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English Literature

JULIAN COWLEY, COLIN GRAHAM, LYNNE HAPGOOD, CHRIS


HOPKINS, DANIEL LEA, PAUL POPLAWSKI, JOHN NASH, JOHN
BRANNIGAN, MAGGIE B. GALE, MALCOLM PAGE, ALICE
ENTWISTLE AND FRAN BREARTON

The eight sections: 1. General; 2. Pre-1945 Fiction; 3. Post-1945


Fiction; 4. Pre-1950 Drama; 5. Post-1950 Drama; 6. Pre-1950 Poetry; 7. Post-1950
Poetry; 8. Irish Poetry. Section 1(a) is by Julian Cowley; section 1(b) is by Colin
Graham; section 2(a) is by Lynne Hapgood; section 2(b) is by Chris Hopkins;
sections 2(c–e) are by Daniel Lea; section 2(f) is by Paul Poplawski; section 2(g) is
by John Nash; section 3 is by John Brannigan; section 4 is by Maggie B. Gale;
section 5 is by Malcolm Page; section 6 is by Alice Entwistle; section 7 is by John
Brannigan; section 8 is by Fran Brearton.

.1. General

(a) British
Michael McKeon’s imposing and important anthology Theory of the Novel is ‘an
exercise in rebalancing’. Structuralist and post-structuralist narratologists are
pushed to the margins and emphasis falls upon theorists who have sought to
articulate ‘the coherence of the novel genre as a historical phenomenon’. The
principal value of structuralism, for McKeon’s purposes, is its usefulness in
dislodging partial, novel-centred views of narrative. This is exclusively a twentieth-
century collection, theorizing the novel as ‘a modern phenomenon’. The first section
focuses upon genre theory; the second and third (drawing on Walter Benjamin,
Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Freud amongst others) address the origins of the novel.
Substantial statements by Georg Lukács, José Ortega y Gasset, and Mikhail Bakhtin
(the ‘grand theorists’) follow, then more recent revisions designed to provide ‘a
more concrete or specific historicization of the novel’s origins’. Ensuing sections
draw out sociocultural implications (including those pertaining to women, privacy,
and subjectivity) and engage with relevant epistemological and psychological
matters. The well-worn topic of ‘realism’ is handled with vitality, and is followed by

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discussion of photography, film, and the novel that groups Henry James with Walter
Benjamin and André Bazin. The concluding parts review the novel’s inveterate
claim to novelty (extending through Woolf’s modernism to Alain Robbe-Grillet’s
postmodernism), and the genre’s transportability from its west European locus of
origin into Latin America, Africa, and Asia. McKeon’s accompanying commentary,
observing dialectical method (as he explains), elaborates its own ‘syncretic theory of
the novel’. This is a richly stimulating volume, an invaluable resource and
challenging intervention for all serious researchers into the novel.
Critical discourse continues to promote pluralized conceptions of modernism, as
may be seen from the essays collected in Stevens and Howlett, eds., Modernist
Sexualities. Edith Ellis was an energetic feminist and minor novelist, who shared the
sexological interests of her husband Havelock Ellis and argued optimistically for
social and sexual experimentation. Jo-Ann Wallace takes Ellis’s current obscurity to
be illustrative of that repression which helps constitute familiar histories of
modernism. Jason Edwards looks at Yeats’s ideas about masturbation and
homosexuality. Caroline Howlett seeks to retrieve suffragettes from the margins of
‘the modernist scene’. Bridget Elliott examines the use of decorative practices in the
work of painter Marie Laurencin as a means to rehabilitate decadent strategies
towards criticism of traditional gender constructions. Morag Shiach investigates the
typewriter as historical technology contributory to the emancipation of women. Con
Coroneos ruminates suggestively on desire, closed systems, and the fate of the heart
in modernism. Geoff Gilbert links adolescence and the avant-garde in the
‘delinquent’ figure of Wyndham Lewis. Pamela Thurschwell unpacks telling
identifications made during the First World War by Henry James. Marianne
DeKoven considers Stein and Woolf as public women concerned with feminine
privacy and interiority. Melanie Taylor places Woolf’s Orlando in relation to
transsexual autobiography. Hugh Stevens writes on ‘primitive’ male–male bonding
in Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent. There are also essays on Cather, McCullers, and
Hemingway.
Michael J. Meyer has edited Literature and Homosexuality out of a conviction
that gay and lesbian issues remain repressed ‘even in the most modern and liberal of
classrooms’. These essays were written in affirmation of the validity of alternative
sexual choices and to make a case for equity between literary works that express
those choices and texts that enshrine heterosexual values. Writing by the Americans
Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, Alice Walker, Hart Crane, Gore Vidal,
Tennessee Williams, John Rechy and James Baldwin, and by the Uruguayan
Cristina Peri Rossi, is addressed. Roger Bowen discovers a challenge to sexual and
racial taboos in Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. Kathy J. Phillips examines
Brecht’s writings about homosexuality. Thomas March unpacks E.M. Forster’s
narration of homosexual experience within the mode of the fantastic in the Arcadian
tale ‘Little Imber’, written in 1961. Thomas Peele contributes ‘Queering Mrs.
Dalloway’, identifying homosexual desire in Woolf’s novel. David Coad traces
lesbian overtones in Mansfield’s short stories.
Acknowledging that feminist scholarship has established the centrality of gender
to current thinking about modernism, Gerald N. Izenberg points out, in Modernism
and Masculinity: Mann, Wedekind, Kandinsky through World War I, that ‘manhood
in jeopardy’ is a recurrent theme in early modernist art and literature. His aim in the
book is to bring to light ‘a subjective sense of masculinity endangered’ that is rarely

