Critical Notices/Études critiques

Making Believe*

Jerrold Levinsona1

a1 University of Maryland

Kendall Walton's Mimesis as Make-Believe is the most significant event in Anglo-American aesthetics in many a year, and joins a small pantheon of landmark books such as Nelson Goodman's Languages of Art, Richard Wollheim's Art and Its Objects and Arthur Danto's Transfiguration of the Commonplace. Walton's aim is to provide a comprehensive account of the representational arts—literature, drama, cinema, painting, drawing, sculpture—from both the generative and the receptive points of view. That is to say, he attempts to explain how representations are fashioned, what their representational status consists in, how representations are apprehended and what the experience of them characteristically involves. Inthese aims he is to my mind enormously, if not completely, successful.


* Kendall Walton, Mimesis as Make-Believe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), xiv + 450 pp., $35.00. For the information of readers, I dwould like to draw attention to other recent notices of Walton's book: first, a symposium in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 51, 2 (1991), with contributions by Noel Carroll, Patrick Maynard, George Wilson, Richard Wollheim and Nicholas Wolterstorff; second, an essay review in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 49, 2 (1991), by Peter Lamarque; and, third, Gregory Currie's The Nature of Fiction (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1990), published shortly after Walton's book, which manages to contain some critical discussion of the latter.