breathtaking. There is even a surprising,nperhaps significant element of militarynmetaphor: combative, powerful,nforceful, penetrating, attacking onnevery front. One book, all by itself, isnfull, rigorous, perceptive, subtle, faithful,neducational, path-breaking, andnoriginal — all in three sentences. This,nthough, is a book about Derrida, andnthe reader is Derrida, so we shouldnprobably make some allowances fornuncritical enthusiasm, even for egotismnand coxcombry.nIn fact we should probably allow fornuncritical enthusiasm and a measure ofnegotism and coxcombry all round.nEven so, making every allowance, andnwondering in the process what hasnhappened to criticism, the thought isnbound to occur that something isngoing on here. These lists are thenmerest whisker, scale, or claw of anmonster that is thriving in the protectednenvironment of the universities,nthemselves a leviathan that swallowednup long ago the Jonah of real scholarshipnand teaching. Universities, operatingnas interlocking cartels untouchednby reality in the form of either marketncompetition or informed public regulation,nspend huge sums — more, probably,nthan the GNP of several smallnnations — to patronize this writing.nNor is it just the expense of publishingnthe stuff and buying the results, notneven the leaves, grants, fellowships,nreduced teaching loads, and conferencenexpenses that make up the realncost. Rather it is in the support of anwhole system of language and literaturenteaching that is supposed to bendoing one thing and is doing another.nDoing it very successfully, too.nThese books and the teachings that gonwith them are not a by-product of thensystem. They are the product. Unlikenearlier kinds of criticism, which inngeneral encouraged the reading of literature,nthese books dispose of literaturenin favor of politics, psychology,nsociology, and anthropology. One resultnis that the more literature (in namenat least) is taught, the less people readnit. No one can blame the student who,nafter encountering this kind of approachnin an English class, decidesnnever to open a work of imaginativenliterature again. Another result, apparentnto teachers who still want to teachnliterature, is that the works themselves,nespecially the older ones, drop out ofnprint for students. As a form of censorship,nthis is more effective in the longnrun than more vociferous kinds thatnget into the newspapers. Johns Hopkinsnand Cornell are touting a hundrednhighly subsidized books for academics,nmost of them unreadable and surelynnot-much-to-be-read, but the Anatomynof Melancholy is now out of printnfor general readers and students, probablynfor the first time since it wasnwritten. The immense amount ofn”scholarly activity” going on in fieldsnlike Renaissance studies gives a falsenimpression. Whatever these people arendoing, they are not teaching muchnliterature to undergraduates. They aren”emptying out,” to use a term innvogue with “new historicists,” the undergraduates’ninheritance.n—Frank W. BrownlownYale Scholar’s articles found innNazi paper, read the headline in thenNew York Times for December 1,n1987. Paul de Man was a prolificnmember of the Yale HermeneuticalnMafia, which made the term “deconstructionism”nan academic byword. Bynthe time he passed away in Decembern1984, he was Sterling Professor ofnHumanities at Yale. Now a youngnBelgian scholar, Ortwin de Graef hasnunearthed hundreds of articles de Manncontributed during World War II tonthe Nazi paper Le Soir, including anpiece in a special edition of Le Soirndevoted to the Jewish Question. DenMan’s uncle had been a minister in thenNazi puppet government of Belgiumnduring the period he had been writingnthese pieces, 1941-42. They are slatednto be published in the Oxford LiterarynReview next year with comments fromnsome 50 writers.n”The articles appear to go to thenheart of the ethical debate still ragingnover Dr. de Man’s work at Yale,”npontificated the Times. R.W.B. Lewisnof Yale thought deconstructionism removednthe ethical aspect from literature.nThe Times tried and failed to give anone-sentence definition of deconstructionism,nand we shall not attemptnone here. Its quarrel with traditionalnliterary interpretation goes back manyncenturies, to the disagreements ofnPlato and Isocrates in the fourth century,nB.C., as the master Jacques Derridannnknew. Traditional literary studies arenlogocentric. In them the word, especiallynas found in great masterpieces,nreveals an author, a subject, and anvision of reality. So we read to meetnThucydides, Pericles, and a vision ofnwar or St. John, Jesus, and a beatificnvision or Camus, Meursault, and Existentialism.nFor the deconstructionist,nwhat matters in literature is the interactionnand interrelationship of the wordsnon the page. There are no “GreatnBooks” and the idea of an author andnhis intention, of an objective metaphysicalnsystem. That words can revealnanother person or reality is part of thenPlatonic and Christian conspiracy, annightmare from which we are beginningnto awaken. The author is notna creative hero, the interpreter isnnot a brilliant discoverer. As DenisnDonogue phrased it, “the enemy is thenbourgeois state … its language is anprogram for making unolEcial languagenimpossible.”nThe issue is not the abolition of thenethical from literature, as the New YorknTimes and Professor Lewis pretend. Itnis the relation of current literary currentsnto the Nazi Big Lie. For thenadvocates of the Big Lie in politics andnliterature do not favor the false per se.nThey do insist that the person with thenproper theory is preferable, more sophisticatednthan a simpleminded 19thcenturynobsession with facts. “AllesnFaktisches ist nur Theorie,” Goethenonce observed. Some of us think thatnfact and theory live in a mutual relationshipnof control and discovery. Theorynopens up new areas to interest andninvestigation, but facts check, modify,nand perhaps even refute theory.nThe theoreticians of literature andnpolitics, Nazis and Marxists, feministsnand deconstructionists have learnednthat we are all limited by biases andnpresuppositions. They therefore concludenthat there are no objectivenchecks or controls on the play of thenimagination. I do not exaggerate. Inattended a day-long conference onnDerek Freeman’s discussion of the inadequaciesnof Margaret Mead’s dissertation.nIt was considered sufficient refutationnthat he was a man and annAustralian attacking an Americannwoman. Evidence of disastrous ignorancenof Greek in feminist scholarshipnin classics is met with the reply that thenwork is theory and the reviewer a mannAPRIL 19881 5n