Review by Choice Review
White (Stanford Univ.) is perhaps best known for bringing the insights of literary theory to historiography. This collection gathers 23 essays White wrote over a 50-year period and thus allows readers to situate White more precisely in relation to the so-called linguistic turn in the humanities. The collection begins with a discussion of the profession of history and concludes by examining the relation of "figural realism" (White's term) to the interpretation of historical events. Although White engages Levi-Strauss, Barthes, and Foucault, his primary intellectual touchstones are philosopher Giambattista Vico and literary scholars Erich Auerbach and Northrop Frye, an idiosyncratic grouping that speaks to both White's interest in structure (if not quite structuralism) and his belief in humanism. The volume is scrupulously edited and organized; in an extraordinarily lucid and useful introduction, Doran (Univ. of Rochester) shows how White steers a middle ground between objectivist historicism (no interpretation, only facts) and Nietzschean perspectivism (no facts, only interpretations). This valuable collection bears out Doran's contention that, for White, "history and theory are not antithetical but mutually implicit." The book will interest scholars from an array of disciplines, especially those seeking a theoretical but unorthodox definition of what practicing the humanities means. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. D. Stuber Hendrix College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.