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L ’E sprit C réateur but no one before Pasco had shown so compellingly how the pastor unconsciously uses the misprision and omission of Biblical passages to justify his own desires. His wife and son protest, while themselves faithfully following New Testament precepts. Chapter 7, “ Allusive Permutations: La Nausée, Les Gommes,” shows convincingly how Sartre’s move from parody to allusion reflects the triumph of Roquentin’s self-deception in making art a supreme value. I would also single out Pasco’s treatments of Robbe-Grillet, Balzac’s Eugénie Grandet (ch. 6) and Anouilh’s Antigone (ch. 3) for their exceptional clarity. To treat allusion is to ask, “What does the text mean?” To compose a book is to ask, “ What does it mean to be a literary critic?” Pasco implies three answers to the latter ques­ tion. The first, in essays first published in 1971 (Proust, ch. 5) and 1973 (Barbey, ch. 4), is that through the accumulation of erudition we can hope to achieve transcendence. The second, in the materials from 1978 and 1979 (La Faute de l’abbé Mouret, ch. 7), is that criticism allows us vicariously to explore our anguishing division between flesh (in every sense) and spirit, precept and practice. The final answer, suggested elsewhere, is that to be a literary critic means to find Christ—in a learned, sophisticated, and pertinent way, never obscuring with ideology the complexity of the human condition in an unbelieving world. L a u r e n c e M . P o r t e r Michigan State University RichardJ. Golsan. R e n é G i r a r d a n d M y th : A n I n t r o d u c t i o n . New York: Garland, 1993. Pp. vii + 237. $38. This is probably the best condensed version of the entire mimetic theory available in English so far, with a focus on its hermeneutic relevance when applied to world and Biblical mythology. The first two chapters follow the chronological steps of the elaboration of the mimetic theory, starting from the notion of mimetic desire as conceptualized in Girard’s compara­ tive reading of western novelists, then moving on to his hypothesis of cultural genesis through a psychosocial process of collective violence, the scapegoat mechanism. Chapter One elucidates the most subtle forms of mimetic desire that develop in the advanced stages of the internal mediation, such as the denial of the mediator, pseudonarcissism, and the major psychopathological symptoms. Chapter Two retraces all the phases of the scapegoat process from mimetic desire to rivalry, general violent undifferentiation (or sacrificial crisis), collective victimage and cultural foundation. Chapter Three develops how myths are the memory of actual mob violence recorded from the perspective of persecutors unanimously convinced about the guilt of their victim, who is then deified by the group. Golsan points out Girard’s debt towards Lévi-Strauss, stressing that only the elimination of an actual victim may account for Lévi-Strauss’ dis­ covery of the structural significance of a “ radical elimination,” which remains, in the ethnologist’s view, a purely conceptual operation of the “ savage mind.” In Chapter Four Golsan focuses on the contrast between world mythology, structured by the transfiguration of violence into sacred forms, and the Bible, which by its unique, permanent victimocentrism, gradually reveals all violent processes underlying cultural foundations, and thus prevents any new sacralization to occur. Despite Christian and antiChristian misinterpretations, “ the Gospels are the text that demystifies and denounces mimetic desire and sacrificial violence” (105). Chapter Five features various critics, relatively limited in their scope, who address Girard. Since neither Lévi-Strauss nor any other major mythologist (such as Dumézil, for 94 Fa l l 1995 Book Reviews instance) have reacted to the mimetic theory, the first part of this chapter is less interesting than the second one, which moves to the fecundity of mimetic theory among the social sciences, concluding that its “ most controversial contribution is to have renewed the dialogue between the Judeo-Christian tradition and modem intellectual life” (128). The book ends with an interview of Girard by Golsan, followed by an analysis of a Venda myth. With...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 94-95
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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