Posts in category "Vol. 07 No. 2"

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E. J. Clery, Women’s Gothic: From Clara Reeve to Mary Shelley

E. J. Clery, Women's Gothic: From Clara Reeve to Mary Shelley. Devon, U.K.: Northcote House, 2000 viii + 168 pp.  $21.00 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-7463-0872-8).

Reviewed by
Harriet Kramer Linkin
New Mexico State University, Las Cruces

The explosion of interest in Gothic literature during the past twenty-five years has resulted in a tremendous group of books, especially among scholars working on women's Gothic literature or the female Gothic (notably Bette Roberts's 1980 The Gothic Romance, Julian Fleenor's 1983 collection The Female Gothic, Kate Ferguson Ellis's 1989 The Contested Castle, Eugenia DeLamotte's 1990 Perils of the Night, Michelle Massé's 1992 In the Name of Love, Terry Castle's 1995 The Female Thermometer, Anne Williams's 1995 Art of Darkness, and Diane Hoeveler's 1998 Gothic Feminism). Emma Clery's Women's Gothic makes a rich contribution to the field that is both distinctive and innovative in looking exclusively at women's Gothic literature to argue against the simplicity of a separatist tradition that differentiates the male Gothic from the female Gothic. Rather than read women's Gothic works as "parables of patriarchy involving the heroine's danger from wicked father figures, and her search for the absent mother," the classic approach that positions the "'Female Gothic'" within the "notion of a distinctive women's tradition" (as Ellen Moers usefully defined "Female Gothic" in her 1977 opus Literary Women), Clery productively turns the issue of valuation upside down to ask "what happens if we lay aside our assumptions about women's writing and look again at women's Gothic? What we find there suggests the need for another story: wild passions, the sublime, supernatural phenomena, violent conflict, murder and torture, sexual excess and perversion, outlandish settings, strange minglings of history and fantasy" (2). That is the story Clery seeks to tell in Women's Gothic as she offers lucid, concise, and finely researched overviews of the works of Clara Reeve, Sophia Lee, Ann Radcliffe, Joanna Baillie, Charlotte Dacre, and Mary Shelley for Isobel Armstrong's "Writers and Their Work" series (which currently includes over one hundred brief studies of authors and literary movements).

For Clery, "Gothic literature sees women writers at their most pushy and argumentative" as they turn to a new field of literary endeavor with "excitement, audacity and opportunism," and she wonders "what gave women the confidence to experiment, attempt large effects, fly in the face of critical opinion, openly rival and emulate the achievements of their male peers?" (11). For the what she turns to a who, following Ann Radcliffe's lead in "On the Supernatural in Poetry" (written in 1802, published in 1826) to focus on the figure of the great tragic actress Sarah Siddons, whose most famous role as Lady Macbeth enacted a figure of possibility to women writers because she presented Lady Macbeth "as a woman of imagination as well as passion" (11). Siddons invoked infernal spirits to possess her body just as poets asked to be "possessed by divine spirits" (12) when she proclaimed Lady MacBeth's infamous lines: "Come you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here" (Macbeth 1.5.39-40). Thus in Clery's formulation "a link was made between objects of fear or terror--natural and supernatural--and high literary ambition" (12). Furthermore, Siddons broke through the culturally problematized expression of passion in women by combining her ability to play the passions with her interest in money: in other words, she could safely represent the passions--even frenzy and madness--because audiences were safe in their knowledge of her ruling passion: the love of lucre. As Clery puts it, "the violent and irrational passions she manifested were offset--in the public's eyes--by another, countervailing passion: the love of gain" (19).

Against critical expectations that a woman out to express the passions and make money might be doubly damned, Clery persuasively argues that "Siddons was a test-case for women wishing to traffic in the passions, and earn lots of money in the process. She showed that, in spite of the fact that neither a flair for representing sublime emotion nor sharp business-sense were considered feminine attributes, taken together they could result in a respectable vocation" (21-23). Here she notes as well that some of the initial shock that accompanied reception of Gothic literature by Horace Walpole and Matthew Lewis was the awareness that as men of rank and privilege they did not need to write for money, inviting readers to wonder what other motives underwrote their portrayal of sensational scenes and unbridled lust. The women writers who indicated their pecuniary interest (through appeals to patrons or dedications) were thereby more acceptable through their apparent professionalism (23).

In the four chapters that follow the introduction, Clery packs an impressive amount of analysis into 120 pages of such beautifully written and crisp prose that the clarity of presentation belies the density of information offered in her readings, which explore a cohesive set of concerns: how women writers legitimate their claim to visionary imagination, genius, and the sublime; how they represent the passions; how they seek to arouse the passions of their readers; and how they pursue or present the profit motive. Chapter one looks first at Clara Reeve's The Old English Baron as particularly interesting in considering what provides pleasure to the reader and what Reeve seeks to accomplish as she stirs up affective response from her readers, but always within carefully modulated narrative framings that contain or distance violence so as to mitigate the passions. Clery then contrasts Reeve's "kid gloves" approach to the sublime with the "almost continuously histrionic" register of Sophia Lee's The Recess (37), where the passions cannot be contained by any carefully didactic framework. While it is not quite clear what Clery wants her readers to get from her analysis of The Recess beyond the expressive excess Lee conveys, what the chapter accomplishes in its exploration of these early Gothic works by women writers is to establish two polar approaches to the expression of passion: passion safely contained within a didactic framework or passion unrestrained.

Chapter two on Ann Radcliffe offers compelling attention to Radcliffe's use of epigraphs to situate herself within the then emerging canon of the sublime. In terms of situating Radcliffe within the dynamic of passion contained or unrestrained, Clery likens Radcliffe to Reeve versus Lee through her habitual narrative encrypting of the unleashing of uncontrolled passion within the past: the uncontrolled passions unleashed in a past crime that is righted through reason in the narrative present. Most intriguing in the analysis of Radcliffe is her presentation of the heroine as original genius, thus foregrounding herself as a producer of original genius among all those heroines who so self-reflexively respond to the sublime with lyric poetry (at least in A Sicilian Romance, The Romance of the Forest, and The Mysteries of Udolpho).

