Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Winter 1974

Volume 1 Issue 2
    • 229James S. Ackerman
    • It may seem reasonable, even inevitable, that architectural practice should be based on an understanding that architects, like lawyers and doctors, should discover their clients' needs and accommodate them to the best of their abilities. But current discussion within the legal and medical professions of the conflict between service to private individuals who can pay, and to the public who cannot, suggest an expanded or altered definition of professional responsibility. Actually, the conflict between public and private interest may be more acute in architecture than in other professions: the kind of buildings architects design are costly and are made possible only by the wealth of a small segment of the population or the state, yet every one raised affects the lives of people other than the one who makes the program and pays the architect for his services. Furthermore, the decisions of architects are embodied in buildings that last for generations, even for millennia, so that the overwhelming majority of people in our culture live and work in places designed not only for other people but for other times and conditions. For this reason, even the "private" practice of architecture involves responsibilities to a widespread constituency.

      See also: James S. Ackerman, On Judging Art without Absolutes

      James S. Ackerman is the author of The Architecture of Michelango, Art and Archaeology, The Cortille del Belvedere, Palladio and Palladio's Villas and is professor of fine arts at Harvard University. He has contributed "On Judging Art without Absolutes" (Spring 1979) to Critical Inquiry.

    • 245Ralph W. Radar
    • We are free to get our theories where we will. As Einstein said, the emergence of a theory is like an egg laid by a chicken, "auf einmal ist es da.1" In practice theories are usually derived as improvements on earlier theories, as better tools are refinements of earlier, cruder ones; and they are directed explanatorily not at the facts of their own construction but at independently specifiable facts which, left unexplained by earlier theories, have therefore refuted them. A new theory should cogently and directly explain all that its predecessors explain and in addition those particular facts which they conspicuously do not explain. The ideal is to have the simplest possible premises explaining most precisely the widest possible range of problematical facts.


      ·  1. Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (New York, 1971), p.173 n.

      See also: Ralph W. Rader, The Logic of "Ulysses"; Or, Why Molly Had to Live in Gibraltar

      Ralph W. Rader has written Tennyson's "Maud": The Biographical Genesis. Among his influential articles are "Literary Form in Factual Narrative: The Example of Boswell's Johnson" and "The Concept of Genre and Eighteenth-Century Studies." He is professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley. His contributions to Critical Inquiry are "Explaining Our Literary Understanding: A Response to Jay Schleusener and Stanley Fish" (June 1975), "The Dramatic Monologue and Related Lyric Forms"(Autumn 1976), and "The Literary Theoretical Contribution of Sheldon Sacks" (Winter 1979).

    • 273John M. Wallace
    • My title is taken from the frontispiece to Ogilby's translation of Aesop (1665); since every Renaissance poet believed the statement to be true, let me start with my own example.


      John Denham's only play, The Sophy, published in August 1642, is a tale about the perils of jealousy. The good prince Mirza, after a miraculous victory over the Turks, returns in glory to his father's court, but leaves it shortly thereafter. In his absense, Haly, the evil courtier, follows a friend's advice to " work on [the king's] fears, till fear hath made him cruel"1 and poisons the king's mind with jealousy against his son. Mirza returns only to be brutally blinded and killed, and the emperor soon dies stricken with remorse. Now it happens that Parliament justified all its actions in the months preceding the civil war on the grounds of the "fears and jealousies" that the king had inspired. Charles was incensed by the slogan and claimed angrily that he, if anyone, had the most cause for fears and jealousies.2


      Denham obviously decided that here was the all-consuming topic around which a predominantly royalist drama could be written. He followed what I believe was the standard practice - the method that Fulke Greville said Sidney used and that Congreve repeated at the end of the century when he declared of The Double Dealer that "I design'd the Moral first, and to that Moral I invented the Fable."3 He found a plot in Thomas Herbert's Travels into Diverse Parts of Asia that recorded some terrible cruelties and catastrophes caused by jealousy, and he added the point that the emperor's mind had been wrought upon by his counselor. There is no evidence that the play was ever acted, but the most casual reader would have said to himself, "Yes, history reminds us that states destroy themselves through fears and jealousies, and we should abate our own before it is too late."