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disclosed by standard accounts of the passage through crisis of the bourgeois ideal
of masculinity in Europe at the start of the twentieth century. Izenberg investigates
interrelationships between the work and lives of novelist Thomas Mann, playwright
Frank Wedekind, and painter Wassily Kandinsky in order to propose unfamiliar
connections between issues of masculine identity and modernist innovation.
Detailed analyses address Wedekind and freedom, Mann and transcendence, and
Kandinsky and abstraction, while depicting each of these men as caught between
desire to assimilate ‘the feminine’ and a need to exert mastery over it. Each held an
idealized femininity to embody ‘both autonomous creative power and connection
with the whole of being’. These localized case studies have implications, Izenberg
argues, for our understanding of modernism more generally.
Given the restlessness of critical discourse on modernism in its desire for new
meanings and refined distinctions, the task of creating a convenient introductory
guide to reflect current understanding poses evident challenges. Peter Childs’s
Modernism, written for the New Critical Idiom series, struggles to find an
appropriate level of discussion and to sustain an appropriate focus on this volatile
topic. Childs opts to take Beckett’s Murphy as ‘an in some ways representative
Modernist piece of writing’ in an opening chapter that starts with dictionary
definitions of ‘romance’, ‘realism’, and ‘modernism’. The next section sketches the
influential roles of Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, Einstein, and Saussure, a
conventional array of formative figures. Cursory overview of modernist cultural
production follows, with writing organized by genre, painting by movement, plus
brief mention of film. The final section, entitled ‘Texts, Contexts, Intertexts’, groups
representative authors thematically. Mew, Mansfield, and D.H. Lawrence coincide
under the heading ‘Freedom and Gender’; Woolf, West, and Eliot under ‘Identity
and War’; Forster, Yeats, and Joyce under ‘Symbolism and Language’; and James,
Conrad, and Ford under ‘Epistemology and Narration’. Childs observes that ‘to
develop a reasonable grasp of the subject there is of course no substitute for reading
the Modernist writers themselves’. A more complex sense of the contested identity
of those writers would be appropriate.
Caughie, ed., Virginia Woolf in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, brings
Bloomsbury into intriguing configuration with Walter Benjamin. Woolf and
Benjamin are aligned as authors of critiques of commodity culture, urban spaces,
and systemic ideologies. Their standing and significance as cultural commentators,
and points of contact between them, are set out in essays by Leslie Kathleen Hankins
and Sonita Sarker. Woolf’s writing is shown, like Benjamin’s, embedded in the
early twentieth-century’s volatile technological environment and correlative new
formations of subjectivity. Melba Cuddy-Keane and Bonnie Kime Scott suggest
ways to locate Woolf in relation to the ‘New Aurality’ of wireless and gramophone.
Michael Tratner identifies the filmic qualities of Between the Acts. Holly Henry
explores Woolf’s interest in telescopes and cosmology. Makiko Minow-Pinkney
takes the motor car as focal point for her investigation of relationships between
Woolf’s writing and ‘the new technological conditions of the age’. Jane Garrity
places Vogue in relation to modernism and analyses Woolf’s ambivalent
involvement with the magazine. Maggie Humm revealingly looks into the
photographic interests of this great-niece of Julia Margaret Cameron. Mark Hussey
muses on Woolf in the age of hypertext. This collection affirms Woolf’s usefulness

