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HUMANITIES 517 opposite ends of the campus: for their single joint session, the smaller group of Lowry devotees trooped over to swell the indifferent mass of ensconced Joyceans), but such personal consciousness or Lmconsciousness only begins to touch on relations between these two important writers. Inverting the usual balance of power, the volume under review makes Lowry the somewhat privileged figure (Lowryans are almost always, like their author, aware of Joyce: Joyceans, focused on the Master, may or may not be aware of anyone else). An unusually strong collection by various hands~ ]ayce/Lowry overall assumes Ulysses and Under the Volcano as their authors' masterworks: only Suzanne Kim's essay deals at any length with the Kilnstlerromans, Joyce's Portrait and Lowry's Ultramarine, and only Patrick McCarthy's so much as mentions the fictional writings of either that postdate the canonical Great Novel. The volume gets off to a stim.ulating start by positioning Sherrill Grace's strong argument for distinguishing the essentially comic Joyce from the tragic Lowry against Joseph Voelker's less traditional contention for a deeply comic sense underlying both, each critic making pivotal use .of 'Circe' to buttress opposing positions. One could hardly expect the serendipity of such a conjunction to be repeated, and although the collection does dose with two pieces concerningliterature and film, they are not reaJJy a matched pair: Paul Tiessen's interesting case for the broader implications of Lowry's passionate involvement in film (as opposed to Joyce's suspicion and basic indiiference) is simply not paralleled by Rebecca Hughes and Jolm O'Hara's (to this reader, less convincing) defence of John Huston's versions of works by our writers. Jn between, the two are brought together in a number of ways using a number of approaches, some of the more suggestive of which are Chris Ackerley's eloquent consideration of the weight of tmcertainty and meaningful design in Ulysses and Under the Volcano, Richard Cross's lucid and insightful consideration of the central theme of love in both books~ and Martin Bock's pursuit of syphilitic symptoms through various works, a fascinating study in cultural response. But it is fair to say that there is not a rotten apple in this barret and if Patrick McCarthy's introduction focuses tightly on the questions of affinity and influence that provide the immediate critical context for these new considerations ofJoyce and Lowry~ the entire volume will be of interest to any reader concerned with modernism as a whole. (FREDERICK ASALS) Patricia Rae. The Practical Muse: Pragm11tist Poetics in Hulme, Potmd, and Stevens Bucknell University Press. 320. us$46.50 In this fine study of the 'pragmatist poetics' of three early modernist writers, Patricia Rae's principal adversary is Richard Rorty and his contention that 'nee-pragmatism' is exemplified by modernist writing or 518 LEITERS IN CANADA 1997 'the kind of literature which prides itself on its autonomy and novelty rather than its truthfulness to experience.' Rae's project is twofold: to convince us of the superiority of WiUiam James's cautiously optimistic pragmatism over the radical scepticism of Rorty and to show how Jarnesian pragmatism is exemplified in the poetics of T.E. Hulme, Ezra Pound, and Wallace Stevens. The 'preferred mode of expression' of these modernist writers, she argues, 'is not the "fiction" but the nhypothesis/'' not simply the satisfying proposition but the 'practical truth' which can be tested empirically, revised, and acted upon. In terms of poetics, this amounts to an attack on what Geoffrey Hartman calls the 'vatic overestimation of poetry' but not a renunciation of all claims to truth-telling. As Rae succinctly puts it, Stevens, presumably Hke other modernists, 'is at least as vigilant of the dangers of believing too little as he is of believing too much.' Rae's discussion of Stevens's 'practical muse' is the longest and most convincing. Recently a number of critics have discussed the influence of James and his student George Santayana, a friend of Stevens's, on the American poet, but Rae maintains that these studies have turned Stevens into an 'ontological and epistemological "pessimist" ... a complacent aesthete, disinclined to look into the facts.' Thus Rae wants to defend...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 517-519
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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