      ·  1. Sir John Denham, The Poetical Works, ed. Theodore Howard Banks, 2d ed. (Hamden, Conn., 1969), p.245. The references to fear and jealousy are so ubiquitous in the play that they need not be listed here.

      ·  2. On March 1, 1642, in the angriest of his replies to Parliament so far, Charles exclaimed, "You speake of Jealousies and Feares: Lay your hands to your hearts, and aske your selves whether I may not likewise be disturbed with Feares and Jealousies: And if so, I assure you this Message hath nothing lessened them" (An Exact Collection of All Remonstrances...[London, 1643], p. 94). Although phrases like "distempers and jealousies" had been used earlier, Clarendon on two occasions is quite specific that "fears and jealousies" were "the new words which served to justify all indispositions and to excuse all disorders" in January 1642 (The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, ed. W. Dunn Macray [Oxford, 1888]1:493; see also p. 535). Taken with other evidence, Clarendon's remarks strongly suggest that The Sophy was written after Coopers Hill, and during seven months preceding its publication in August 1642.

      ·  3. William Congreve, The Complete Plays, ed. Herbert Davis (Chicago, 1967), p. 119. And compare John Donne in Sermons, ed. Evelyn M. Simpson are George R. Potter (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1953-62), 9:274: "All wayes of teaching are Rule and Example: and though ordinarily the Rule be first placed, yet the Rule it selfe is made of Examples...for, Example in matter of Doctrine, is as Assimiliation in matter of Nourishment; The Example makes that that is proposed for our learning and farther instruction, like something which we knew before, as Assimilation makes that meat, which we have received and digested, like those parts which are in our bodies before."

      See also: Phillip Harth, The New Criticism and Eighteenth-Century Poetry

      John M. Wallace, author of Destiny His Choice: The Loyalism of Andrew Marvell and articles on Milton, Dryden Denham, Traherne, and Arnold, is professor of English at the University of Chicago.

    • 291Philip Gossett
    • The existence of extensive written communications between Verdi and his librettists should have prompted scholars to prepare editions of the correspondence and to analyze its meaning and implications. Only rarely can we participate directly in the formative stages of an opera, and available material such as the correspondence between Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal is invaluable.1 Obeisance, at least, has been done to Verdi's correspondence. Alessandro Luzio calls the letters of Verdi to Antonio Ghislanzoni, "versifier" of Aida (we shall return to this formulation in a moment), "the most marvelous course in musical aesthetics in action." Yet, for no opera do we have available a complete editions of the surviving letters between Verdi and a librettist.


      ·  1. Willi Schuh, ed., Richard Strauss - Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Briedwechsel, 4th ed. (Zurich, 1970). An English edition, made from an earlier German edition with many omissions, was published as A Working Friendship: The Correspondence between Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, trans. Hans Hammelmann and Ewald Osers (New York, 1961).

      See also: Sheldon Sacks, Chimera II: The Margins of Mutual Comprehension

      Philip Gossett is the general editor of the critical edition of the works of Rossini and author of numerous articles on Renaissance music, Italian opera, Beethoven, and musical theory.

    • 335Murray Krieger
    • I begin by asking an engagingly naive question that a layman would have every right to put to us - and often has. Why should we interest ourselves seriously in the once-upon-a-time worlds of fiction - these unreal stories about unreal individuals? It has been a persistent question in the history of criticism - ever since Plato called the poet a liar - and it is a question at once obvious and embarrassing. It is obvious because, for the apologist for imaginative literature, it becomes a prolegomenon to all further questions; and it is embarrassing because merely to ask it threatens to put literature out of business and, with it, all those who treat it as a serious and world-affecting art. Why, then, should we interest ourselves seriously in fictions? However elementary, it is a question that is more easily asked than answered.