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to cultural studies and to Benjamin’s continuing relevance to intelligent discussion


of mass culture.
Virginia Woolf in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is a volume in the Border
Crossings series, whose editor Daniel Albright exercises his own considerable
interdisciplinary skills in Untwisting the Serpent: Modernism in Music, Literature
and Other Arts, an erudite yet lively study that revises Lessing’s Laokoon towards
analysis of modernist multimedia projects. A division is observed here ‘not as a
tension between the temporal arts and the spatial, but as a tension between arts that
try to retain the propriety, the apartness, of their private media, and arts that try to
lose themselves in some pan-aesthetic whole’. Albright launches probes into
modernist collaborations such as Stravinsky’s work with the Ballets Russes, Weill’s
creative partnership with Brecht, Cocteau’s theatrical spectacles and Apollinaire’s
Les Mamelles de Tiresias. Pound’s Cantos are considered in relation to Noh drama,
and reference is made to Woolf and D.H. Lawrence. The eurhythmic exercises of
Émile Jacques Dalcroze are regarded as ‘part of the Modernist urge to restore
corporeality to art’. Albright’s assured trajectories through the field testify to
impressive scholarship and produce some richly suggestive readings as well as a
clearly delineated argument. He is especially enlightening in his discussion of music
(often an area of weakness in comparative studies).
Editors Howard J. Booth and Nigel Rigby claim that Modernism and Empire is
‘the first book-length study that seeks to explore the pervasive but complex
interrelations between British colonialism and the modern movement’. Certainly it
offers some fresh angles. After Patrick Williams’s exposition of theoretical issues,
Rod Edmond traces the influence of degenerationist ideas in imperialist and
modernist discourse. Helen Carr shows imagist poetics emerging from ‘questioning
of Western representations and Western superiority, emerging in a climate which
took distrust of the British imperialism very much for granted’. Elleke Boehmer
investigates how Leonard Woolf (in his writings on Ceylon) and W.B. Yeats (in his
enthusiasm for Tagore) responded to challenges posed by cultural otherness. Janet
Montefiore makes a case for acknowledging Kipling as ‘an unrecognised modernist’
as well as a conservative imperialist. C.L. Innes differentiates Yeats and Joyce from
British and European modernists and connects them to post-colonial writers. Máire
ní Fhlathúin reveals the anti-colonial modernism of Patrick Pearse. John Nash writes
on Joyce’s deployment of newspapers towards a critique of imperialism in Ulysses.
Howard J. Booth looks at the fluctuating expectations that arose from D.H.
Lawrence’s search for regenerative resources in non-European cultures. Nigel
Rigby discloses Sylvia Townsend Warner’s subversion of imperialist ideologies in
her modernist fantasy Mr Fortune’s Maggot. Abdulrazak Gurnah addresses Elspeth
Huxley’s The Flame Trees of Thika and other settler writing in Kenya. Bill Ashcroft
and John Salter dislocate an imposed modernist classification in order to identify
‘creative articulation of Australian difference’ by twentieth-century artists and
writers. Mark Williams examines adaptations of modernism towards a bicultural
dialogue within New Zealand literature in his ‘Mansfield in Maoriland’.
Angela Smith has written Katherine Mansfield for the Literary Lives series.
Mansfield’s development as a writer of short stories is traced through a matrix
formed from issues arising out of her colonial identity, gender, and failing health.
Her authorial identity is delineated in relation to varied facets of her experience,
including marriage to John Middleton Murry, involvement with the arts magazine

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Rhythm, and exposure to Wilde’s aestheticism, Bergsonian philosophy, Fauvist


