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558 LEITERS IN CANADA 1982 morious - but there are just as few who do not daily need to use terms like novel or epic as working hypotheses in dealing with literary texts. Any definition of any genre is provisional, merely a means for organizing critical discourse and not an end in itself. Valdes himself uses words like novel and satire, and if they are to have the same meaning for us they have for him he will have to define them. When he does, he violates his own injunctions about class. This objection is by no means a condemnation: Shadows ill the Cave is a provocative book all serious literary scholars should read. I urge Professor Valdes to turn now to texts and give his theories a life in the literary plaza. (ALFRED J. MACADAM) Cyril Welch. The Art of Art Works Sono Nis Press. 276. $14.00. Cyril Welch begins The Art ofArt Works by justifying the creation of what he calls 'yet another work on art.' Postulating that we really only understand a work when we understand it differently, Welch sets himself the task of building upon the existing literature of aesthetics (there is an informative annotated bibliography at the end of his text), and bringing new insights into both art works and the way in which we have come to see art. He intends to return the centrality of the art work to the discussion of art. Like Dewey, Welch argues that art stands at the foundation of human life and must consequently be employed by any philosopher or layman who wishes to understand the nature of human experience. He contends that in our commercial age 'art works no longer address us directly as setting the conditions for the best of living, thinking and resuming traditions .' In the introduction, the author's task is established as responding to three questions: How is it that art works both represent and transform life? How is it that art works make us think about our condition ? How is it that art works recall our heritage? The issues of life, ideation, and heritage represent the loom on which this deftly organized text is woven, and despite the magnitude of his task - to comment on the existing literature, to examine the current relationship of art and society, and to re-establish the central role of the art work - Welch largely succeeds. The reasons for his success are multiple. In the first place, the book is carefully organized and follows a linear development that is well documented and supported by numerous examples drawn from all of the arts. Secondly, Welch's writing can be eloquent, is often impassioned and, on occasion, poetic. Writing primarily for the lay reader and the student, the author strikes a happy balance between academic incisive- HUMANITIES 559 ness and a conversational, informal style. Mythic and heroic examples drawn from Homer, Faulkner, and even Charlie Chaplin are interspersed with personal observations made by the author in his garage or his kitchen. In a text which is a primer on aesthetic thought, Welch argues, as did Bergson, that art effects the difference between 'oblivion and meaningful experience'; thus he deals not only with the history of philosophic thought, but also with the problems of modern society - from urban blight to the depersonalization of the individual in the welfare and consumer society. Questioning the romantic notion that the art work reveals to us the soul of the artist, Welch sets out to prove that what is revealed, along with the intrinsic value of the work itself, is the manifestation of the human spirit- not only the artist's life but our own. Decrying the isolation of aesthetic experience as a mental process, Welch argues brilliantly for the definition of art as an active, participatory experience. Welch is adamant that complaisance will no longer do and, directing his attention to the university classroom, he urges us to re-examine the very nature of teaching. He views as a great problem the process of bifurcation by which philosophical, historical, and critical analysis can isolate the viewer from the art work instead of bringing him into it. He warns against the propensity to label...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 558-559
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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