a convincing and necessary reinsertion of psychoanalysis into discursive history. One awaits with interest the further exploration of this topic promised in tantalizing footnotes (pp 362n, 360n). In The Discourse of Modernism, Reiss argues, exhaustively and with conviction, that certain notions - such as experimentation and truth in science, referentiality and representation in language and literature, individualism in political and economic theory, and common sense in philosophy - are all actually hypostatizations of a particular discursive system, one that is, in fact, in a state of crisis today. Only by exploring its emergence and development, Reiss suggests, can we both understand its waning and learn to face the possible consequences of ignoring discursive history for our way of ascribing meaningfulness to human relations . This admonitory note, on which the book ends, underlines the much wider import and intent of Reiss's fine study. A carefully reasoned and well argued work, The Discourse of Modernism is densely written, yet admirably clear. Reiss handles a vast amount of material (philosophical, scientific, and literary) adroitly, and indeed, at times, most elegantly. This book not only provides the broader context for Reiss's own work, but makes a significant and valuable contribution to contemporary epistemic theory. (LINDA HUTCHEON) Mario J. Valdes. Shadows in the Cave: A Phenomenological Approach to Literary Criticism Based on Hispanic Texts University of Toronto Press. 212. $25.00 G6ngora's sonnet 'Sombras suele vestir' describes the process of dreaming . The dream, personified as a theatre director, sends images of the loved one to the soul, the person-within-the-person, who thus enjoys two benefits, sleep and seeing the face of his beloved. This double 556 LETTERS IN CANADA 1982 dramatization, an allegory of an allegory, is remarkably similar to Mario Valdes's description of the reading process: We must think of this relationship between the reader and the narrative voice as a dynamic encounter ... The participation of the reader is not a mere passive reception. This impoverished view of reading has no relation to the reading of literature wherein the reader must actualize the expression into a construct of the imagination. The reader provides the entire subjective fabric which realizes the textual intentionality. (p 52) This situation was allegorized forty years ago by Borges in 'Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote: Not that Valdes is behind either the times or Borges, but, simply, that criticism will always play Achilles to literature's tortoise. Borges's story redefines the reader as creator, to the point that by the end of the tale we have no idea who the narrator is, if he is a friend of the deceased Pierre Menard, if he is Pierre Menard pretending to be that friend, if he is Borges, or we ourselves. The story, like G6ngora's poem, is a literary Moebius strip, a dramatization of a process through allegory whose subject is the process dramatized. Shadows in the Cave addresses the world of Hispanic criticism and has decidedly didactic intentions toward it. This pedagogic intention makes Valdes appear at times like a purveyor of novelties; here, for instance, in his chapter on literary genres: The first task of this chapter is to find a more rigorous definition of a literary class. Second, and of more consequence, is the consideration of the logical suppositions for literary classification which will enable us to construct a phenomenological theory and thus...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 555-558
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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