painting, Arthur Symons’s writings on symbolism, A.R. Orage’s Nietzschean
vision, and the Russian Ballet. Smith observes a chronological framework and brief
analyses of key stories illustrate Mansfield’s literary positioning of her self.
David Wykes has contributed Evelyn Waugh to the ‘Literary Lives’ series. It is
much closer to straight biography than the Mansfield volume, and argues that as a
novelist Waugh’s strength was not invention but embroidered transformation of
lived experience; his ‘dependence on his own history was almost total’. Wykes
critically surveys the oeuvre, and recounts Waugh’s struggle against the literary
reputations of his father and brother, his education and brief flirtation with
modernism, his youthful taste for travel and life-long susceptibility to privileged
social standing, his interest in cinema, the failure of his first marriage, his
conversion to Roman Catholicism, and his war service. These are taken to be
formative influences upon Waugh’s literary identity, as considerable as the
persistent influence of Gibbon and Dickens.
In A Route to Modernism, Rosemary Sumner traces the contours of a concern for
‘the undefinable, the unanalyzable, the unresolved’ that runs through fiction by
Hardy, Lawrence and Woolf. Sumner argues that this is a current in modernist
literature distinct from the experimentation of Joyce and Stein yet equally
significant in terms of formal innovation. She indicates how the shared concern of
her chosen three authors for ‘the unknown, the unconscious’ led to rejection of
conventional plotting in favour of rhythmic forms adjacent to poetry and music.
These are precariously balanced between awareness of chaos and desire for
harmony, loyalty to the everyday and acknowledgement of the limits of common
understanding. Sumner describes the emergence of modernism in a range of Hardy’s
texts, identifying him as a pivotal figure between the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries. Her study looks forward rather than back (Schopenhauer receives just one
brief mention). Hardy’s fiction is considered in relation to Beckett’s absurdity and
(provocatively) to surrealism and (still more recklessly) to composer John Cage’s
predilection for indeterminacy. More substantial connections are made to
Lawrence’s exploratory achievement in The Rainbow and Women in Love, and to
Woolf’s advances towards communication of the inexpressible. After following her
chosen route, Sumner concludes that ‘modernism is not a fixed destination’.
Hapgood and Paxton, eds., Outside Modernism: In Pursuit of the English Novel
(also reviewed in section 2(a) of this chapter), is a stimulating collection of essays
employing various critical approaches drawn into alignment by shared
understanding of ‘realism and modernism as terms which describe literary
techniques rather than define conflictual literary movements’. English novels often
held to represent opposing sets of aesthetic assumptions are here brought into
significantly closer relationship within the early twentieth century’s ‘nexus of
social, psychological and literary change’. The basic contention is that the ‘modern’,
as it was perceived between 1900 and 1930, was not exclusively the province of high
modernism. Hapgood investigates Galsworthy’s depiction of suburban life in The
Man of Property; Paxton locates Forster’s fictional India between modernist
aestheticism and popular colonial novels, such as those of Maud Diver. John Rignall
challenges the orthodox position that the First World War marked a disintegration of
European values that necessitated modernism’s disjunctive forms. He examines
narrative coherence in relation to the persistence of communal life in fiction by

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Frederic Manning and R.H. Mottram. Arguing that ‘modernism begins in the realm
of theology’, Robert L. Caserio deconstructs Chesterton’s The Man Who Was
Thursday to elucidate anarchist terrorism’s putative ‘convergence with the
perplexities of modern epistemology and belief’. Richard Dellamora addresses the
‘vernacular modernism’ of Radclyffe Hall, which ‘splits and mixes genres’ to tackle
problems of gender politics within ostensibly conservative narrative structures. Ann
Ardis discovers a self-reflexive commentary on aesthetic production in D.H.
Lawrence’s treatment of music-hall theatre in The Lost Girl. William Greenslade
argues that mythologizing of nature in work by Stevenson, Kenneth Grahame,
Edward Thomas and Forster serves a critical, even disruptive, engagement with
national identity. John Lucas groups Sylvia Townsend Warner, Patrick Hamilton
and Henry Green as novelists whose apparent realism is suffused with technical and
political radicalism. Lyn Pykett attends to Rebecca West and May Sinclair, writers
who contributed to the defining critical discourse of modernism. Pykett illustrates
indebtedness in their own fiction to the New Woman novel of the 1880s and 1890s
and shows modernism in negotiation with writing from the immediate past.
In a 1918 review of Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage, May Sinclair made the
first application to literature of the term ‘stream of consciousness’. Since Virago
revived Sinclair’s novels Mary Olivier: A Life [1919] and Life and Death of Harriett
Frean [1922] she has herself been recognized as a pioneering modernist. Although
those novels remain central to the picture, Suzanne Raitt’s biography May Sinclair:
A Modern Victorian reveals more fully this writer from the generation preceding
Richardson, Woolf and Mansfield, a best-selling author during the decade before the
First World War, with an output including more than twenty novels and a book on
the Brontës. Raitt portrays Sinclair as an intensely private, somewhat isolated
individual, who nonetheless knew celebrated literary figures including Hardy, Ford,
Pound, Charlotte Mew, H.D. and Richard Aldington. Raitt’s focus falls on Sinclair’s
development as writer and intellectual. Her first popular success, The Divine Fire
[1904], is a critique of the bookselling industry. Starting with The Three Sisters
[1914] the impact of psychoanalysis was registered in her fiction. Brief first-hand
exposure to warfare in Belgium fed significantly into her writing. She
enthusiastically investigated the tenets of imagism. Raitt says that Sinclair regarded
‘creative genius’ as ‘a masculine force’, and shows how this and other factors
complicated her feminism. Born in 1863, Sinclair became a ‘modern’. A
groundbreaking life of this intriguing author, by T.E.M. Boll, was published in
1973. Raitt’s sequel adds some new details and identifies centres of enduring
interest in Sinclair’s fiction.
Angela K. Smith’s anthology Women’s Writing of the First World War (also
reviewed in section 2(a) of this chapter) was compiled primarily ‘to reclaim the
Great War as an arena of female experience, and to rediscover some of the written
material which articulates the experience’. Materials, including some composed
with hindsight, are drawn from fiction, diaries, letters, and documentary texts,
juxtaposed to convey a range of responses to events, public attitudes, and political
decisions. Some of the more than fifty writers are well-known literary figures (such
as Virginia Woolf, Mrs Humphry Ward, Radclyffe Hall, F. Tennyson Jesse and May
Sinclair); some are public figures (such as Cynthia Asquith, Beatrice Webb,
Christabel, Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst); others are more obscure (a Belgian
nun, a Scarborough schoolgirl, a middle-aged diarist from Kent). Although the