Chapter three begins with Joanna Baillie to argue that Baillie inverts "Reeve and Radcliffe's technique of encrypting homicidal passion in the distant past" by refusing to "buffer the tortured scenes she represents," presenting the drama of the passions as mental theater or "the externalized spectacle of inner passions" (89), with attention, here, to De Montfort and Orra. The chapter turns from Baillie to Charlotte Dacre without much explanation, but eventually indicates, in discussion of Zofloya, how Dacre further's Baillie's work on the passions via her decidedly unconventional protagonist Victoria, whose extreme passions, Clery rightly asserts, "are unlike anything else in women's Gothic writing of the period" (110).

In the fourth and final chapter Clery turns to Mary Shelley, and takes a refreshing tack as she invites readers to consider that Shelley not only contends with the legacy of her parents (and the emerging legacies of her companions) but struggles to say something original in the face of a well-developed Gothic tradition. For Clery, Shelley takes Dacre's depiction of Victoria as a moral monster one step further in Frankenstein by representing "a 'real' monster," Victor's creation of a non-human, as the actualization of criminal desire (128), and thus expands the parameters of women's Gothic literature. Similarly, Clery reads Matilda as a Gothic tale which Shelley overtly situates within the Gothic tradition that celebrates women's originality rather than as a psychological curiosity that positions Matilda as a victim of incest: instead the emphasis is on Matilda's "will and control, her conscious management of the situation" (141) and ultimately her authorial control.

Throughout Women's Gothic Clery provides excellent biographical data on each author as well as helpful attention to relevant historical conditions and contemporary theoretical positions. There is a fair amount of plot summary, likely necessitated by the aims of the series and the knowledge that some of these Gothic works by women writers are better known than others (Clery ends the introduction by realistically stating that "the best result of a book of this kind would be to help create a market for early women's writing through 'critical mass,' and keep these enjoyable and historically important texts alive and circulating," 24). One wishes there had been more room to provide a rationale for selecting the authors covered in the study; more opportunity to provide connections between the authors selected or transitions from one author to the next; and a place to present a conclusion after the four chapters focused on the authors. That said, Emma Clery's Women's Gothic provides numerous insights for scholars as well as students, and makes for excellent reading.

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Susan J. Wolfson, ed., Frankenstein: A Longman Cultural Edition; J. Paul Hunter, ed., Frankenstein: The 1818 Text; & Judith Wilt, ed., Making Humans: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau

Susan J. Wolfson, ed., Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein: A Longman Cultural Edition. New York: Longman, 2003. 343 pp.   $16.00 (Pbk; ISBN: 0-321-09698-3).
J. Paul Hunter, ed., Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein: The 1818 Text, Contexts, Nineteenth-Century Responses, Modern Criticism. A Norton Critical Edition.  New York: W. W. Norton: 1996.  336 pp., ISBN 0-393-96458-2, $11.40.
Judith Wilt, ed., Making Humans: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, H. G. Wells,
The Island of Doctor Moreau. New Riverside Editions. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.  360 pp. $10.76 (Pbk; ISBN: 0-618-08489-4).

Reviewed by
Laura Mandell
Miami University

Three excellent new teaching editions of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein have appeared over the last decade. All three make use of the 1818 text rather than the last, much revised 1831 edition for reasons stated most succinctly by Judith Wilt: "Increasingly [editorial] practice favors the 'first' text, true to its cultural and biographical context, rather than a later, authorized text, in which the writer is often at work 'modernizing' the original child of his or her brain" (13). But in the case of Frankenstein, there is slightly more involved in preferring the 1818 to the 1831 text. Wilt summarizes the reception history of various editions (14), and J. Paul Hunter includes in his edition the text that has had the most impact on our current preference for teaching the 1818 text, Anne K. Mellor's "Choosing a Text of Frankenstein to Teach."1  Mellor argues that "the 1818 edition alone presents a stable and coherent conception of the character of Victor Frankenstein and of Mary Shelley's political and moral ideology" (qtd. in Hunter 37). Significantly, though, Mellor means to open up discussions about comparing various editions rather than to definitively foreclose on them, and her article might provide a useful blueprint for introducing literature students to the biases hidden in editorial choices, invisible to those who simply pick up a text and read it as if it were "Mary Shelley's."

All giving us the 1818 edition, each of these new teaching editions nonetheless targets very different student audiences as can be deduced from what they include. Susan Wolfson's Longman Cultural Edition clearly does the best job of recreating for students the cultural context of Frankenstein's production and reception, giving them in-depth access to what Shelley was reading and discussing with friends, the contemporaneous literary productions of her cohort, and what was said publicly about the novel at the moment that its first and second editions appeared. The excerpts from Paradise Lost are most helpful, except that I have myself found it necessary to hand out as a supplement a portion of Satan's soliloquy beginning with the infamous phrase "Myself am Hell." Some of it is included by Wolfson, but not enough. In my mind some crucial lines have been omitted that can reconcile the contradiction between Victor's dying speeches to Walton (do not blindly follow your ambitions, as I did) and to Walton's crew (don't give up in your quest), since the former may be less about diverting Walton from his task of finding a passage to the north pole than about articulating Victor's view of himself as "Supreme / In misery" (Paradise Lost IV.91-92, lines left out of Longman's). But the inclusion of Jemima's story from Wollstonecraft's The Wrongs of Woman is a stroke of pedagogical genius, since reading it will help students see in concrete terms the political import of the monster's "education," occurring as it does less through books than through the first-hand experience of bigoted cruelty. This edition further contains all the contemporaneous reviews that are collected by the Norton critical edition, plus many others including a very significant review by Walter Scott revealing Shelley's influence on him as a novelist. One instance of Wolfson's rigor in creating the culture of reception can be seen in her dating P. B. Shelley's review of the novel according to its date of publication rather than, as the Norton has it, its date of composition, noting that the presence of this review of a novel reissued only a year earlier is part of what made "Shelley's Papers" interesting to Athenaeum readers.

Another type of cultural response to Frankenstein beautifully exhibited in Wolfson's edition that appears in no other teaching edition, as far as I know, is the work of cultural appropriation. Included are excerpts from Richard Brinsley Peake's 1823 Frankenstein, A Romantic Drama, along with a picture of the monster from a placard advertising the play as well as a picture frontispiece of another contemporary's rewriting of the text. Shelley's monster and the Byronic hero (the subject of Byronmania) are clearly important instances of Romantic epiphenomena. Byron and Shelley address an educated audience by producing characters who immediately become cultural phenomena in their own right, quasi-mythical figures who have their own reception history distinct from how they were received in "high" literary criticism.

