I have suggested that, despite his polemics on behalf of rightist attitudes, Davie is deeply committed to the liberalism of his generation of intellectuals. This commitment makes itself felt indirectly; it is in fact not fully expressed in the patently political poems. The poems that are frankly political, in terms of their content, are often rightist, but these poems, as I have indicated, do not show Davie's accomplishment; his poetic power lies elsewhere. In far better poems, Davie shows what I take to be a deeper allegiance, one that rests neither on his ideological beliefs nor on his class origins 22 but on certain habits of mind that derive from the liberal tradition. Although they operate throughout Davie's poetry, regardless of the particular subjects being treated, these habits always retain an almost silent gesture toward liberal ideals. Davie is often most deeply political when he seems to be least so. Of course one should not link away his rightist avowals; nor should one think of his rightism as deriving from the current critical perspective on liberal aspirations. His liberalism is nothing if not critical, and his righitst opinions express more desire than conviction. As I will try to show, below the level of content Davie as a poet shares the liberal presuppositions of his generation, and his rightism develops largely from a lack of faith in his audience.
22. In answer to Hamburger, Davie makes a point of his still strong bond to his family, which he refers to as "undeniably and proudly proletarian; and they include Labour Party activists" ("A Mug's Game?" p. 18).
Robert von Hallberg, associate professor of English at the University of Chicago, is the author of Charles Olson: The Scholar's Art and a coeditor of Critical Inquiry.
Pastoral seems a fairly accessible literary concept; most critics and readers seem to know what they mean by it, and they often seem to have certain works in mind that count as pastorals. But when we look at what has been written about pastoral in the last decades -- when it has become one of the flourishing light industries of academic criticism -- we find nothing like a coherent account of either its nature or its history. We are told that pastoral "is a double longing after innocence and happiness"; that its universal idea is the Golden Age; that it is based on the antithesis of Art and Nature; that its fundamental motive is hostility to urban life; that its "central tenet" is "the pathetic fallacy"; that it expresses the ideal of otium; that it is "the poetic expression par excellence of the cult of aesthetic Platonism" in the Renaissance or of Epicureanism in the Hellenistic world; that it is "that mode of viewing common experience through the medium of the rural world."1 It sometimes seems as if there are as many versions of pastoral as there are critics who write about it.
A definition of pastoral must first give a coherent account of its various features—formal, expressive, and thematic—and second, provide for historical continuity or change within the form. The basis of such a definition is provided by what Kenneth Burke calls a "representative anecdote":
Men seek for vocabularies that will be faithful reflections of reality. To this end, they must develop vocabularies that are selections of reality. And any selection of reality must, in certain circumstances, function as a deflection of reality. Insofar as the vocabulary meets the needs of reflection, we can say that it has the necessary scope. In its selectivity, it is a reduction. Its scope and reduction become a deflection when the given terminology, or calculus, is not suited to the subject matter which it is designated to calculate.
Dramatism suggests a procedure to be followed in the development of a given calculus, or terminology. It involves the search for a "representative anecdote," to be used as a form in conformity with which the vocabulary is constructed.6
Burke uses "anecdote" and not a more philosophically respectable term (like "instance" or "example") in order to emphasize the contingencies inherent in all such intellectual choices. Anecdote implies that they are inseparable from the stuff of reality with which they deal and that of their selection does not escape the conditions of ordinary accounts of our lives. (On the other hand, the term does not carry its normal implications of a story, as the examples cited in the next paragraph will show.) "Representative," as Burke uses it here, has a double meaning. An anecdote is representative in that (1) it is a typical instance of an aspect of reality and (2) by being typical it serves to generate specific depictions or representations of that reality.