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extracts are ordered chronologically in sections, from the outbreak of war through
conscription and loss to Armistice, with Smith’s observations introducing each
section, in effect they form a mosaic depicting the wide-ranging impact of the
conflict upon women far away from the trenches and in supporting roles near the
front.
Angela K. Smith’s The Second Battlefield: Women, Modernism and the First
World War (also reviewed in section 2(a) of this chapter) is divided into two parts.
The first investigates personal documents and published records of women who
were actively involved in the First World War, on some form of military service or
offering medical aid. The second looks at modernist writing by women that,
according to Smith’s thesis, has roots in such war experience or personal accounts
of it. There are readings of Not So Quiet … by Evadne Price, H.D.’s Bid Me To Live,
May Sinclair’s The Tree of Heaven, Rose Macaulay’s Non-Combatants and Others,
Rose Allatini’s Despised and Rejected, Katherine Mansfield’s ‘An Indiscreet
Journey’, Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier, and Enid Bagnold’s The Happy
Foreigner. Smith aims to shed light on an interface between the writing of wartime
experiences, conditioned by peculiar private and public forms of constraint, and
self-conscious literary composition. The diary form is viewed as a having distinct
affinities with fragmented modernist narrative. So are nurses’ hospital narratives,
such as Bagnold’s A Diary without Dates and Ellen La Motte’s The Backwash of
War, which register a climate of dehumanization and crisis. Mary Borden’s
aesthetically self-aware collection of hospital sketches and stories, The Forbidden
Zone, occupies a special place within this study, in which neglected primary source
materials are retrieved, and an expanded conception of modernism is proposed.
The recent surge of critical interest in writing by Scottish women continues with
Anderson and Christianson, eds., Scottish Women’s Fiction, 1920s to 1960s:
Journeys into Being. Each essay is given over to close reading of a particular text,
and the volume as a whole conveys the diversity of approaches to writing novels
represented by Catherine Carswell, Willa Muir, Nan Sheperd, Naomi Mitchison,
Nancy Brysson Morrison, Jessie Kesson, and Muriel Spark. A surprise addition to
this list is Rebecca West, claimed as a Scot on account of her maternal ancestry.
Each of the editors contributes two chapters: Anderson writes on visual art in
Carswell’s Open the Door! and feminine space in West’s Scottish novel The Judge;
Christianson writes on ‘the dreaming of realities’ in Muir’s Imagined Corners and
ambiguous certainty in Spark’s The Ballad of Peckham Rye. Sheperd’s The Quarry
Wood and The Weatherhouse are used by Gillian Carter and Alison Lumsden
respectively to examine issues of regional and personal identity. Margaret
Elphinstone finds ‘the impulse of modernism’ in Mitchison’s The Corn King and the
Spring Queen. Beth Dickson looks at the treatment of repression in Muir’s Mrs
Ritchie. Margery Palmer McCulloch identifies the ‘poetic spirit’ in Morrison’s The
Gowk Storm. Kesson’s literary distance from the sentimental Kailyard tradition is
confirmed in essays by Glenda Norquay and Isobel Murray. To conclude, Jennie
Rubio offers a brief selective bibliography of writers whose work qualifies for
inclusion in the volume yet does not appear there.
Nico Israel’s Outlandish: Writing between Exile and Diaspora is a sophisticated
study of writing that occurs ‘between the perceived existential stability of the
individual and nation and the claims put forth for a migrancy that reroutes or revises
them’. Israel’s investigation into the perception and figuring of displacement