Hunter's Norton Critical Edition provides a less detailed view of context and early-nineteenth-century reception, including only some texts by those in the Shelley circle and some contemporaneous reviews. The Reception section also contains a chronologically anomalous introduction to a late-nineteenth-century edition of the novel, presumably included to show its de-canonization until the second half of the twentieth century. In contrast to the Longman Cultural Edition in which cultural context of the historical moment is paramount, the Norton Critical Edition includes major works of twentieth-century literary criticism about the novel. Hunter does such a beautiful job in giving us the history of twentieth-century feminist criticism of the novel that it seems a bit cranky to wish that it included excerpts about the novel from David Marshall's The Surprising Effects of Sympathy (though, of course, I nonetheless wish it). By including M. K. Joseph's "The Composition of Frankenstein" and Mellor's essay on editions as part of "The Text" rather than "The Context" of Frankenstein, Hunter suggests that published texts only arbitrarily freeze a moment of textual process, and that exactly when and how one moment becomes labeled "the text" as opposed to another is a community rather than individual affair.

Judith Wilt's New Riverside edition addresses another audience entirely, designed for classes that are particularly interested in the rise of science fiction during the Romantic and Victorian eras. While Wolfson situates Frankenstein in the company of Burke's and Gilpin's two essays on the sublime and picturesque (respectively), Wilt places it next to a generous helping of Erasmus Darwin's poetry about plants. And grandfather cavorts nicely here with grandson as Wilt reprints about 20 pages from Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man. The inclusion of Thomas Henry Huxley's "Evolution and Ethics" as well as an excerpt from current criticism by Coral Lansbury gives us a sense of the urgency felt by nineteenth-century intellectuals in addressing the ethics of science, clearly one impetus for the rise of the genre of science fiction itself. An edition such as Wolfson's, trying to situate Frankenstein firmly in its milieu, and one such as Hunter's trying to reveal its impact on twentieth-century feminist criticism, have obvious reasons for preferring to read the novel as an instance of "Female Gothic" (Longman xvi; see also Ellen Moers, 214-224, in Hunter's edition). But we risk underestimating Mary Shelley's achievement--her proleptic or even prophetic view of future literature--unless we see Frankenstein within the history of generic development. The New Riverside edition marks it once again as inaugurating the modern tradition of science fiction. The texts selected by Wilt as comprising Frankenstein's "context"--the "radical science" described by Marilyn Butler in one of the essays included in this edition--nicely indicates that ethical and not purely aesthetic needs were met by the new genre, or this modern redaction of traditional utopian literature.

In short, I can imagine using each one of these editions in different classes: Wolfson's in an upper-division literature course trying to make sense of the Romantic era; Hunter's in a survey course or a historical literature course emphasizing feminist literary criticism (we teach a course called "British Women Writers" at Miami); and Wilt's in courses about the rise of science fiction or Victorian scientific culture. We are lucky to have such an array of choices.

1. Norton 160-166; reprinted from Approaches to Teaching Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, ed. Stephen C. Behrendt (New York: MLA, 1990), 31-37. (Back)

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Jerrold E. Hogle, The Undergrounds of The Phantom of the Opera: Sublimation and the Gothic in Leroux's Novel and Its Progeny

Jerrold E. Hogle, The Undergrounds of The Phantom of the Opera: Sublimation and the Gothic in Leroux's Novel and Its Progeny. New York: Palgrave, 2002. xv + 261pp.  $69.95. (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-312-29346-1).

Reviewed by
Steven Bruhm
Mount St. Vincent University

"What accounts for the continuities and the discontinuities in the history of this shifting but ongoing phenomenon?," Jerrold Hogle asks of The Phantom of the Opera (xi).  "What 'cultural work'--what symbolic shaping of the way we think in the West--does The Phantom of the Opera keep doing for us in its original form and in the wider variations on it?" (xi).  Beginning with these questions, Hogle gives us a subtle, nuanced, and lucid excavation of the social and psychological undergrounds that Leroux's Erik and his "progeny" throughout the twentieth century inhabit.  These undergrounds, Hogle argues, "turn out to be deep-seated anomalies in Western European life--crossings of boundaries between class, racial, gender, and other distinctions--that are quite basic to, but commonly shunted off as 'other' than, the social and individual construction of a rise middle-class 'identity'" (xii).  Put another way, the Phantoms are "sublimations" of cultural anxieties, displaced into a monstrously other figure yet resonant and legible as that which white Western culture needs to solidify its sense of itself as a developed and healthy people.

What follows from this hypothesis is a remarkable exercise in new historicist criticism.  Hogle devotes the first half of the book to historicizing Leroux's original novel of 1910, establishing its ghostly precursors in the Romantic Gothic as well as the cultural politics of Paris in the late nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries.  He emphasizes the history and architecture of the Paris Opera House, shooting this history through with reflections on the role of carnival in nineteenth-century France, the recurrence of the danse macabre in French art history, and the rise of psychology, sexology, and most particularly, psychoanalysis as a group of "human sciences" that configure the "human" at the fin de siècle.  By placing Leroux's Erik within and against these discourses--where the Phantom produces another set of the continuities and discontinuities I noted above--Hogle demarcates a truly overdetermined figure who registers the fantasies and fears of a burgeoning middle class.  Erik comes not just to represent but to embody and perform transgressions of boundaries regarding class, gender, sexuality, place, and episteme.  Most importantly, Erik foregrounds what has now become Hogle's oft-cited "ghost of the counterfeit," a proto-modernist signifier that points to nothing but other signifiers, thus opening up a gothic abyss of meaning at its center.  (More on this in a moment.)  Yet, unlike so many other new historicist studies, Hogle is always careful not to claim too much or to let his enthusiasm for Erik's disruptiveness run away with him.  He repeatedly reminds us that while the novel may present myriad threats to the stability of bourgeois identity, it "also finds ways, especially in its manner of reportage, to settle and seem to contain" these threats through self-conscious fictionality (36).  As Hogle says, "the original phantom is an announcement of these anomalies [of middle-class ontology] in a way that makes them 'safe'" (75).

