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HUMANITIES 571 approaches, producing a 'situated and historicized criticism' which offers more fruitful avenues of approach to the style and meaning of Webb's poetry, and which accounts for the processes of the construction of meaning both in the poetry and in the critic's own analysis. Finally, chapter 8 provides a 'bio-text' which situates the poetry within the context of the events of Webb's life; this chapter is particularly interesting for the glimpses it offers into the politics of Canadian literary production and canon formation over the course of Webb's career. Butling's aim is to contribute to the contemporary critical opening up of entrances into what she calls the 'dark' of Webb's poetry, which she defines as the 'dark' of the Western patriarchal symbolic order which ascribes such negative attributes as darkness and irrationality to women. Butting argues that even in her earliest work, but more particularly in work produced after her introduction to Black Mountain postmodernist poetics in the early 1960s, Webb's writing works to undermine the binary oppositions of Western thought: 'Webb blurs [the] Enlighterunent bifurcation of mind/body, reason/sensuality by initiating a seeing within the dark,' articulating the experience of the 'other' and working to decentre the sovereign subject and open up possibilities of multiple subjectivities. Butling'scarefulreadings of Webb's poems are nuanced and perceptive, and her argument that Webb's poetics enact a feminist politics of social change is persuasive. Her study represents a substantial contribution to the critical literature on the work of this fascinating and often quite difficult poet. The circular structure that Butling has chosen, however, presents some problems of redundancy. In moving back and forth through the body of Webb's poetry, she offers the reader cross-references between chapters, but nevertheless, the same lines are sometimes analysed in different chapters, the same points sometimes made twice. The book itself is handsomely produced, but contains too many typographical and spelling errors. A university press should provide more careful and rigorous copy editing; failure to correct obvious errors is a disservice to both author and reader. (LINDA LAMONT-STEWART) Robert F. Barsky. Noam Chonzskl;: A Life of Dissent ECW Press. xii, 238. $32.95 Noam Chomsky, the most cited living person and among the top ten of all time, makes a tough subject for a biographer. Now sixty-nine, Chomsky keeps adding to the more than one thousand articles and seventy books he has produced in politics, linguistics, psychology, and philosophy. The responses to Chomsky's work themselves make a vast literature. Chomsky has received numerous honours in several fields, including the 1988 Kyoto 572 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Prize (a Japanese equivalent to the Nobel) for work in the basic sciences, and a place on Richard Nixon's political enemies list. And Chomsky, who has not even seen Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992), the popular documentary film about his political work, distrusts biography because it hides the roles played by people 'whose names no one has heard, and who disappear from history.' Yet biographies are inevitable, and Robert Barsky has written a readable and admiring account of Chomsky to date. Chomsky's fierce insistence on fact, his clear view of large questions lurking in tiny details, and his tough optimism about human potential become features of Barsky's writing. Barsky introduces his readers to Chomsky and spares us the biographer's grand hypothesis. This is Chomsky, Barsky says1 and here are things that will help you to know him. Barsky mirrors Chomsky's Cartesian common sense. Barsky tells a story. This story fuses biography, the history of events, and the history of ideas. Barsky's most distinctive contribution.lies in his articulatio~ of the qualities in the man that yield what seems like two men: the Chomsky of scientific linguistic investigation and the Chomsky of polemical political critique. Chomsky dismisses links between the linguistic and the political, but here the biographer's work begins. Barsky identifies the defining elements of Chomsky's genius. Absolute clarity, moral and intellectual, is one. Chomsky1 s puritanical rationalism and reverence for fact underwrote his assault on the linguistic orthodoxies in the late 1950s. The...


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