Winter 1986 • Vol. VIII No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 1986 |

Adam Naming the Animals: Language, Contexts, and Meaning

For some time now I have felt a curious discomfort in reading fashionable contemporary criticism, especially the deconstructionist variety in its uneasy alliances with Marxist, Neo-Freudian, Feminist, and Bloomian approaches, but only recently have I recognized the true source of that discomfort: acute claustrophobia. For all the talk of interminable deferment, open texts, and infinite decentering, most "revisionist" criticism seems too barricaded behind a specialized argot, too dependent on the axioms of particular philosophies, ideologies, or faiths, too circumscribed in method, too reductive in result, and too bound to the present decade. We require a larger, broader perspective to see what the stakes are, what larger patterns there may be, and what alternatives may be available. Fortunately, if one steps back far enough to see how language is now understood in a variety of disciplines related to literary criticism, an alternative does in fact emerge, one that validates the possi

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