Devin Garofalo Responds

Exploring how harmonic analogy precedes formalization and, in some cases, is pre-empted or overwritten by formal analogy, Mary L. Mullen shows how The Age of Analogy engages pressing questions about form: Are forms rigid and inflexible? Are they inevitably agents of containment and control? What do we call patterns that are transitory? That precede formalization—or escape it altogether? Are they forms, or something else? On the surface, Griffiths’ terminology—the juxtaposition of formal and harmonic analogy—might suggest that “dynamic and uncertain” patterns which are not “firmly established” as models for comparison are not forms at all (36). And yet, Griffiths argues throughout that analogy is “a form of entangled reference” that “writ[es] itself in and out of stable forms” (228). Here, volatility not only characterizes the interactions between forms—as Caroline Levine has argued—but is a property of form itself.[1] The Age of Analogy shows how forms are not necessarily stable, enduring or fully realized models of configuration. Some are deeply unstable, their contours and logics of relation capable of dynamic adjustments. For me, such entangled and shifting forms of relationality call to mind Donna Haraway’s recent attention to string figures, which typify a “passing on and receiving, making and unmaking…practice and process”—a “becoming-with” that makes possible new ways of understanding the world.[2] Griffiths shows us how this more dynamic understanding of form has a long and distinctly nineteenth-century itinerary. Admittedly, this leaves unresolved the questions Mullen raises about how analogy might obscure difference or extend colonial power. Nevertheless, The Age of Analogy indicates new avenues for inquiry into how nineteenth-century literary form and figurative thinking “radically reshape apprehension of the world from the ground up” (Griffiths 228).

[1] Caroline Levine, Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (Princeton University Press, 2015).

[2] Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucene (Duke University Press, 2016).

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