"Tropics of Discourse" develops White's ideas on interpretation in history, on the relationship between history and the novel, and on history and historicism. Vico, Croce, Derrida, and Foucault are among the figures he assesses in this work, which also offers original interpretations of a number of literary themes, including the Wild Man and the Noble Savage. White's commentary ranges from a reappraisal of Enlightenment history to a reflective summary of the current state of literary criticism.
Like most of White's work, the book arises from a boldly imaginative transaction between the philosophy of history, literary criticism and semiotics. * Notes and Queries * No other historian appears to be at the frontier of so many developments or so skillful at integrating them into traditional American scholarship in the history of ideas. In this White seems a successor to A. O. Lovejoy and Ernst Cassirer. * Journal of Modern History *