1. The allusions are to the following: "double longing" (Renato Poggioli, The Oaten Flute [Cambridge, Mass., 1975], p. 1, all further references to this work will be included in the text); Golden Age (W.W. Greg, Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama [1906; New York, 1959], p. 5); Art and Nature (English Pastoral Poetry, ed. Frank Kermode [1952; New York, 1972], all further references to this work will be included in the text; and Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden [New York, 1967]); hostility to urban life (K.W. Gransden, "The Pastoral Alternative," Arethusa 3 : 103-21, 177-96; see also Raymond Williams, The Country and the City [London, 1973]); "pathetic fallacy" (E.W. Tayler, Nature and Art in Renaissance Literature [New York, 1964], p.154); otium (Hallett Smith, Elizabethan Poetry [Cambridge, Mass., 1952], p. 2), "aesthetic Platonism" (Richard Cody, The Landscape of the Mind [Oxford, 1969], p. 6); Epicureanism (Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, The Green Cabinet [Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1969]; "viewing common experience" (John Lynen, The Pastoral Art of Robert Frost [New Haven, Conn., 1960], p.9).
6. Kenneth Burke, A Grammar of Motives (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1969), p. 59. This is the beginning of the section entitled "Scope and Reduction."
Paul Alpers is professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of The Poetry of "The Faerie Queene" and The Singer of the Eclogues: A Study of Virgilian Pastoral. The present essay is part of a larger study entitled "Pastoral Poetics."
Our tendency is not to read Romantic poetry as alluding to the texts it reminds us of. We think of the Augustans as the author of what Reuben Brower calls "the poetry of allusion."5 We envision Romantic poets carrying on their work in reaction to these Augustans and in mysterious awe, whether fearful or admiring, of most other poets—sometimes even of each other. No self-respecting Romantic, it is usually assumed, will deliberately send his reader elsewhere for a meaning to complement the effect of his own words. If a reader's mind wanders to an earlier poem, that is not the Romantic poet's fault but a matter of accident or perhaps of cruel destiny. The Romantic wants to keep the poem an intimate affair—just the two of us—and does what he can to keep his reader's attention on himself.
What follows is an effort to test the applicability of Wasserman's Augustan hypothesis to the poetic mode of high Romanticism. This effort should not be taken to imply either that the Romantics simply continue in the allusive mode of the Augustans or that the assumptions that lead Bloom and others to read Romantic poetry as they do are utterly mistaken. I will in fact be arguing quite otherwise. Nor must there be any confusion about Wasserman's conception of the Augustan mode. Some of the language of his summary, for example where he speaks of "the rich interplay between the author's text and the full contexts it allusively arouses," might lead one to liken his work to the criticism now associated with the notion of "intertextuality." For the practitioners of this criticism, as Jonathan Culler explains, "to read is to place a work in a discursive space, relating it to other texts and to other codes of that space, and writing is a similar activity."8 Writing and reading a poem are in this account both acts of "intertextual location," if you will, but the reader of the poem need not concern himself with the aims and circumstances of its writer's "similar activity." The decisive difference between this view and the one Wasserman offers for the Augustans is that Wasserman's is intentionalist and historicist. This shows plainly in his exegetical commentary on the Rape, where his characteristic claim follows the formula: "Pope [expects, invites, prods, wants] his (contemporary) reader to [discover, exercise his wit on, recognize, see] X in his allusion to such-and-such a text." And to support his claim he repeatedly brings his historicist scholarship to bear on questions about "the kind of ready knowledge Pope demands of his reader" and what "facts [were] known to any serious reader" of the time.9
5. See Reuben Brower, Alexander Pope: The Poetry of Allusion (Oxford, 1959), esp. pp. 1-14.
8. Jonathan Culler, "Presupposition and Intertextuality," MLN 91 (1976): 1382-3; Culler refers primarily to the work of Roland Barthes and Julia Kristeva but notes that Bloom himself occasionally sounds curiously like an intertextualist critic.
9. Wasserman, "Limits of Allusion," pp. 427, 429. For a response to Wasserman less sympathetic than mine, see Irvin Ehrenpreis, Literary Meaning and Augustan Values (Charlottesville, Va., 1974), pp. 12-15.
James K. Chandler, an assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago, has published work on Wordsworth's poetry and politics and is currently completing a book on the subject.
The power of literature to resist "totalization," to divide and oppose whole meaning, to separate Being from the word, or to name Being as itself divided—this is de Man's oldest and best-defended idea. Behind its deconstructionist and semiological variations in the recent work is a long genealogy of such insistence.6 This "genealogy" (the metaphor is abhorrent to de Man) contains instructive continuities and aberrations. The continuities tend to show de Man to an extraordinary degree the captive of his beginnings. The aberrations pose a threat to the very criterion of rigor which he makes the touchstone of his position. I will restrict myself here to an account of what is coherent and what is incoherent in de Man's treatment of the category of error.
