The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 15, No. 1 Spring 1988
BARBARA D. MERINO, EDITOR North Texas State University
REFLECTIONS OF A RENAISSANCE SCHOLAR: Carl De-vine's Essays in Accounting Theory, Volumes I-V, (AAA, mem-bers - $8.00 each or $40.00 paperback set; nonmembers - $12.00 each or $60.00 paperback set)
Reviewed by Edward Arrington University of Iowa
For most of us, certain texts stand not as documents from which one learns; but, rather, like friends and family, as sources from which self concepts are formed. Along with a few novels and works in philosophy, Carl Devine's Essays in Ac-counting Theory, which span five decades of his work, occupy that status for me. This critique of his work is thus deliberately self-reflective. It can't be otherwise. This both complicates and enriches this review.
As a twenty-two year old student of literature, I had the idea that accounting might best be viewed as a literary dis-course, with all the trappings of constructing human experi-ence in meaningful ways that we typically attribute to great narratives. Unbeknownst to me, Carl Devine was one of the few persons in accounting who might be enthusiastically open to such a view. I was fortunate to find him. Since then, countless hours of dialogue have ensued; and, without that experience, my romance with accounting would have been short lived. Like the man himself, the texts of Devine's essays stand as a monu-ment of reflection on the expansiveness of visions of account-ing, and they are to be read as precisely that — an attempt to keep options open, to proliferate rather than to close discourse.
Devine's work is massive in two ways. Name any issue in accounting or in twentieth century intellectual history; it's in the text. Devine is a bookworm, a Renaissance scholar. But he is not ascetic. Knowledge, for him, must be cast into the experience of humans. His task and his joy is to take the most difficult intellectual issues and mix them with the soil of