Starting from the position of ``linguistic skepticism,'' the view that language and the concept of truth are inadequate to the task of describing reality or containing experience, Poirer sees the pragmatism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James as both anticipating and transcending post-structuralism. Suggesting that Emerson should be taken seriously as a philosopher and theorist, he argues that his theory of language points to a renewal of culture by opening the possibility of the future against the strictures of the past and the present. Poirer explores how Emersonian pragmatism informs the literary practice of Robert Frost, Gertrude Stein, and Wallace Stevens. An important book for both critics and philosophers.--T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.