      See also: Murray Krieger, Poetic Presence and Illusion: Renaissance Theory and the Duplicity of Metaphor

      Murray Krieger is the author of The Tragic Vision and The Classic Vision, which have recently been reprinted in the two-volume paperback Visions of Extremity in Modern Literature. He is University Professor of English and director of the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California at Irvine. "Poetic Presence and Illusion: Renaissance Theory and the Duplicity of Metaphor," another contribution to Critical Inquiry, appeared in the Winter 1974 issue.

    • 361Barbara Currier Bell and Carol Ohmann
    • As a critic, Virginia Woolf has been called a number of disparaging names: "impressionist," "belletrist," "raconteur," "amateur." Here is one academic talking on the subject: "She will survive, not as a critic, but as a literary essayist recording the adventures of a soul among congenial masterpieces. . . . The writers who are most downright, and masculine, and central in their approach to life - Fielding or Balzac - she for the most part left untouched....Her own approach was at once more subterranean and aerial, and invincibly, almost defiantly, feminine." In other words, Virginia Woolf is not a critic; how could she be? She is a woman. From its beginning, criticism has been a man's world. This is to say not only that males have earned their living as critics but, more importantly, that the conventionally accepted ideals of critical method are linked with qualities stereotypically allotted to males: analysis, judgment, objectivity. Virginia Woolf has had a poor reputation as a critic not merely because her sex is female but because her method is "feminine." She writes in a way that is said to be creative, appreciative, and subjective. We will accept this descriptive for the moment but will later enlarge on it, and even our provisional acceptance we mean to turn to a compliment.

      See also: Carol Ohmann and Richard Ohmann, Universals and the Historically Particular

      Barbara Currier Bell has written articles on critical theory and modern poetry and has served as a consultant on women's education at both Vassar and Hampshire Colleges. She is assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University. Carol Ohmann is the author of Ford Madox Ford: From Apprentice to Craftsman and several articles on English and American fiction. She coedited Female Studies IV: Teaching about Women with Elaine Showalter and is chairman of the Department of English at Wesleyan University. She has contributed, with Richard Ohmann, "Reviewers, Critics, and The Catcher in the Rye (Autumn 1976), and "CRITICAL RESPONSE: Universals and the Historically Particular" (Summer 1977).

    • 373Gerald Mast
    • When Andre Bazin's most important essays on film were collected together in a single volume and titled What is Cinema? they raised a question that Bazin did not answer. Nor did he intend to. Nor has it been answered by any of the other theorists who have written what now seem to be the major works on film theory and who now seem the most influential (and intellectually ambitious) spokesmen for the art. Rudolf Arnheim, Andre Bazin, Stanley Cavell, S. M. Einstein, Siegfried Kracauer, Christian Metz, Hugo Munsterberg, Erwin Panofsky, and Gene Youngblood have failed to define what cinema essentially is.1 Unlike Ionesco's comically methodical Logician, they have been less than careful about posing the problem correctly. As a result they have been less than successful and less than precise with a deceptively difficult and complicated issue. They have defined some kinds of cinema, they have defined some of the qualities unique to those kinds of cinema, they have defined the characteristics and devices they find most valuable in some of those kinds of cinema, they simply have not defined cinema.


      ·  1. Relevant sections of all these theorists can be found in Gerald Mast and Marshall Cohen, eds., Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings (London and New York, 1974).

      See also: Gerald Mast, Kracauer's Two Tendencies and the Early History of Film Narrative

      Gerald Mast, associate professor of humanities at Richmond College of the City University of New York, has written A Short History of the Movies, The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Movies, Filmguide to the Rules of the Game, and Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings (coedited with Marshall Cohen). This article is part of a forthcoming book, What Isn't Cinema? He has also contributed "Kracauer's Two Tendencies and the Early History of Film Narrative" (Spring 1980) to Critical Inquiry.

