In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

L ’E sprit C réateur age” (28) for his death recasts the newly invented electric chair used to punish an inhuman man. Nonetheless, this book (it could have been titled “ Machine, Metaphor, and the Male Writer” ) is criticism with its convictions showing. Its mission is such that its misreadings are forgiven in a rush of gratitude for Knapp’s concern with our quality of life and her agenda for the reader’s self-awareness. This is what Jung wanted. L in da K lieoer S tillm an Nathaniel Wing. T he L imits of N arrative: E ssays on Baudelaire, F laubert, R im baud & M allarm é. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986. Pp. x + 155. $29.95. The dissolution of narrative history and concomitant dispersal of the integral, authori­ tative self in recent criticism have themselves sought authorization in a story that finds the beginnings of our modernism in Nietzsche and Mallarmé. As Nathaniel Wing shows, the restricted economy of desire in traditional narrative, based on such oppositions as self/ other, real/imaginary, past/present, and text/fact, had broken down at least a generation before Mallarmé’s “ Crise de vers” (1886). After tracing the fissures and exchanges that redistribute those oppositions in texts by the writers named in the subtitle, he explores the affiliations of literary and social change between 1848 and 1875. The first of two chapters on Baudelaire treats his use of allegory, a figure that critics (including Baudelaire) have disparaged because of its apparent fixation of meaning. When the allegorical signified stands as a sign of a prior signified, and the irony that would con­ tain allegory is itself treated ironically, the subject and its stories lose their coherence. Here Wing draws on themes from Paul de Man’s “ The Rhetoric of Temporality” to illuminate Baudelaire’s practice in Les Fleurs du mat. The following chapter, on Le Spleen de Paris, shows how the deconstructed subject attempts to reconstitute itself in narcissistic and sado­ masochistic exchanges with a double or the opposite sex (love and art being exemplary sites of the latter exchange). In less agonistic relationships, exemplified in “ Les Foules,” the textual subject loosens its hold on self-identity to enter “ a mobile and exhilarating network of differences” (40). The distance between the impersonal narrator and Emma in Madame Bovary would appear to preclude the interaction of self and other that is possible in the je-tu dyad charac­ teristic of the lyric. By approaching the issue of the narrator’s relationship to Emma through a study of her own emergence as a storyteller, Wing uncovers a hitherto unnoticed aspect of their similarity. From her first attempts to understand how the félicité, passion, and ivresse in books could have meaning in experience, Emma eventually emerges as a nar­ rator of desire in her letters to Léon. If her delusion of fulfilled desire leads necessarily to an end in its death, the illusion created by the “ impersonal” narrator, who has sacrificed a self for the permanence of aesthetic form, must follow the same trajectory to tell and finish the tale. The attempt to achieve narrative self-identity takes another form in autobiography, Une Saison en enfer here serving as Wing’s example. Traditionally, as he says, its object has been to unite the “ I” of histoire (often conveyed in the simple past tense) with the present “ I” of discours, or—in another register—the subject of the énonciation with that of the énoncé. Rimbaud’s efforts to unify the past with presence—whether by incorporating the past, rejecting it in a disruptive “ pagan tongue,” or fantasizing a future—lead unevenly toward a present discours “ in which each articulation of the / produces the mark of non­ coincidence” that cannot free itself from the past or become “ absolutely modern” by 110 S u m m e r 1990 Book Reviews creating a counter-discourse freed from the entailments of language. After a chapter on “ L’Après-midi d’un faune,” as rich in perception as those that pre­ cede it, Wing turns to Marx’s writings on the years 1848-1851 and the trials of Flaubert and Baudelaire in 1857, exploring the crossings of political...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 110-111
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.