Quality Distinctions

Edmund Leach

  • The Architecture of Experience: A Discussion of the Role of Language and Literature in the Construction of the World by G.D. Martin
    Edinburgh, 201 pp, £12.00, February 1981, ISBN 0 333 23560 6

Just why the publication of this expensive book should have merited a subsidy from the Scottish Arts Council is not obvious. Much of the text has the disjointed irrelevance of the Walrus talking about why the sea is boiling hot or whether pigs have wings, though, since Martin is a University Lecturer in French, a better parallel might be Bouvard and Pécuchet, Flaubert’s satire on the indiscriminate accumulation of half-digested knowledge. The blurb endorses such comment: ‘Graham Martin trespasses widely into linguistics, psychology, sociology and philosophy – areas where he has (as a teacher of literature) no permit to go and poach on other scholar’s game.’ But it is not only his professional competence that is in doubt: it is his intention.

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