Summer 1986 • Vol. VIII No. 3 Book ReviewsJuly 1, 1986 |

A Figurative Quest

The Linguistic Moment: From Wordsworth to Stevens by J. Hillis Miller. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. xxi + 445 pages. $38.00. In this deeply intelligent work, Miller takes up eight British and American poets: Wordsworth, Shelley, Browning, Hopkins, Hardy, Yeats, Williams, and Stevens. As the title proposes, his interest is in what he calls the linguistic moment, "moments of suspension within the texts of poems, not usually at their beginnings or ends, moments when they reflect or comment on their own medium" (p. xiv). To my mind, Miller's enterprise is grounded chiefly on the work of Foucault, Derrida, and de Man, in Foucault's assumption, cited by Miller, that there "is nothing absolutely primary to interpret, because at bottom all is already interpretation, each sign is in itself not the thing which offers itself to interpretation, but the interpretation of other signs" (p. 3). It is equally grounded in Derrida's discussion of Mallarmé's Mimique in "The Double S

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