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comprises three case studies or ‘textual moments’: Conrad, Adorno, and Rushdie.
He analyses the imagined geography of Conrad’s ‘Amy Foster’, the ‘outlandishly
overdetermined’ Heart of Darkness, and the ‘exilic bildungsroman’ Lord Jim,
ponders Adorno in Los Angeles via Minima Moralia and the chapter on anti-
Semitism in Dialectic of Enlightenment, and reappraises Rushdie’s early fiction in
light of ‘the so-called Rushdie Affair’. The ramifications of Israel’s readings extend
to relationships between modernism and postmodernism and, beyond that, to
fundamental issues of representability and ‘the mutually constitutive complexity of
subjectivity, language, place, and history’.
The essays in Todd and Flora, eds., Theme Parks, Rainforests and Sprouting
Wastelands: European Essays on Theory and Performance in Contemporary British
Fiction, originated as conference papers delivered at the University of Glasgow in
1995.The field is British fiction since 1950, but there is no central theme or
dominant critical approach. Silvia Caporale Bizzini reads Jenny Diski’s Rainforest
with assistance from Roland Barthes; Catherine Bernard brings Michel Serres and
Maurice Blanchot to bear upon Bruce Chatwin’s work; Peter Conradi introduces
Lacan into his discussion of Angus Wilson’s theatricality; Avril Horner and Sue
Zlosnik’s consideration of Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchness draws on Homi
Bhabha. Three essays look at Doris Lessing; two are devoted to A.S. Byatt; other
authors under scrutiny include Michael Crichton, Salman Rushdie, Charles Palliser,
William Golding, and Angela Carter. Other essays tackle issues with which recent
writing has engaged such as myth, utopianism (including reference to the novels of
Margaret Elphinstone), historiographical metafiction, and the Victorian inheritance
of postmodern writing.
John Kucich and Diane F. Sadoff convened the cultural critics who contribute to
Victorian Afterlife in order to stimulate ‘discussion of postmodernism’s privileging
of the Victorian as its historical “other”’. John McGowan’s ‘Modernity and Culture,
the Victorians and Cultural Studies’ interrogates ‘the models of meaning,
knowledge, and the social that zeitgeist thinking implies’. He indicates how
‘“modernity” and “culture” between them organize a huge amount of our
intellectual landscape’. Jennifer Green-Lewis examines how current taste for
Victorian photography discloses postmodern desire. Shelton Waldrep examines
recent use made of Oscar Wilde in the media and academic discourse. Mary A.
Favret addresses issues of fidelity in modern adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels.
Susan Lurie considers film-maker Jane Campion’s revision of Henry James. Judith
Roof discerns a new kind of imperialism in the appropriation by computer interface
technology of Victorian exhibition and display techniques. Ian Baucom locates Paul
Muldoon’s poetry in relation to recent histories of the Famine and of Irish
emigration. Simon Gikandi considers C.L.R. James as a product of and adherent to
colonial Victorianism, transforming values of colonial conquest into foundational
narratives of black self-determination. William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s
‘steampunk’ novel The Difference Engine and Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia come
under Jay Clayton’s scrutiny as instances of anachronism transformed into a kind of
knowledge. Laurie Langbauer surveys recent feminist scholarship devoted to
nineteenth-century Britain. Hilary M. Schor examines A.S. Byatt’s ‘incarnation as a
Victorian’ in her fiction. Kali Israel considers the recurrence of Carroll’s Alice and
Nabokov’s Lolita in relation to current anxieties about the sexualized child. Ronald
R. Thomas assesses the significance of cinematic versions of Stoker’s Dracula.