Error is not mistake. The concept of the mistake is usable, perhaps, within the restricted teleology of pragmatic acts or within the quasi-rigorous language of scientific description. Mistakes (or what de Man sometimes calls "mere error" [see, e.g., BI, p. 109]) are without true value: trivial, in principle corrigible according to a norm already known. But the skew of error implies a truth. Furthermore, the concept of error supplies to the categories of blindness and insight as much coherence as they are able to achieve. As we shall see, it brings together the constituents of the essential ambivalence of all literary and at least some philosophical language (see BI, p. viii).
6. In 1956, for instance, in a review of Nathalie Sarraute's L'Ère du Soupçon, de Man offered his reading of "the central moment of Ulysses, the carefully prepared encounter between Bloom and Stephan Dedalus": it "indicates, surely, the total impossiblity of any contact, of any human communication, even in the most disinterested love" (Monde Nouveau 11 [June 1956]:59; my translation).
Stanley Corngold, professor of German and comparative literature at Princeton University, is the author of books and articles on Kafka, including The Commentator's Despair and an annotated translation of The Metamorphosis. A volume of his essays on the question of the self in Hölderlin, Dilthey, Nietzsche, Freud, Kafka, Mann, and Heidegger is forthcoming.
Whenever a binary pair is being analyzed or "deconstructed," the implication is never that the opposition is without validity in a given empirical situation (no one in his right mind could maintain that it is forever impossible to tell night from day or hot from cold) but only that the figure of opposition involved in all analytical judgments is not reliable, precisely because it allows, in the realm of language to which, as figure, it belongs, for substitutions that cannot occur in the same manner in the world of experience. When one moves from empirical oppositions such as night and day to categorical oppositions such as truth and falsehood, the epistemological stakes increase considerably because, in the realm of concepts, the principle of exclusion applies decisively. The critical function of deconstruction is not to blur distinctions but to identify the power of linguistic figuration as it transforms differences into oppositions, analogies, contiguities, reversals, crossings, and any other of the relationships that articulate the textual field of tropes and of discourse. Hence the distinctively critical, in the not necessarily benign Kantian sense, function of texts, literary or other, with regard to aesthetic, ethical, epistemological, and practical judgements they are bound to generate. These judgements are never merely contingent mistakes or merely preordained errors, nor can they be kept in abeyance between the two mutually exclusive alternatives. As Pascal said with regard to the coercive choice between dogmatism and skepticism, the refusal to decide between them, since it is itself a conceptual rather than a contingent decision, is always already a choice for error over mistake. Conversely, any decision one makes with regard to the absolute truth or falsehood value of a text always turns out to be a mistake. And it will remain one unless the perpetrator of the mistake becomes critically aware of the abusive schematization that caused his mistake and thus transforms the mistaking of error (for mistake) into the error of mistaking.
Paul de Man, Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University, is the author of Blindness and Insight and Allegories of Reading and is currently completing a book tentatively titled The Resistance to Theory. His previous contributions to Critical Inquiry are "Political Allegory in Rousseau" (Summer 1976) and "The Epistemology of Metaphor" (Autumn 1978).
The role of the reader is central to the epistolary genre because the letters anticipate a reader within the novel's framework. There is the letter's intended recipient (destinataire), the occasional interceptor, the invented publisher and/or editor who organize(s) the collected correspondence, and the extrafictional reader who reads the collection in its entirety, including the disclaiming or condemning prefaces which precede it. The epistolary form, however, with so many layers of readers, considerably complicates the issue of reader response. If we share, for example, Stanley Fish's assumption that "literature is in the reader," the epistolary novel apparently reverses the formula: the reader is in the literature.
