Rhetoric, Literature, and Interpretation
Critics are often divided over the opposition between rhetoric and interpretation. The essays in this volume of Bucknell Review defend and illuminate the role of critic and offer fresh, often controversial analyses of the texts and the theories that oppose rhetoric to interpretation. Three groups of essays explore the rhetoric-interpretation dichotomy - and present the problems inherent in and suggest new directions for rhetorical and interpretive approaches to literature. In the group on Interpretation and Literature, Burton Hatlen's reading of Paradise Lost and Frankenstein departs from traditional analysis of the dominant creator as patriarch by positing a creator as nonmale. Hatlen recovers the "revolutionary content" of both works and clearly shows Milton's and Mary Shelley's commitment to human liberation. Algis Mickunas finds that transformations of the hermeneutical understand result from internal evaluation rather than external effect. But he also shows that the hermeneutical understanding that developed in response to current crises in the humanities and the sciences has been able to take into account issues resulting from international ideological crises. Offering an alternative to traditional Freudian analysis, Marylin B. Arthur suggests that the familiar Narcissus-Echo motif may not be applicable to such female writers as H. D. Arthur shows that in "Red Roses for Bronze," H. D. has transposes sex roles - the female is active creator, the male passive and created. Concluding the first group of essays, David Willbern's discussion of hypocriticism takes into account the whole range of critics' activities, including close-reading techniques, personal memories, and verbal association. Willbern applies his method to Robert Duncan's "My Mother Would Be a Falconress" and shows that the hypocritical reading mirrors the literary text under examination and involves author and critic in a relation of both rivalry and reciprocity. In the second group, on Rhetoric and Literature, both authors argue from a rhetorical perspective. After a discussion of some limitation of the New Formalism, Daniel Stmepel goes beyond such critics as Shell and Heintzelman in his reading of Wordsworth's "Michael: A Pastoral Poem." Similarly, Robert Wess examines Althusser's impact on recent changes in understanding of Marxist theory. Finally, the essays by Daniel O'Hara and Michael Hancher show how rhetorical and interpretive approaches may interact in harmony or in conflict. In his analysis of Women in Love, O'Hara shows that Lawrence anticipated Foucault's analysis of sexuality as a complex of pleasure, knowledge, and power. O'Hara argues that both creating and evading the discourse of sexuality, Lawrence leaves himself as a true "nothing," a randomness as powerful as death. Hancher explores the madness in Through the Looking-Glass in an interpretive approach to the pragmatics of Carroll's conversations. Hancher's rhetorical insistence on the study of the linguistic text through formal structures also sheds light on the meaning of tone. He conveys a sense of the real-life situations embedded in the text, which in turn illuminates the author's intentions and strategies.
Contributors: James M. Heath, Burton Hatlen, Algis Mickunas, Marylin B. Arthur, David Willbern, Daniel Stempel, Robert Wess, Daniel O'Hara, and Michael Hancher.
About the editor:
Harry R. Garvin was John P. Crozer Professor of English at Bucknell University.
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