Winter 1991 • Vol. XIII No. 1 Book ReviewsJanuary 1, 1991 |

Creation and the Courtesy of Reading

Real Presences by George Steiner. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. 236 pages. $19.95. Debates about deconstruction have been raging in the academy for nearly two decades. Though academic literary criticism has now taken a decisive turn towards historicism and cultural studies, which work from vastly different assumptions than those of a Derrida or a De Man, the legacy of deconstruction remains potent. Nor, according to George Steiner, has its "summons to nihilism" ever been adequately answered. Those who were not persuaded by its claims defended their positions with ever shriller appeals to common sense, fantasizing that this fashion, like all other theoretical fashions, would also pass. Real Presences takes deadly aim at deconstruction, but it also takes it in deadly earnest, refusing to pass it off as a fashion or to refute it on pragmatic or even on logical grounds. For "on its own terms and planes of argument," Steiner says, "the challenge of deconstruction does

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Ronald A. Sharp is Professor Emeritus of English at Vassar College, where he was also Dean of the Faculty from 2003 to 2008. Before coming to Vassar he was John Crowe Ransom Professor of English at Kenyon College, where he also served as Provost, Acting President, and Editor of the Kenyon Review. His six books focus on poetry, Romanticism, Keats, and friendship.

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Keats and Friendship

By Ronald A. Sharp

Real Presences by George Steiner. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. 236 pages. $19.95. Debates about deconstruction have been raging in the academy for nearly two decades. Though academic literary […]

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