Roland Bernecker
Die "idéologie" in Italien. Eine kommentierte Bibliographie zur Sprachtheorie der Spätaufklärung.

Münster: Nodus Publikationen, 1997. [Studium Sprachwissenschaft 13]. 245 pp. ISBN 3-89323-013-0, ISSN 0721-7129.

This book resulted from a large research project, directed by Brigitte Schlieben Lange at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt/Main (1989-94), on the impact of the French 'ideologists' (idéologues) on theories of language and signs in Germany, Italy and Spain. It must be seen in the context of related publications, especially Bernecker's own study Die Rezeption der "idéologie" in Italien. Sprachtheoretische und literarische Ästhetik in der europäischen Spätaufklärung (Münster: Nodus 1996) and the four volume collection of articles on discussion of language in the Europe of 1800 (Europäische Sprachwissenschaft um 1800. Methodologische und historiographische Beiträge zum Umkreis der 'idéologie'. ed. by Brigittte Schlieben-Lange et al., Münster:Nodus 1989 etc).

The bibliography is divided into four parts: independent publications (304 items), articles and other dependent publications (119 items), reviews (223 items) and selected translations (32 items). It is followed by two Appendices, one about Bernardino Biondelli, who marks the transition from 'ideology' to historical linguistics, and another which gives an idea of the state of philosophical grammar in Italy by reproducing the items on this topic for the years 1835 and 1836 which are mentioned in the Bibliography of Giacomo Stella. The book has an Index nominum which is very useful for consultation.

Bernecker's book is a commented bibliography which adds information on the extremely complex movement called 'ideology' (idéologie, ideologia) which seems to conclude eighteenth century linguistic theories in European countries. Its first institutional centre was the Paris Société d'Auteuil and then the class of the Institut National which invited discussion of the influence of signs on the development of ideas and the sciences. The social and institutional complexity of the group grows if we add to the former nucleus of the 'ideologists' all the persons who were teachers in the normal schools created in France after the Revolution, those who wrote manuals for teaching grammar and logic, those who submitted essays to contests of the Institut National or who wrote on typical 'ideological' subjects, such as the education of the deaf, universal writing systems (pasigraphie), or the observation of exotic peoples and languages. The 'ideological' research programme and the social and institutional foundations of what we can call 'ideologists' become even more complex and heterogeneous if we regard the impact of 'ideology' abroad. We have to take into account indigenous theories and movements which lead to the same results in the domain of linguistic theory and semiotics. On the other hand, it was certainly narrow-minded to limit ideology in the past to France, and it is one of the merits of the above-mentioned project to have changed this picture. This book takes up the problem for Italy, where the impact of ideology was more evident and longer lasting than in other countries. In the context of the Italian Questione della lingua 'ideological' problems, such as the nature of a language of sciences, empiricist methodology, the epistemological evaluation of sign systems and the significance of a specific genio delle lingue acquired particular relevance.

'Ideology' is classified as a late enlightenment research programme, arrived at by a group of French philosophers, physicians, ethnologists, psychologists, historians etc. who were influential in the educational system from the ruin of Robespierre until the crowning of Napoleon. Language and sign theory was a central part of their project of a general human science, based on analysis of ideas and empirical observation. While the ideologists lost their influence in France under Napoleon, and were mostly rejected in Germany, they attained much more significance in nineteenth-century Spain and Italy and were even used by national movements in these countries. But their research programme obviously changed under these conditions. This makes it difficult to decide who can still be regarded as an 'ideologist'. This is the case of some authors represented in the bibliography who certainly never followed the 'ideological' paradigm or even came in closer contact with 'ideological' writings, for example Carlo Denina who was writing on philological and cultural subjects in the general framework of the eighteenth century. On the other hand, Francesco Soave is certainly one of the Italian 'ideologists'. However, his work on Kant could be understood as separate from this paradigm and should not appear in this context without any comment.

The items are listed in chronological order in all four parts, beginning with the year 1796 for independent publications (the year the French term idéologie was coined) and going on to the end of the nineteenth century. The limits of the other rubrics are less evident. So, for example, Bernecker includes (p. 127) a poem on the origin of ideas dedicated to Condillac in 1778; this poem shows the high reputation of this philosopher in Italy, but it is surely not influenced by his French disciples who wrote much later. The selection of independent writings is determined by the periodicals exhaustively excerpted: the Biblioteca italiana, the Antologia, and the Politecnico, but also the Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences, Littérature et Beaux-Arts de Turin. It is quite justified from the point of view of a general history of ideas to mention translations of Darwin, Kant and Dugald Stewart in Italy in the first half of the nineteenth century, but their inclusion needs further justification in a selected bibliography on 'ideology'. This problem of authors treating common linguistic or semiotic subjects without being influenced by 'ideology' seems to be much more difficult to resolve than the fear of incompleteness, the latter being less important if a bibliography corresponds to a clearly defined research interest.

The intensive bibliographical research presented in this book has proved that the history of ideas in Italy in the first four decades of the nineteenth century was largely influenced by 'ideology'. But it is not intended as an exhaustive bibliographical compendium in the classical sense. It is selective in following a certain research interest, namely the impact of the ideologists. This makes it possible to read the bibliography as a coherent text, which gives insight into the multifarious but also homogeneous discourse on language, mind and society. The commentaries on the bibliographical items show a distribution by topic in the discussion of linguistic subjects as well as social and institutional demands. In the 1830s, the Enlightenment sensualist epistemology disappears or is even rejected, but the categorial framework of 'ideology' still remains valuable until the acceptance of eclecticism grows and general grammar is replaced by historical comparativism. As Bernecker himself points out in the introduction, the commentaries are very different in length and contents and are not always in relation to the theoretical impact of the works described in them. Together with Bernecker's book on the impact of 'ideology' in Italy, this bibliography is a remarkable contribution to the history of linguistic ideas as well as a stimulating bibliographical source for future research on the transition from the 'ideological' shape of the Questione della lingua to historical comparative linguistics in Italy.

Gerda Haßler, Potsdam