The second half of the book exports this pointedly French figure into the cultural politics and practices of twentieth-century Anglo-American phantomizing.  (And the degree to which the book leaves behind twentieth-century France is quite startling.  After the painstaking historicizing of its first half, Hogle's study leaves me wondering what sort of progeny France itself has bred.)  Hogle takes us from the first film adaptation, the 1924-25 silent film starring Lon Cheney, through the 1943 remake, versions of the tale in the 1960s and 70s, and into the famous 1986 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Throughout this half of the book Hogle again demonstrates his acumen in what is surely the book's greatest strength: an analysis of the politics of simulacra, whether that politics is located in the rise of industrial capitalism in the film industry (a phenomenon crucial to the 1925 film), Hollywood's reinvention of stage opera during the Second World War when only the most tired chestnuts could be imported from war-torn Europe (a difficulty that is central to the 1943 remake), Roe vs. Wade and the abortion debate in America (crucial for understanding the near-aborted title character in the 1987 Phantom), queer visibility and celebrity as they come to inform Michael Jackson's Ghosts (1996), and so on.  In each case Hogle analyzes deftly how revisions to the early Leroux novel effectively mute (but do not silence) fundamental anxieties regarding middle-class life and entertainment, thus engaging The Phantom of the Opera and its audiences in a repetition compulsion that operatically proclaims its centrality as one of our dominant fictions.

While The Undergrounds is unabashedly materialist in its analysis, Hogle is particularly interested in what he calls the "psychoanalytic veneer" that envelops the novel and its filmic revisions through the twentieth century.  After all, you don't need to be Freud to wonder about the psychological significance of a malign "underground" force who draws his decorating scheme from his mother's bedroom--and its proximity to her death chamber--so that he (Erik) can seduce a maternally suggestive and socially proper young woman into its corrupting orbit; nor about this virginal young woman who finds herself attracted to Erik because he reminds her of her own father.  Hogle wants to take these psychoanalytic moments seriously and to use them as the central sub-argument of his book.  Hence the psychologically inflected question that runs throughout this study: "What…are the cultural or even political imperatives in the virtually simultaneous rise and development of psychoanalysis and The Phantom of the Opera in Western thinking, especially in Europe around the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century?  What ideological and social purposes are served by both the psychoanalytic scheme and its use in Leroux's Fantôme?" (37).

Historicizing the psychoanalytic in The Phantom offers Hogle his richest opportunity for elaborating a theory of gothic "sublimation," a term crucial to his subtitle.  He centers on concepts such as "tender" (32 ff) and "debt" (115), drawing their emotional and affective connotations into their financial ones.  By emphasizing the "debt" which the Paris Opera owes to the very forces it abjects--including the maternal, the low-class, the racially other--Hogle spins the site of the Opera and its phantasmatic inhabitant through Jean Baudrillard's theory of sublimation, in which the Freudian concept of sublimating desire melds with Baudrillard's post-structuralist theory of simulation.  Simulation, the ubiquitous fact of counterfeit tender and empty signification, becomes the spectacle of repression's return (and here "repression" must be considered in both its social and its psychological aspects).  What Hogle produces from this monstrous marriage is a theory that extends far beyond The Phantom of the Opera and its progeny and into the gothicisim of (post)modernity itself.  As Hogle's own debts to Kristeva, Lacan, and Zízek make clear, Erik and his sons are avatars that allegorize the impossibility of subjectivity as it is constructed--and deconstructed--within capitalist models of exchange.

Readers of a certain bent may find themselves resisting Hogle in his relentless subordinating (sublimating?) of psychoanalysis to social materialism.  For example, let's consider the status that "family" holds in Leroux's Phantom. Hogle smartly argues that the desired closeness between Christine and her father is the desire for a return to the pastoral, a pre-industrial France nostalgically invented by these post-Romantic visionaries.  Such a move is symptomatic of the book's overall take on psychoanalysis: "Leroux's Fantôme . . . employs psychoanalytic motifs especially about father-daughter and mother-son relationships . . . but the novel does so in a way that reveals such notions as consequences of the cultural and ideological construction of the bourgeois family" (160-61).  This is no doubt true, and such a constructionism aligns the novel with its Romantic precursors in convincing ways, but it does not explain why Christine and her father should want that closeness in the first place, why they need to imagine a space that will permit it.  In other words, it does not explain the intensity of father-daughter desire that grounds its bourgeois fantasies.  We could bring the same questions to Erik and his absent mother--indeed, Hogle often does, in his drawing on Kristeva as a primary theoretical model.  One might easily argue here that the more oedipal desires between father and daughter or mother and son precede the fantasized social space (Christine's Eden, Erik's bedroom) that will allow those desires to be realized, rather than the other way around.  Thus, when Hogle warns us against taking the energies of the novel "in a narrowly Freudian direction . . . if the reader chooses to stay at a 'mental' or just 'familiar' level" (100), we might push harder on what that "just 'familiar'" might be made to mean in this narrative.

While one might want to quibble with the psychoanalytic temporalities as they are represented in Leroux's novel, Hogle's study capitalizes on all those psychoanalytically based desires in his study of Leroux's progeny.  Indeed, the book is brilliant in its suturing of the material and the psychological at particularly moments in twentieth-century Anglo-American history.  In this way The Undergrounds of The Phantom of the Opera will be important not only as the definitive analysis of the cultural phenomenon that just won't seem to die, but as a model for scholars and students on the sophisticated ways that psychoanalysis can be historicized and history can be psychoanalyzed.

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Leah Price, The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot

Leah Price, The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.  vii + 224pp.  $55.00 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-521-78208-2).

Reviewed by
Michael Gamer
University of Pennsylvania

Within a culture of the excerpt, the novel forms a test case. Few genres have been better placed to escape the anthology's sphere of influence. Sheer scale helps define the novel. So do the pace and duration of reading which the scale elicits. But the novel depends just as much on readers' resistance to those demands. Skipping (or anthologizing) and skimming (or abridging) have never been separable from a genre that cracks under its own weight. (5)

Leah Price has written an original and cogent book, one that will invite readers to find pleasure in their own habits of reading and compel literary critics to become more self-conscious about how, when, and why we quote, excerpt, and paraphrase. Reviewing a book whose chapters feature section headings like "The Ethics of the Review" (137) feels somewhat like responding to a dare, and my own opening epigraph (without question) has been selected with more than usual care after reading Price's clever and playful study. As it suggests, part of her aim is to expand our sense of the sheer range of anthologizing acts out there--from "[s]kipping (or anthologizing) and skimming (or abridging)" to extracting, compiling, indexing, and expunging--not to mention connecting these acts of reading to the material texts they produce. The analogies inscribed in such parenthetical shifts as "skimming (or abridging)" are key to the book's daring and pleasures. They also form the keystone of its project of combining studies in book history and narrative technique, and of shifting the focus of both critical approaches to readers. Thus, Price's introduction compares acts of anthologizing to those of literary reviewing, cinematic previewing, and quoting out of context, all of which "depend on a gentleman's agreement to take the parts of a work for the whole" (2).