    • 395Francisco Ayala
    • In the history of literary criticism the name of Ortega y Gasset is indispensable, since in this, as well as in all other sectors of cultural activity, the influence of his thought has been most decisive. He opened paths and established guidelines that remain in effect; his vision of the Quijote not only counterbalanced that of Unamuno, against which it purposely rebelled, but also, by underscoring the resources called into play by Cervantes in composing his master work, he has shaped the attitudes of subsequent professional and academic criticism; and his analysis of the personalities of such important writers as Baroja is as yet unsurpassed.


      Among his many influential works, Francisco Ayala has written Reflexiones sobre la estructura narrativa (criticism) and España, a la fecha. (essays). His collected fiction appeared in 1969 under the title Obras narrativas completas. At Professor Ayala's request, this essay, and Ideas sobre Pío Baroja, by José Ortega y Gasset, were translated by Richard Ford.

    • 415José Ortega y Gasset
    • There are surely some dozens of young Spaniards who, submerged in the obscure depths of provincial existence, live in a perpetual and tacit irritation with the atmosphere around them. I can almost see them, in the corner of some social hall, silent, with embittered gaze and hostile mien, withdrawn into themselves like little tigers awaiting the moment for their vengeful, predatory leap. That corner and that frayed plush divan are like the solitary crag where the shipwrecked of monotony, of utter banality, of the abjection and emptiness of Spanish life, hope for better times. Not far away, playing their card games, making their petty politics, plotting their minimal business ventures, are the "life forces" of the community, these men who contrive this ominous moment in our national life.


      To these ungovernable and independent youths, determined not to evaporate into the impurity of their ambience, I dedicate this essay, whose subject is a free and pure man, a man who wishes to serve no one and who would ask nothing from anyone.


      José Ortega y Gasset wrote numerous influential works on aesthetics, culture, and philosophy, including La deshumanización del arte [The dehumanization of art], España invertebrada [Invertebrate Spain],and Ideas y creencias [Ideas and beliefs]. This essay, which appeared in 1916 in El espectador, is the author's most extensive treatment of the novelist Pío Baroja. This translation, the first in English, is by Richard Ford.

    • 47Denis Donoghue
    • It is common knowledge that Frank Kermode is engaged in a major study of fiction and the theory of fiction. I assume that "Novels: Recognition and Deception" in the first number of Critical Inquiry is part of that adventure, and that it should be read in association with other essays on cognate themes which he has published in the last two or three years. This may account for my impression that the Critical Inquiry essay is not independently convincing. There are splendid things in the essay, perceptions so definitively phrased that I cannot promise not to steal them. My copy of the journal is heavily marked on Kermode's pages, invariably on passages I dearly wish I had had the wit to write, notably his remark of certain fictions by Henry James that "they create gaps that cannot be closed, only gloried in; they solicit mutually contradictory types of attention and close only on a problem of closure." But these perceptions are like indelible events in the diction of a poem which, as a whole, does not seem to cohere.


      Denis Donoghue is professor of Modern English and American literature at University College, Dublin. His recent books include The Ordinary Universe: Soundings in Modern Literature, Emily Dickinson, Jonathan Swift: A Critical Introduction, William Butler Yeats, and Thieves of Fire.

    • 453David H. Richter
    • The first important reaction in favor of generic criticism here was that of the Chicago neo-Aristotelians, whose feisty polemics against the "New" critics must have seemed, in the 1940s and 1950s, like voices crying in the wilderness. The popularity of Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism—also ostensibly based upon Aristotle's examplewon the concept of genre broader support. And today, if the books covering my desk are anything to go by, genre criticism has emerged in force. The flood has brought forth historical studies of Renaissance genres, analyses of traditional genres like the picaresque or of new ones like "the fantastic," ambivalently generic essays in "thematics," efforts to systemize the genres of narrative fiction, and even attempt, through the philosophic analysis of dozens of generic systems, to go "beyond genre." Indeed, the late sixties spawned a journal entitled Genre entirely devoted to theoretical and practical criticism employing the concept.


      David H. Richter is the author of a forthcoming book: Fable's End: Completeness and Closure in Rhetorical Fiction, and an article on Jerzy Kosinski. He is assistant professor of English at Queens College of the City University of New York.