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HUMANITIES 133 Par l'etendue de son champ d'investigation, par sa coherence et par la finesse de son ecriture, le livre Precis des figures de style se revele aussi comme un veritable precis de style des figures. D'ailleurs, ii faudrait ici signaler que cet excellent volume a recemment r~ le prix de l'Association des professeurs de franc;ais des universites et colleges canadiens, qu'il a, amon avis, grandement merite. (PAUL PERRON) H.B. de Groot and Alexander Leggatt, editors. Craft and Tradition: Essays in Honour of William Blissett University of Calgary Press 1990. 334. $22.95 paper By their Festschrifts shall ye know them. The high standard of work gathered in this collection honouring W.F. Blissett is indicative of the respect and affection he inspires throughout the scholarly world. A longtime editor of this Quarterly, 'our Bill, our WFB, / Professor Blissett' (as George Johnston addresses him in a dedicatory stanza) is notoriously omnivorous in his interests, so Alexander Leggatt and H.B. de Groot could have opened a Pandora's box with their invitation to contributors for 'essays they thought would interest him.' What did arrive corresponds fairly closely to the character of the appended checklist of Blissett's principal writings (compiled by de Groot and Douglas Freake): Renaissance poets and playwrights, modernist poets, Wagner; the place of language and religion in literature; the nature and value of order and form. To begin with the last subject, John Tucker seeks in The Waste umd 'the logic of its primary divisions,' which he identifies as 'the succession of literary periods' (as in Joyce's 'Oxen of the Sun' segment), combined with the order of the ceremony of the Mass. Germaine Warkentin, with intermittent side-glances at Eliot's handling of 'the simultaneity of the stable and the changeful' in Burnt Norton, illuminates the order of Epithalamion through a pattern of stanzaic symmetries (illustrated by a graph). Yet like the other Spenserians in the collection (A.C. Hamilton, Sean Kane, Gordon Teskey), she is even more engaged by Spenser's 'will to investigate those areas in which our confidence in the order of things breaks down.' It should be no surprise that such concern for 'broken symmetries' (Kane), deliberate inconsistencies (Teskey), and indeterminate closure (Hamilton) finds a major source in Blissett's seminal 'Spenser's Mutabilitie' of 1964. A.C. Hamilton's overview of The Faerie Queene may well become another such indispensable reference point. With its reflection of the work of Patricia Parker (1979) and Balachandra Rajan (1984), it turns from the old view that 'the chief business of criticism [is] to impose some kind of closure on a literary work,' to embrace the century's-end hunch that 'rejection of form ... brings us closer to [The 134 LETTERS IN CANADA 1991 Faerie Queene] than the earlier effort to isolate it as an aesthetic object.' lndeed, while the word 'craft,' in the book's title, has in our century normally evoked classicist associations, this volume is shot through with an examination of craft as deferral, asymmetry, incompletion - a romanticist craft. ln Thomas R. Whitaker's sparkling study of H.D.'s Trilogy, for instance, we are invited to discover in the modernist poem sequence (by H.D. Stevens, Eliot, Jones, Crane, Williams, Aiken, Duncan) a 'poetics of passage,' embodied in an interpretive quest, useful while in progress, incapable of final attainment: 'a labyrinthine icon of an imperfectly apprehended telos.' This kind of insistence on the poetic resistance to orderly order turns up all the way from studies of the Re.naissance stage (John Margeson: 'Jonson and Chapman point to the compromises and stratagems which even good magistrates or rulers must use in the real world of politics') to a look at Playboy ofthe Western World: Ann Saddlemyer reminds us of Synge's rage for both harmony and chaos, a tussle which makes that play a 'celebration of the art [of comedy] itself.' The source of poetry in the quarrel with the self turns several contributors to a study of character - biographical, fictive, or both. Brian Parker somewhat flatters Ronald Harwood's 1980 play The Dresser by linking the lives of its playwright and his sometime employer...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 133-136
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-25
Open Access
No
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