In arguing that the anthology shaped the production and prestige of the novel in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Price bases her notion of the anthology on the act of selection--that anthologies cull, abridge, and otherwise curb texts, and that such acts inscribe complex and contradictory assumptions about literary value. At once authoritative and derivative in their nature, anthologies embody these very ambivalences in their officious and dependent relations to their sources. With these axioms in mind, Price provides chapter-length treatments of Samuel Richardson and George Eliot, and shorter explorations of Ann Radcliffe, Walter Scott, and Susan Ferrier. This is hardly a representative group of authors by any principle of selection. But as the title of the first chapter ("Richardson's Economies of Scale") proposes, part of Price's rationale of selection depends on authors of stout literary corpuses, the sheer length of whose works invites precisely the skipping and skimming she contends to be inseparable from the novel. The first abridgments of Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison, after all, appeared during Richardson's lifetime, and Richardson's own addition of an index to the second edition of Clarissa suggests that he expected "readers would have forgotten the beginning by the time they reached the end" (13).

Given this choice of authors, The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel becomes an argument primarily about those writers who raised the prestige of the novel between 1740 and 1880. The inevitable anthologizing of such authors' works into Sentiments (of Richardson), Beauties (of Scott), and Sayings (of Eliot) becomes not necessarily a byproduct of novels in general but rather of those novelists whose work rendered the novel respectable. It is not surprising, then, that Price's four primary authors are famous at once for the length of their works and for their fame as aphorism-, quotation-, and epigraph-makers--and, if one includes Ferrier as a fifth author, obsessive ones at that. Hence the detailed chapters on Richardson and Eliot, those two exceptions to the rule that novelists are not worth quoting for their beauties, frame shorter treatments of three writers who were famous for quoting others: Ann Radcliffe for inserting her own poetry into her fiction and popularizing the use of chapter mottoes as "breaks" and "brakes" to the reading process; Scott for subverting these practices by often composing his own mottoes and passing them off as being written by others; and Ferrier for quoting so often and in such commonplace fashion that she stands, for Price, as the authorial embodiment of Austen's Catherine Morland, who quotes anthologized snippets without a knowledge of the texts or contexts from which she quotes.

Price's primary aim is less to provide a broadly historicized account of novelistic form than to explain the anthology's relation to it--a relation governed, she argues, by the "logic of the exception":

For a novelist, to be excerpted is sometimes an honor (as for Richardson), sometimes an embarrassment (as for George Eliot), but always an anomaly. Yet as I'll suggest, precisely because anthologies tend to derive their raw material from more esthetically and morally serious genres (epic, lyric, essay), the novel tests the anthology's power. By salvaging anthology-pieces from their low origins, editors prove their authority to grant personal dispensations from generic rules . . . . Anthologies' logic of the exception does not simply demarcate quotable passages from the bulk of the novels in which they originally appeared. It also distinguishes anthologized authors from the mass of novelists, and the readers of anthologies (or reviews or criticism) from the novel's mass public. (6-7)

Richardson and Eliot thus do not open up anthologies to other writers of fiction so much as take on the status of exceptionality, their writings transformed by anthologists so as to separate them from the common herd of novelists. How this process of distinguishing is extended to readers is demonstrated persuasively in the chapter on Richardson, which begins by examining the organizational strategies of the first abridgments and selected excerpts of Clarissa. Whether reducing epistolary form to third-person narrative, providing thematic indices, or selectively re-organizing its base text alphabetically into collections of moral sentiments, such texts in Price's account highlight tensions already present in the novels themselves. Her readings of Richardson and his anthologizers show both grappling with how to police readers greedy only for plot--a concern that leads Richardson to question not only where the literary value of his story lies, but also the nature of his own role as the "editor" and compiler of his works. As a result, both Clarissa and Grandison explore issues of cultural value and literary property, particularly the relation between the epistolary novel's many signers (of letters) and the power of the editor who selects, compiles, and introduces them. When Price examines the series of abridger-editors who, over the years, selected what in Richardson to keep and what to cull, she finds "successive generations' unspoken assumptions about the most efficient way to convey information, and indeed about what counts as information at all" (13).

Price thus reads the texts of Richardson's various anthologizers also as more general responses to epistolary form, their strategies providing clues to the waning of the epistolary novel's popularity as the nineteenth century turned. As she demonstrates, such axieties over the reading process certainly guided later eighteenth-century commentators on Richardson like James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, and Clara Reeve, all of whom defended the epistolary novel's tendency to prolixity by insisting that one did not read Richardson "for the story." These same issues also appear to have guided later abridgers of Clarissa, who only began preserving its epistolary form "when the novel in letters was safely dead. The letter became legible only as a historical relic" (50). Taking up this question of the death of epistolary fiction, the chapter concludes with a coda on Scott's Redgauntlet (1824), Price reading it as a "Literary-Historical Novel" because of the self-consciousness with which it moves from epistolarity to journalizing to third-person narration. At once a commentary on and a mimicking of the history of the novel, Redgauntlet enacts in a single text the same literary history Scott constructs on a grander scale through the Ballantyne's Novelist's Library (1821-24), which canonized the epistolary novel of Richardson even as it ended with the third-person narration of Ann Radcliffe, thereby banishing epistolarity to a dead literary past.

Impressive as the chapter on Richardson is, I found the treatment of George Eliot in chapter three ("George Eliot and the Production of Consumers") equally compelling. Focusing on Eliot's dealings with her fan and anthologizer, Alexander Main, Price contends that, just as anthologies shaped the development of the novel as a whole, so "Main's anthologies indirectly shaped the way Eliot's work was perceived… [and] redefined the genre of Eliot's oeuvre and the gender of its author, in contradictory ways: they canonized Eliot's novels by packaging her as a poet, and bracketed her with male predecessors by marketing her to women" (106). Price then makes a bold leap at mid-chapter, connecting Main to the many impostors who had plagued Eliot's early career successes either by claiming her work as their own or by passing off their own sequels and prequels as by her. In many ways, the rhetorical move resembles the first chapter's shift from abridgments of Richardson to Richardson's own anxieties over the status and authority of the epistolary editor-compiler. Even if one cannot finally believe the anthologizer and forger share the same cultural status, one still finds the analysis of each to be compelling, inventive, and fresh.