And yet it is in the novel of letters that the reader, the fictional reader, most clearly creates the text. Let us return to Merteuil's admonishment to Cécile: "Voyez donc à soigner davantage votre style…. Vous voyez bien que, quand vous écrivez à quelqu'un, c'est pur lui et non pas pour vous: vous devez donc moins chercher à lui dire ce que vous pensez, que ce qui lui plaît davantage."2 If a reader's response to a given sentence is colored by the previous one, the epistolary novel achieves the same effect within a larger unit: each letter is determined by the one which precedes it. In this sense the letter is a grammatical unit, a larger sentence. Moreover, a letter-novel presents the possibility of an architectural as well as conceptual interruption. That is, whereas insufficiencies in a first-or third-person narrative must consist of circumlocutions, repetitions, and exclusions of information, the letter-novel can create a concrete insufficiency by a lost, suppressed, stolen, or interrupted letter. In such cases the letter must function without its precedent since the destinataire remains empty-handed. Thus, the epistolary novel has a great capacity for mise en abîme.
Both inside and outside the narrative, there always is a destinataire; and even if he is the wrong one in the context of the récit he is the intended one for the histoire.3 In any case, the extrafictional reader is the final destinataire and holds a privileged position. And yet, he too is subject to interruptions: here the editor rears his head by claiming in footnotes that a letter is lost, too damaged to decipher, or so boring or obscene that he has seen fit to exclude it; these footnotes are the only "letters" addressed to and meant for us. At this point the editor removes his mask but remains on stage. Apart from such tricks, however, we do read every letter available, each of which is addressed to another reader, a system of the once removed or of the "letter in suffrance." Or, loosely interpreting Jacques Lacan, a purloined letter means that a letter always arrives at its destination.4
2. Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liasons dangereuses (Paris 1961), letter 105, p. 247; all subsequent quotations are taken from this edition and will be identified by letter and page number in the text. "Therefore attend more to your style....You must well know that, when you write to someone, it is for him and not for you: you must therefore seek less to tell him what you think, than what pleases him more"; here and elsewhere my translation.
3. I am using the French terms of Gérard Genette to avoid confusion caused by English equivalents. "Récit is often translated as discourse, plot, narrative, subject, narration; histoire as story, events, myth, and so forth.
4. See Jacques Lacan, "Seminar on'The Purloined Letter,'" trans. Jeffrey Mehlman, Yale French Studies 48 (1972): 38-72; all further references to this work, abbreviated as "SPL," will be included in the text. The final sentence reads as follows: "Thus it is that what the 'purloined letter,' nay, the 'letter in suffrance' means is that a letter always arrives at its destination." What Lacan means by this statement has to do with the language of the unconscious, or of unconscious Desire. Each individual sends his own message of "truth" of identity. Earlier in this passage Lacan says: "The sender, we tell you , receives from the receiver his own message in reverse form." ("Lettre" has for Lacan two meanings: epistle and typographical character.)
Françoise Meltzer is an associate professor of Romance language and literatures and of comparative literature at the University of Chicago. Her previous contributions to Critical Inquiry are "Color as Cognition in Symbolist Verse" (Winter 1978) and the translation of Christian Metz's "Trucage and the Film" (Summer 1977). She is presently working on the relationship between rhetoric and psychoanalytic terminology.
Deliberately employing rather vague terms, let us postulate a literature of the past and a literature of today.
Two very simple ways of bringing them into relation are conceivable. One might adopt a prospective attitude, which would consider today's literature in the light of the past's. Or one might adopt a retrospective attitude, which would consider the literature of the past in the light of today's. The two positions are not equivalent. The prospective attitude is threatened with sterility: it may well find itself mainly seeking in today's literature the trace of that which was active in the literature of the past, that is, the persistence of something which is now perhaps fading away. The retrospective attitude, on the other hand, has a good chance of proving fruitful: what it tends to seek in the literature of the past is a foreshadowing of that which is alive in the modern text, that is, the beginnings of what is now in effect. In short, the former tends to minimize the innovations of today's text; the latter tends to stress the innovations in the text of the past.
Clearly, this does not mean that today's text has a metaphysical role—that of containing a truth which would illuminate its inarticulate beginnings in the text of the past. Rather, today's text has an operative role—that of an instrument with which to analyze the text of the past. And this retrospective analysis is threefold: it detects the way the text works; it explains the way the text works; it specifies the way the text works. In the first two operations, detection and explanation, the resemblances between a highly active process in a recent text and a less intense one in an old text are turned to account. In the third operation, specification, the differences between the two are stressed.