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Nancy Armstrong’s postscript draws broad yet telling comparison between


Victorian and postmodern cultural horizons. Victorian Afterlife also has intriguing
implications for attempts to understand those years of the twentieth century that its
wide-ranging essays exclude from consideration.
After establishing the difficulty of pinning down ‘SF’ in a tidy formulation, Adam
Roberts, in Science Fiction, opts to focus upon ‘difference’ as a key defining aspect
of the genre. His contention is that ‘in societies such as ours where Otherness is
often demonised, SF can pierce the constraints of this ideology by circumventing the
conventions of traditional fiction’. Roberts outlines a history of science fiction that
harks back to Gilgamesh and Paradise Lost, assumes its modern guise with Verne
and Wells, and continues beyond Star Wars. He indicates significant issues of
gender and race that arise during engagement with science fiction texts, and
examines the metaphoric use of technology to figure alterity.
Malcolm Yorke’s Mervyn Peake: My Eyes Mint Gold is an enthusiastic and
solidly researched biography that charts key events in the life of the idiosyncratic
painter, illustrator, poet, playwright and novelist between his birth in 1911 and his
death in 1968. Not content simply to accumulate facts, anecdotes and recollections,
Yorke is keen to recognize stimuli for Peake’s art, especially for his Titus Groan
trilogy. The ‘enclosed world of privilege’ Peake experienced as the son of a
physician on missionary service in China is found to foreshadow the rarefied climate
of Gormenghast Castle. The fate of China’s boy emperor, held virtual captive then
forced to live as a private citizen, is perceived as parallel to the fate of Titus Groan.
Settings and names in Dickens’s novels, consumed by Peake as a boy, reverberated
into his own fictional world. A harrowing visit to Belsen necessarily deepened and
modified Peake’s awareness of the nature of evil and his approach to its depiction.
This commitment to detect immediate and remote influences may diminish the
book’s appeal for some readers, but it does help to ensure that the account remains
attentive to the terms and conditions of Peake’s artistic progress.
Stark, ed., The Novel in Anglo-German Context: Cultural Cross-Currents and
Affinities, collects papers given at a conference in Leeds in 1997. Its scope is broad,
but the key concern is cultural cross-fertilization. There are three main divisions,
corresponding to the last three centuries. ‘Eighteenth Century’ opens with Hermann
J. Real’s discussion of early German translations of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and
closes with Daniel Hall’s account of the spread of the ‘Gothic tide’ across the two
countries. ‘Nineteenth Century’ opens with Rosemary Ashton’s authoritative ‘The
Figure of the German Professor in Nineteenth-Century English Fiction’. Walter
Scott looms large in what follows. The section ends with Diane Milburn’s
uncovering of Anglo-German cross-currents in Stoker’s Dracula. ‘Twentieth
Century’ starts with Elmar Schenkel’s intriguing, and ostensibly unlikely, coupling
of G.K. Chesterton and Nietzsche. Andreas Kramer elucidates complexities of
nationality in Wyndham Lewis’s Tarr. Peter Skrine retrieves from obscurity The
Woman of Knockaloe, a novel of the First World War by the Manx writer Hall
Caine, dedicatee of Dracula. Holger Klein offers a survey in the form of notes
towards a comparative study of novels depicting diminished figures in urban
landscapes. J.M. Ritchie looks at writing by German and Austrian exiles in Britain.
Joachim Schwend homes in on stereotyped images of Germany in David Lodge’s
Out of the Shelter. Osman Durrani looks at ‘campus novels’. Ute Daprich-Barrett
identifies links between feminism and magical realism in fiction by Irmtraud

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Morgner and Angela Carter. Sabine Hotto’s discussion of fictional rewritings of