Standing as it does between the treatments of Richardson and Eliot, chapter two ("Cultures of the Commonplace") is less a single argument than a survey of anthologizing acts, from Vicessimus Knox's Elegant Extracts (1783) to Ann Radcliffe's poetic interpolations in the 1790s to Thomas Bowdler's ten-volume Family Shakespere (1818). The chapter opens by positing a fundamental change in the cultural function of anthologies after Donaldson v. Beckett (1774), the landmark case that ended perpetual copyright in Britain. Almost immediately, "[t]imely miscellanies of new works gave way to timeless gleanings from the backlist," the anthologist becoming an "amanuensis . . . represent[ing] a community instead of expressing a self" (68). With this shift in mind, Price turns to the figure of the Reverend Vicessimus Knox, whose Elegant Extracts (1783) became a standard textbook in schools and whose editorial practices became standard in nineteenth-century anthologies. Through her analysis, we find Knox's principles of selection and impersonal persona adopted not only by the Bowdlers and the Lambs for their collections of Shakespeare, but also by Ann Radcliffe and Charlotte Smith, whose novels featured inset poems privileging lyric and whose chapter epigraphs stuck primarily to anthology-pieces by dead male poets of established fame.

What these acts of anthologization share is a preoccupation with a reading public perceived to be increasing in size and heterogeneity. One can only construct the image of "a national public brought together by shared reading of Shakespeare," Price wryly comments, once that name "[becomes] attached to a range of genres wide enough to distinguish one market niche from another" (77). It is here that we arrive at the center of the book's argument about what anthologies do to their authors. Admitting Shakespeare to anthologies, after all, no more opened anthologies' floodgates to other dramatists than admitting Eliot opened them to other novelists. Rather than democratizing literature by leveling hierarchies of genre, anthologies in Price's account perform the opposite effect: that of separating anthology-readers from common ones by placing owners of the Collection of Moral and Instructive Sentiments . . . Contained in the Histories of Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison (1751) above the plot-hungry consumers of Richardson's narrative fiction. In perhaps the boldest claim of the chapter, Price attributes the formal innovations of Romantic-period fiction almost entirely to the anthology:

Where Richardson had tried to enter the anthology, his successors could only enter into competition with it. Nearly every fictional subgenre to emerge at this moment borrowed the discontinuous structure of the anthology--and made a bid, at least, for its social functions. Some took on its ambition to compile a national literary memory, others its project of disciplining narrative greed, others its campaign against solipsistic reading. The gothic novel turned narrative into a hook to hang anthology-pieces on. So did verse like Charlotte Smith's punctuated just as regularly by short inset lyrics. The historical novel and the national tale of the following generation reduced plot to a filler for the interstices between verse epigraphs, snatches of oral ore, and excerpts from antiquarian documents (91).

Passages like this one come frequently enough to form one of the chief pleasures of the chapter. We find one equally dazzling only a few pages later, when Price attributes reviewers' hostility to skipping to the conventions of their own genre, depending as it does on the summary and the extract. Yet such rapid movement is not without its costs. Her decision to ignore Radcliffe's responsiveness to reviews and to treat her fiction as of a single piece, for example, produces an unnecessarily reductive reading--particularly in reference to The Italian (1797), which shows Radcliffe reacting to criticism of The Mysteries of Udolpho by scrapping inset lyrics but keeping chapter epigraphs. This struck me as a missed opportunity, since the difference in cultural status between quoted epigraphs and original inset poems is precisely the kind of question Price handles with such panache.

What is surprising in a book this capacious is Price's decision not to look to any of the various eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of novels other than (very briefly) Scott's Ballantyne's Novelist's Library (1821-24). Even allowing for her focus on hierarchies of genre and on processes of selection and expurgation, the absence is still palpable. Publications like Harrison's Novelist's Magazine (1780-88) and Barbauld's fifty-volume The British Novelists (1810) are as much selections as collections. The differences existing between these later novel anthologies and earlier eighteenth-century ones (which usually concentrated on shorter fiction from the Continent), moreover, would only bolster the argument of the second chapter, or even provide ample material for additional one. Perhaps a book of such originality and interest would only be weighed down by more material; but in this case I cannot believe so. When reading through Price's discussion on Richardson and literary property, one cannot help wanting to know how these same issues play themselves out in Fielding's heavily allusive fictions, in the (genuinely strange) later eighteenth-century editions of Robinson Crusoe, or in novels like Evelina (1778) and The Romance of the Forest (1791), whose respective authors, production histories, and stories thematize similar problems of ownership and executorship. In many ways a revised dissertation consisting of a short introduction and three chapters, The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel is an unnecessarily thin book. Its two sustained readings, superbly researched and genuinely insightful, cannot fully support the larger argument; unlike many books, this one's brevity is not a source of relief. Given the power of the writing and the analysis, its central question of how the anthology shaped the rise of the novel deserves fuller treatment. Price provides a blueprint and foundation, but the actual building is still in the planning stages.

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Philip Shaw, Waterloo and the Romantic Imagination

Philip Shaw, Waterloo and the Romantic Imagination. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002.  xvi + 260 pp. $69.95 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-333-99435-3).

Reviewed by
Charles Rzepka
Boston University

Philip Shaw's Waterloo and the Romantic Imagination combines detailed and extensive research into cultural, scientific, political, and artistic responses to the deciding engagement of the Napoleonic Wars with a challenging, and largely persuasive, reading of its often paradoxical impact on the major writers of the romantic movement.  Employing a Lacanian mode of cultural analysis, Shaw succeeds in up-ending traditional apocalyptic views of Waterloo as a unifying, and unified, historical watershed in the rise of Great Britain as a modern nation state.  As he is at pains to show, far from serving to consolidate the victors' national identity, Napoleon's final defeat tested "ideas of nationhood, authority and the relations between violence and identity" in a more profound manner than the War itself ever could have done (x).

What is distinctive and ironic about Waterloo, for Shaw, is that it did away with the only powerful motive for national unity that England had known for some two decades.  Represented primarily as a defeat for tyranny, in the form of Napoleon's limitless ambitions, the battle left open the question, for Whigs and Tories alike, of what exactly had been won.  The legitimation crisis that had been artificially resolved by Britain's entry into the war soon began to re-emerge, aided by the pressures of economic dislocations, rising unemployment, and widespread political unrest.  Celebrated throughout the following year, Waterloo thus "captures a moment of life-threatening fragility, the point where dreams of national perfection teeter on the edge of impossibility" (4).

