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This review is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

ACTION Denis Donoghue, The Sovereign Ghost: Studies in Imagination (Faber) £6.75.

The Sovereign Ghost continues rather than concludes the exploration of the poetic imagination begun in The Ordinary Universe and Thieves of Fire. It is to contemporary aesthetic problems that Donoghue now addresses himself, and these he explores in seven essays, some of which are drawn from recent lectures and published articles. The issues Donoghue discusses are topical and urgent, as the positivist trend, which would jettison the concept of the imagination, seems to be gaining momentum, this time in the form of Structuralism. Aesthetics is his theme, but one senses that it is subservient to, or an expression of, a profound moral commitment and concern. Aesthetics is merely an extension of ethics, for Donoghue. As he observes, "to see in the right spirit is to live well." Hence it is less the Structuralists' programme that he is interested in, than its moral implications. The Romantic concept of the imagination, to which he subscribes, is vibrant with moral and religious connotations. Structuralism, on the other hand, interprets creativity in terms of codes. It displaces man from the creative centre of experience and assigns subjectivity and consciousness to factors over which the individual has no control. It thus denies man's freedom, and renders the concept of imagination superfluous. Although he opposes Structuralism, Donoghue is never shrill or dismissive. He explores these issues at length, and from a variety of perspectives. He appeals for co-operation between Structuralists and Romantics-"we need to represent the situation in terms which sponsor debate and research rather ...


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