Winter 1955 • Vol. XVII No. 1 Book Reviews |

The Newer Criticism: Prisoner of Logical Positivism?

The Burning Fountain: A Study In The Language Of Symbolism by Philip Wheelwright. Indiana University Press. $6.00. Despite the modest claim of its subtitle, the book pretty well epitomizes the major concepts, preoccupations, and procedures of the Newer Criticism of the 1950's. Its starting point is the antithesis between literal or "steno-language"—the language of science—and expressive or "depth language"—the language common to poetry, myth, religion, and metaphysics. Expressive language is opposed to that of science, not in lacking cognitive reference, but in possessing such "trans-logical" attributes as plurisignation (Wheelwright's useful substitute for Empson's "ambiguity"), a variability of meaning according to the context, the possibility of fusing universal and particular in a single concrete universal, freedom to transgress the law of contradiction by the use of "the paradox of depth," and a cognitive and assertive mode (hence, a special truth-value) transcending

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By M. H. Abrams

The Burning Fountain: A Study In The Language Of Symbolism by Philip Wheelwright. Indiana University Press. $6.00. Despite the modest claim of its subtitle, the book pretty well epitomizes the […]

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