By Margaret Tudeau-Clayton, Martin Warnerd
Frank Kermode's paintings has continually been very important to scholars of English literature. In those essays, top students seriously check Kermode's texts and query his illustration of literary learn, supplying their very own interpretative concepts.
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Additional info for Addressing Frank Kermode: Essays in Criticism and Interpretation
And then there is the Kermode who has discovered, like Locke's philosophical heirs, that an empiricism begun in mirth and gladness all too easily ends first in idealism and then in solipsism; but who like them sees no honest way of repudiating these further steps. In the remainder of this essay I shall do my best to set an obstacle or two in the path of this literary version of the familiar philosophical slide from robust empiricism (where that involves among other things respect for the distinction between asking what 'p' means and asking whether p is true) to blank misgivings about the possibility of egress from the closed world of the self.
Not only are they sufficient in themselves, if they can be made to stick, to demonstrate the futility and delusiveness of the hermeneutics of secrecy; they also add greatly to the force of Kermode's other two types of argument. The thesis of textual solipsism is that all latent, 'spiritual' meaning is the product of interpretation. The project of the hermeneutics of secrecy is thus rendered futile because interpretation per se is futile, its pretended discoveries no more than the gross, alien-seeming shadows cast by its own processes, and by the patterns of institutional expec- 42 Essays in Criticism tation and assumption which motivate and direct those processes, upon the passive and inscrutable surface of words which is all that a text ultimately offers to our excited and self-deluded scrutiny.
In Ovid, conversely, we may glimpse the beginning of consciously false cosmological thinking. There is a marvellous passage in The Sense of an Ending (38) in which Kermode describes the Third Reich as having a cosmology which it always knew, in a manner, to be false: the most disquieting example extant of what philosophers call 'making it true'. Ovid's phrase, carmen perpetuum, 'perpetual song', similarly combines sophisticated doubleness with nostalgia. The phrase itself is knowingly literary almost an arrogant joke, for it echoes the aeisma dienekes of Callimachus (1949-53: I, fr.
Addressing Frank Kermode: Essays in Criticism and Interpretation by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton, Martin Warnerd