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Structuralism Lite : But not easy.March 6 2001
T. J. Stewart
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This is an excellent introduction into Structuralism and Semiotics. It is more detailed than a Structuralism comic book, but still presents the information in a clear and concise manner. The bibliography and recommended reading list alone are worth the price of the book. The material is arranged chronologically, beginning with Saussure and Levi-Strauss, and concluding with the "New" new criticism. After reading Hawkes, I had a much clearer understanding about the Structuralism/Linguistics connection. Also the section on Barthes was quite enlightening.
An Intermediate Level IntroductionJune 17 2012
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When Terence Hawkes published STRUCTURALISM AND SEMIOTICS, the clock was already beginning to run out on structuralism. Just ten years earlier, Jacques Derrida declared that the neat and orderly world of the structuralists was based on no more than a shared illusion that the structures that lay under our collective feet were unconnected to anything substantive. Still, for those who wish to know the basics of a theory that Derrida and his successors were to trash it is required that they have at least a passing acquaintance with the contributions of Ferdinand de Saussure, Claude Levi-Strauss, the Russian Formalists, Roman Jakobson, Tzvetan Todorov, and Roland Barthes. The prose style of Hawkes is free from the cloying mannerisms of his current and future peers. He presents his version of their often competing and overlapping theories in such a way so as to enhance understanding. I would have appreciated, however, had Hawkes included a few more examples of how one might have transferred the abstractnesses of theory to the reality of literary criticism. The few exegetic paragraphs on the verse of cummings or William Carlos Williams hardly does justice to interpreting texts through the lens of structuralism. Interestingly enough, Hawkes devotes a few paragraphs to Derrida, whose own contributions he deems "interesting." The hatchet job that Derrida had already taken on structuralism does not negate the masterful analysis that Hawkes has done in this book. Finally, if for no other reason than to refute the various flubs and flaws that permeate the Derridean canon, one really ought to have a solid foundation in structuralism and semiotics. And this is what Hawkes has accomplished.