One of the most intriguing features of the Barthes/Picard quarrel was the eagerness which other critics showed to act as referees. This was just as true of the man principally responsible for it, Jean-François Revel, as it was of Lucien Goldmann, the person whose book constituted the first serious attempt to see Racine in the light of a new ideology. Thus Revel declared in April 1966 that he had sought only to open a debate and was disappointed at the failure of both sides to say whether the application of Marxism, psychoanalysis or structuralism to literary criticism actually worked, while Goldmann predictably declared in his summing-up that Picard was ‘for order and orthodoxy, whether they were conservative or Marxist’.1 Charles Mauron added a postscript to his latest book, Le dernier Baudelaire, to explain why he found both Picard and Serge Doubrovsky in error for systematically rejecting the importance of the role played by the unconscious in literary creation. At the same time, he showed his understanding of what matters in philosophical argument by writing that ‘except for mathematics and theoretical physics, the only criterion for truth is experimental evidence’.2 Goldmann also accused Sur Racine of too frequently substituting ‘personal problems and perspectives for the objective and literal meaning of the text in question’,3 and if ever there was a case of the pot calling the kettle black it is this particular judgement.
KeywordsConservative Estimate Literal Meaning Intuitive Knowledge Intellectual Curiosity Literary Creation
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- 1.Goldmann, Sciences humaines et création culturelle, Anthropos, 1970, p. 472. Revel, La Quinzaine littéraire, 15 Apr 1966.Google Scholar
- 33.Helen Gardner, The Business of Criticism, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1959, p. 17.Google Scholar
- John Cruickshank, British Journal of Aesthetics, Apr 1964, pp. 155-60, esp. p. 159.Google Scholar