If we subject Proust's Remembrance of Things Past to a retrospective analysis in the light of the recent literary movement that has been named the New Novel, we immediately perceive, in Proust's work, a highly significant process. We are, in fact, witness to the beginnings of a monumental metamorphosis: a famous linguistic operation, metaphor, undergoes a radical change in function. It used to be mainly expressive or representative; with Proust, it becomes productive. Let's see how.
Jean Ricardou is the author of many works of fiction and criticism. His most recent critical works are Nouveau problèmes du roman and the forthcoming Le théâtre des métamorphoses. His previous contributions to Critical Inquiry are "Birth of a Fiction" (Winter 1977) and "Composition Discomposed" (Autumn 1976). Erica Freiberg regularly translates Jean Ricardou's works. She holds degrees in French and Italian, philosophy, and modern literature from the University of Paris (Sorbonne) and the University of Geneva.
For ten years, between 1903 and 1913, Gertrude Stein saw human relationships as painful mathematical puzzles in need of solutions. Again and again, she converted the predicaments of her personal life into literary material, the better to solve and to exorcise them. The revelation that relationships had a structural quality came to her during the composition of Q.E.D. (1903), when she grasped the almost mathematical nature of her characters' emotional impasse. Stein's persona in the novel comments on their triangular affair, "Why it's like a piece of mathematics. Suddenly it does itself and you begin to see."1 The theory encouraged her to examine such situations as if they were case histories: she continued to study the same piece of mathematics from different angles in Fernhurst (1904), Three Lives (1905-6), and The Making of Americans (1906-11). But whatever the sexual arrangements in these triangles, the powerful generally managed to impose their wills upon the less powerful, and the triangles resolved themselves into oppositional structures, pitting two against one. Gradually, when the couple began to replace the triangle as her structural model, Stein composed numerous verbal portraits of couples and their relationships. In two of these, "Ada" and "Two Women," Stein applied her general theory of relationships to the particular puzzle of female friendships because, I think, she felt that women's characters were most intensely molded in same-sex involvements. Although she attempted to "prove" these theories in distanced, deliberately depersonalized prose, we as readers must examine "the complex interplay of self-discovery and writing" from which her portraits emerged.2
Stein's portraits of women entangled in familial and erotic bonds seem to invite us into "the process whereby the self creates itself in the experience of creating art"; to read them, we must "join the narrator in reconstructing the other woman by whom we know ourselves."3 This task of reconstruction implies that we must also rethink the place of biography—generally dismissed by New Criticism and its subsequent post-structuralist permutations as "mere" biography—in feminist critical projects. If it is true that "in reading as in writing, it is ourselves that we remake," then feminist critics have a special stake in understanding the biographical, and autobiographical, impulses at work in these activities.4 Stein's portraits, which hover between fiction and biography, raise important questions about the ways in which biographical information can justify our suspicion that female writers may be "closer to their fictional creations than male writers are."5 Recently, feminist critics have adapted psychoanalytic theory to examine the particular closeness of female characters in women's writing or to suggest a related closeness between the female author and her characters. We find it useful to speak of the pre-Oedipal structures and permeable ego boundaries that seem to shape women's relationships. Although Stein used very different psychological paradigms, she approached these same issues in her own studies of female friendships. Realizing that she preferred to write about women, she observed, "It is clearer…I know it better, a little, not very much better."6 In spite of her qualifications, she knew that she could see the structuring principles of relationships with greater clarity when writing from her own perspective.
1. Stein, "Fernhurst," "Q.E.D.," and Other Early Writings, ed. Leon Katz (New York, 1971), p. 67.
2. Elizabeth Abel, "Reply to Gardiner," Signs 6 (Spring 1981): 444. For a very useful critical discussion of this complex issue, see Abel, "(E)Merging Identities: The Dynamics of Female Friendship in Contemporary Fiction by Women," and Judith Kegan Gardiner, "The (US)es of (I)dentity: a Response to Abel on '(E)Merging Identities,'" in the same issue of Signs (pp. 413-35, 436-42).