In Shaw's view, Waterloo becomes, for the post-War public imaginary, "Sublime" in a Lacanian sense, "an impossible object of desire, a measure of the limits of imagination and crucially of the lack at the heart of the nation state" (6).  Contributing to Waterloo's resistance to representability was the inherent difficulty of subsuming under a single unified idea the appalling reality of death, carnage, and disorder on such a huge scale.  Turner alone among painters, says Shaw, seems to have recognized, in The Field of Waterloo (1818), the impossibility of reconciling the gruesome facts of war with the idealization of a collective national will to victory (22-23).  In nearly all other representations of the battle, graphic, dramatic, and written, true suffering is erased by anecdotal illustrations of the "stiff upper lip" variety (24-25) or by panoramic overviews in which culturally indigestible details are lost.

In successive chapters, Shaw examines the specific impact of Waterloo on the imaginations of its first cultural mediators, beginning with a suggestive juxtaposition of the battlefield visits of Sir Walter Scott and the eminent brain scientist and surgeon, Sir Charles Bell, who met each other at the site soon after the event.  In Shaw's view, Waterloo forces Scott and Bell to move in opposite directions along the polarities of history and romance. Bell, tending the wounded and dying, began sketching anatomical studies that, in their attempts to contain the reality of death and suffering in a Romantic aesthetics of fragments and decay, mark a transition "from surgical detachment to aesthetic enchantment" (42).  By contrast, Scott's The Field of Waterloo (1815) betrays his "secret sympathy" (59) with the historically doomed Napoleon in opposition to the triumphant but phlegmatic Wellington.  Seeing in France an irrecoverable ideal of romance similar to Jacobite Scotland, Scott soon put aside his poems of Border minstrelsy to pursue, in the continuation of the Waverley novels, a more vigorously historicized version of that bygone Scottish epoch.  In his first such attempt, The Antiquary, Scott reveals his understanding of the fictional--which is to say, ultimately unrepresentable--status of history itself in the wake of Waterloo, a series of "illusions redeemed and rechannelled in the service of the state" (63).

Shaw's next chapter, on battle-tours and panoramic exhibitions, builds on the post-battle accounts of Scott and Bell to construct a portrait of "battle tourism" as an opportunity for various classes to intermingle and socialize outside the constraints of conventional society and within the homogenizing ideals of the picturesque.  This democratization of tourism promoted a paradoxical ideological fiction of distinction, however, emblematized by Napoleon's "Observatory," a 60-foot wooden tower, erected for government surveying purposes by the King of the Netherlands, that Napoleon had commandeered to watch the battle unfold.  Bell's account of the panoramic views available from the top of this tower participates in a bourgeois fantasy of "ideological totality" (69) resulting from the tourist's usurpation of the Usurper's--Napoleon's--omnivoyant point of view.  While Bell seemed to be aware of the fantastic status of this point of view, it soon became central to the popularity of panoramic representations of the battle back home.  In promoting the appearance of Waterloo as "a visual totality" for a democratized clientele, the Panorama functioned as an "ideological machine" that made Waterloo "impervious to the partial gaze of radical critique" (71), swallowing the details of individual suffering in distance while offering a nationally unifying image for mass consumption by Britons of all classes.

The next four chapters examine the poetry and prose of Southey, Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Byron as they were shaped by the incomprehensibly Sublime object of impossible desire that was Waterloo.  Shaw's readings of these authors are too complex and fine-grained to summarize here, but I will try to give some idea of their scope and direction.  Southey, preoccupied with the question of his own authority as Poet Laureate in the face of the need to make a living as a professional writer, challenges the factuality of Wellington's published aristocratic version of events in order to "square the Romantic ideal of a heroic, privatized subjectivity with the reality of his social status as a member of the very class that is learning to convert this ideal into a marketable commodity" (97).  Coleridge, who never addressed Waterloo directly, reveals its impact in his reflections on the Imagination in Biographia Literaria; the staging of Remorse, his revision of Osorio, at Drury Lane; and the writing of his box-office failure, Zapolya.  Wordsworth, after a life-long interest in things military, hails "Carnage" as the "daughter" of God in his unpopular "Thanksgiving" ode to reveal the reality of war in the midst of an ignorant triumphalism, and works in general to dispel "the fascination with Wellington" (146), whom Wordsworth sees as little more than a self-interested tool of the state. Byron's response reveals sharp class distinctions in the Whig response to Napoleon's defeat.  In particular, Byron's inability to understand why Napoleon did not choose death over dishonor shows the difference between his "tragic" view of history, based on the "aristocratic ideals of the private sphere," and the "utilitarian" views of middle-class liberals like Leigh Hunt, for whom true heroism consists in practically advancing, like Shakespeare, Bacon, and Newton, "democratic principles" (171).

These thumbnail summaries hardly cover the wide range of Shaw's analyses, which are well-informed, various, and almost without exception stimulating.  However, readers may find themselves wondering occasionally how they arrived at a particular bend in the road and, more importantly, how they are supposed to find their way back to Shaw's central thesis concerning the unreadability of Waterloo as historic event and cultural symbol.  In a related manner the postmodern psychoanalytic fabric of Shaw's analysis, which fits him well at the outset, stretches in the wearing.  At one point, a Lacanian interpretation of De Quincey's "The English Mail-Coach" requires Shaw to read the essay as a "hallucinatory fantasy of matricide" (202-3), despite the fact that the Royal Mail never threatens the life of a mother, but of a young woman and her beau.  Elsewhere, Shaw's eagerness to indict Southey for effacing the human reality of war from the Waterloo passages in his Journal of a Tour in the Netherlands in the Autumn of 1815 motivates a related charge, in the manner of John Barrell and Marjorie Levinson, that the poet has erased unpleasant signs of human labor in a preceding description of Dutch farmlands (102-03).  Yet Southey himself remarks the physical absence of laborers from the silent fields, as might be expected in November, even though "the agriculture proved the existence of an ample and active population."  One can hardly accuse a writer of erasing from his landscape people who were not there, especially when he acknowledges signs of their tangible existence beyond the narrative frame

In the main, however, Shaw's book is a compelling elucidation of the cultural contradictions incited by Waterloo, particularly in the final chapter, where he teases out the far-reaching effects of the eroticization of war in productions as diverse as the nude Achilles memorial project for Wellington, Thackeray's account of the Duchess of Richmond's ball in Vanity Fair, the bullfight stanzas from Canto I of Childe Harold, and Leigh Hunt's anti-war poem, Captain Sword and Captain Pen.  Shaw's argument throughout is deft, witty, informed, and bristling with implications for further research.  This is a much-needed contribution to our understanding of the social transformations and literary repercussions of perhaps the single most important event to have occurred in the nineteenth-century history of England.  No one interested in the rapidly changing cultural scene of post-Napoleonic Britain can afford to ignore it.

