1996 0-7734-8792-1 This study moves against the grain of both traditional allegories and contemporary critical theory. The first section proposes hypotheses about existing theoretical work in the field. It shows how Pali Buddhist texts context 'metaphysics' many centuries before Nietzsche and Derrida, providing a distinct outlook on the problem of figurative language. The second section examines four texts, ranging from Plato to Dante, to indicate the difficult assumptions of 'life-giving' allegory. The third section deals with texts from Spenser onward that illustrate ghost-effects in the displacement of medieval allegory. The various chapters examine differing yet related inflections: economics in Plato, theatricality in the Buddha's texts, failing communication in Augustine, 'unreading' in the Roman de la Rose, marginality in Dante, doubtful signatures in Spenser, decapitation in Hawthorne, blindness in Baudelaire. The study is culturally far-reaching, and takes issue with the relatively truncated theories of allegory in our time. By scrutinizing other texts than the usual, it discloses new possibilities for investigation.