3. Gardiner, "The (US)es of (I)dentity," p. 442.
4. Jonathan Morse, "Memory, Desire, and the Need for Biography: The Case of Emily Dickinson," The Georgia Review 35 (Summer 1981): 271. See also J. Gerald Kennedy's suggestive remarks on the "tension between personal confession and implacable theory" in Barthes' later work ("Roland Barthes, Autobiography, and the End of Writing," in the same issue of The Georgia Review, p. 381).
5. Abel, "Reply to Gardiner," p. 444.
6. Stein, The Making of Americans, cited in Richard Bridgeman, Gertrude Stein in Pieces (New York, 1970), p. 78.
Carolyn Burke, an Affiliated Scholar at the Center for Research on Women, Stanford University, has published articles on French feminist writing and on Mina Loy, whose biography she is now completing. The theoretical implications of this essay will be explored in her related study in progress on feminist biography.
The composer of vocal music writes as poet and scholiast. His message is autonomous but not wholly his own. He sets to work with a preexistent artwork before him—a poem or passage of prose, often written without thought of musical setting—and fashions his song under its constraints. He welcomes to his work a second, distinct language, one which corresponds to his own at most only partially in syntax and significance.
The composer's unique act of accommodation, structuring his setting after certain requisites of his text, may have far-reaching implications for his musical style—implications too often ignored in today's musical analysis and criticism. Which particular textual characteristics the composer chooses to emphasize will depend on much beyond the text itself: on his view of the nature and capabilities of musical discourse, shaped internally by musical procedures developed from the canon of his predecessors, externally by general expectations and aspirations of his culture; and on his equally rich conception of the tradition behind his text. The text-music interface is therefore a provocative area of exploration for critic and historian alike. It points to the expressive aims of a composer in a given work, and it elucidates broader cultural assumptions concerning the nature of musical and poetic discourse.
Gary Tomlinson, assistant professor of music history at the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of articles on Monteverdi, early opera, and Verdi. He is currently writing a book on Monteverdi and late-Renaissance culture.
Historically, the productive aspect of the aesthetic experience can be described as a process during which aesthetic practice freed itself step by step from restrictions imposed on productive activity in both the classical and the biblical tradition. If one understands this process as the realization of the idea of creative man, it is principally art which actualizes this idea.1 First, when the poietic capacity is still one and undivided, it asserts itself subliminally; later, in the competition between technical and artistic creation, it explicitly claims to be a production of a special kind. It is in that history of the concepts labor and work that the restrictions become most palpable.2 In the Greek tradition, all producing (poiesis) remains subordinate to practical action (praxis). As the activity of slaves who are rigorously excluded from the exercise of the virtues, poiesis occupies the lowest rank in social life. In the Christian tradition, handiwork is cursed, which means that man is meant to maintain himself only by toiling against a resistant nature ("cursed is the ground for thy sake" [Gen. 3:17]); salvation can only be found beyond his activity in this world. But in both the classical and the Christian conceptual fields relating to labor, we already encounter ambivalent definitions which could introduce and justify an upward revaluation of man's labor.
1. See Hans Blumenberg, "'Nachahmung der Natur': Zur Vorgeschichte des schöpferischen Menschen," Studium Generale 10 (1957): 266-83, still unexcelled. I also base my discussion on Jürgen Mittelstrass, Neuzeit und Aufklärung; Studien zur Entstehung der neuzeitlichen Wissenchaft und Philosophie (Berlin, 1970), and to the results of two seminars at Constance held jointly and to which I owe essential insights.
2. See Werner Conze, "Arbeit," in Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Historiches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, ed. Conze, Otto Brunner, and Reinhart Koselleck, 4 vols. (Stuttgart, 1972), 1:154-215, and Walther Bienert, Die Arbeit nach der Lehre der Bibel (Stuttgart, 1954); an abbreviated version appears in Bienert's "Arbeit," Die Religion in Gescheichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen, 1957).
Hans Robert Jauss is professor of literary criticism and Romance philology at the University of Constance. He is the author of many books and articles, including two works forthcoming in English, Toward an Aesthetic of Reception and Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics, from which the present essay is taken. Michael Shaw has translated many works, among them Max Horkheimer's Dawn and Decline.