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Clara Tuite, Romantic Austen: Sexual Politics and the Literary Canon

Clara Tuite, Romantic Austen: Sexual Politics and the Literary Canon. Cambridge Studies in Romanticism, no. 49.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. xiii + 242 pp.  Illus.: 4 halftones.  $60.00 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-521-80859-6).

Reviewed by
Devoney Looser
University of Missouri-Columbia

Debates about whether or not Austen is "Romantic" have raged for decades, so it is surprising that Clara Tuite's forceful book is the first to address the subject.  Tuite's argument, that Austen's writings are steeped in some of the ideologies of Romanticism, is certainly accurate.  It should seem odd to label Austen an Augustan or Regency author, either removed from her own day and age or placed in a literary category all her own. Tuite's book might provoke arguments about which ideologies Austen's texts display, but Romantic Austen provides the groundwork on which future scholars who consider the matter will need to build.

Those who expect to see comparison to the "big six" and their relationship to Austen's oeuvre will be either disappointed or surprised. Though there are a handful of references to Wordsworth and Coleridge, the names Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Blake do not appear herein.  The Romantic to whom Tuite repeatedly compares Austen is Edmund Burke; the term she most often associates with both figures is "organicism" (11).  As Tuite puts it, "it is possible to identify Austen with a kind of Burkean position that venerates the country ideal and attempts the 'renovation' of the paternal aristocratic order" as the natural order (170).  Likening Austen to Burke does not tell the whole story for Tuite. What complicates Austen's debt to Burke is "feminocentrism," a feature that shows Austen's "commitment to upward mobility for women" and that makes her a kind of "Tory feminist" (95; 170). Austen manifests a greater liberal and professional investment in writing than does Hannah More or Jane West, according to Tuite; Austen also exhibits a greater sense of the "aesthetic as an autonomous category" (171). Tuite's study explores "the relationship between aristocratic apologia and female social mobility" in Austen's writings (155).

Tuite writes that she means for her title to call up not only Romanticism and the Romantic period but also to signify the "romance" of heterosexual love (17).  Page for page, the Burkean Austen gets more extensive treatment than the feminocentric one. Nevertheless, those sections in which sex and gender take center stage will likely provoke more commentary. These sections might be classed (in an emerging field of study indebted to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and pioneered by Terry Castle, Claudia Johnson, and D. A. Miller, among others) as "Queer Austen" (17).  In her introduction, Tuite includes clever readings of popular uses of Austen, including one of a Museum of London poster, touting an exhibition titled, "Pride & Prejudice: Lesbian and Gay London" (20-1).  She also makes a case for a "queer reading of Austen" by "interrogating heterosexual romance at the level of genre and canonical reproduction" (18).

The project of  "queering" emerges in nearly every chapter.  It does so in the reading of Catharine, or The Bower's Aunt Percival, who is seen as a deviant maiden aunt devoted to closeting her charge in a story of "homosexual panic" (34). Tuite concludes, "the bower is a prepubescent female matrix from which the sexually ambiguous heroine emerges into heterosexuality" (38).  Later sections in the chapter link this reading to interpretations of Austen as "maiden aunt" and show how this relates to her canonicity. Tuite suggestively concludes that Austen's canonicity demonstrates "the ‘rise' of the novel as the rise of the maiden aunt"--the "major social type of literary practitioner from the late eighteenth century" (52).

Another notable emergence of the book's "queering Austen" project occurs in the last chapter, devoted to Sanditon. There, we are told, "childless woman and niece hoarder" Lady Denham "adumbrates the figure of the lesbian vampire" (174).  Denham is so labeled because she "preys on sick young women and bleeds rich young West Indians, not with leeches but with milch-asses, thereby reversing the maternal figure of milking" (174).  Tuite identifies this lesbian vampirism as neo-Gothic, prototypical, and elegant (174-5). Again, Tuite leads us toward a biographical connection. She concludes that Lady Denham is fashioned as "a kind of fantastical alter-ego of Austen" (190).  This is because "Austen's ‘unfinished' novel finishes with the spectacle of a parvenue female who keeps the patrimonial fetishes of aristocratic culture but wishes to pass them down through women" (190).

In the more directly Burkean sections of Romantic Austen, Tuite works in the critical tradition of Marilyn Butler, whom she cites with frequency.  The other critic to whom Tuite is indebted is Clifford Siskin, whose important work on Romantic development and on "the work of writing" buttresses Tuite's arguments in every chapter. Chapter two shows how Sense and Sensibility comes "to be an instantiatory text of British domestic realism …. moved from being unremarkable to being almost the only version of sensibility which was told in English literary history" (58).  It does this, Tuite argues, through its "formal mechanisms" (62), including free indirect discourse and "counter-romance" (68).  Chapter three uses Mansfield Park to show that "Austen's texts themselves participate in the Romantic-period cultural strategy of naturalizing the country, and its local social relations," as did Burke in Reflections on the Revolution in France (100).  Tuite sees the texts as two sides of the same coin: "If Burke's Reflections offers political history as family romance, Mansfield Park is the family romance as political history" (101).  In this assessment, she is convincing, though I am not as persuaded as she is that Burke (and not Wollstonecraft or Godwin) is the appropriate comparison for Austen.

As the above summaries and quotations illustrate, Romantic Austen is a multi-layered and multi-faceted book that requires and generally rewards patient reading. The book is at its best when it gives readers strong arguments with which to grapple. Tuite's writing ticks may prove frustrating; there were too many uses of words like "instantiate" and "interimplicate" for my taste. Occasionally, the argument is also difficult to discern in her dazzling rhetoric.  Ultimately, however, the book offers up fascinating (if sometimes off-the-wall) interpretations of Austen. Tuite makes polemical statements on the subjects of sexual politics, genre, class, and nation that are sure to spark further and future debates on the character of Austen's relationship to Romanticism and/or the Romantic era.

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