literary history draws on A.S. Byatt, Peter Ackroyd, Sigrid Damm, and Christa
Wolf. David Horrocks and David A. Green both trace parallels between Günter
Grass and Salman Rushdie. Gundula Sharman draws a more oblique line between
Goethe and John Banville. Harald Husemann examines fiction depicting German
invasion or infiltration of Britain. Two papers address the teaching of novels in
German and British schools. The volume accommodates contributions in both
languages, a brief English abstract preceding each essay in German. André Bucher’s
study of the German reception of Ulysses falls into this category.
Francis Mulhern’s lucid, useful volume Culture/Metaculture examines ‘“culture”
as a topic in twentieth-century debate’, paying critical attention to positions assumed
by practitioners of Kulturkritik such as Thomas Mann, Julian Benda, Ortega y
Gasset and F.R. Leavis, shapers of Cultural Studies such as Raymond Williams,
Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall, and contemporary participants such as Todd
Gitlin, Jim McGuigan and the controversial populist John Fiske. The important role
played by the study of literature in the formation of this discourse is repeatedly
highlighted, and the input of literary writers such as Woolf, Orwell, and Eliot is
made evident. Mulhern’s contribution to the debate argues that the ‘predominant
tendency’ of Cultural Studies (increasingly devoted to ‘the popular’) has been to
counter the specific social values of Kulturkritik (distrustful of the masses) ‘while
retaining their deep form’, coordinated around the terms ‘culture’, ‘authority’ and
‘politics’. Mulhern airs the question whether contemporary populism signals the
emergence of ‘organic intellectuals’ (as projected by Stuart Hall) or a proliferation
of fans and ‘bimbos’ (using Meaghan Morris’s dismissive term), and concludes by
identifying a persistent ‘utopian impulse’, in Cultural Studies as in Kulturkritik,
which seeks to reconcile culture and politics ‘by dissolving political reason itself’.
Many hours of assiduous research have evidently gone to the making of The Pub
In Literature: England’s Altered State. Steven Earnshaw undertakes ‘a crawl
through the drinking places of English literary history’, starting inevitably with
Chaucer’s Tabard inn. Most of the hostelries can be anticipated: the taverns and
alehouses of Langland, Skelton, Shakespeare, Pepys, Fielding, Goldsmith, and
Dickens. Twentieth-century examples are found on less well trodden byways: the
pubs of Arthur Morrison, A.E. Coppard, John Hampson and Patrick Hamilton. Eliot
and Orwell also feature and, with greater predictability, this ‘history of English
literature as seen through the bottom of a glass’ closes with Martin Amis’s London
Fields. Earnshaw endeavours to derive social-historical insights from these
drinking-houses and their manner of depiction. He raises issues of literary
decorousness, especially with regard to Ned Ward’s ribald late seventeenth-century
work The London Spy. English national identity and gender matters are also
addressed. The account grows appropriately congested, favouring discursive
affability above rigorous theoretical elaboration.
Pure Pleasure collects brief essays written for The Sunday Times by John Carey,
Merton Professor of English at Oxford University. A pithy defence of reading
prefaces his choice of the twentieth century’s fifty ‘most enjoyable books’, poetry as
well as prose, captured in snapshots designed to entice non-specialist browsers.
Constraints were imposed during the selection process: only one book per author
and roughly the same number representing each decade (although Keith Douglas’s
Alamein to Zem Zem is the sole volume from the 1940s). Carey starts with Conan

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Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles [1902], ‘one of the formative myths of the
century’, and ends with Graham Swift’s Last Orders [1996], a novel whose ‘hero is
the English language as spoken by ordinary people’. Some books merit inclusion on
account of their self-evident intelligence, others because they are haunting.
Canonical heavyweight texts are by and large avoided, although with rare
exceptions, such as William Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity, the list holds few
surprises. Media pundit Clive James is present but there is no Proust or Faulkner; the
work of both writers falls into the category of books which Carey dislikes or has not
been able to finish. A short concluding report dips into the correspondence Carey
received from readers of the newspaper. For academic readers, Pure Pleasure will
immediately offer itself as a case study in humanistic values and the formation of
literary taste.
Elizabeth Rottenberg has translated Maurice Blanchot’s brief, intense literary
narrative The Instant of My Death [1994]. It is accompanied by Demeure: Fiction
and Testimony, her translation of Jacques Derrida’s subtle musings upon Blanchot,
literature, and testimony, initially delivered at a colloquium in Louvain in 1995. A
short postscript presents Derrida’s prickly riposte to ‘rantings’ against him
published in the Times Literary Supplement.

(b) Irish
Criticism of Irish literature has been transforming over the past decade, becoming
more exploratory, expanding its canon, and beginning to theorize itself. It is
tempting to see Declan Kiberd’s Irish Classics, a monumental follow-up to
Inventing Ireland, as the major publication of the year. But in the longer term it may
be the millennial originality of Mathews, ed., New Voices in Irish Criticism, which
signifies the real changes taking place within the discipline. The book is a collection
of papers from the first New Voices in Irish Criticism conference, held in 1999. The
conference, brought about under the academic sponsorship of Declan Kiberd and
Edna Longley, recognized a logjam which had developed in access to any public
forum for doctoral students. The ‘new voices’ collected here are a disparate but
energetic collection, covering old topics in new ways and in some cases pushing into
entirely new areas of study. The literary revival, that staple foundational movement
of the twentieth century, is given a fresh look in an excellent section on ‘Politics and
Revival’, which includes the editor P.J. Mathews’s essay, ‘The Irish Revival: A Re-
appraisal’ which is ‘pitched against the orthodoxy that the period was a purely
mystical affair of high culture characterised by a preoccupation with a backward-
looking Celtic spirituality, a nostalgia for Gaelic Ireland and an obsessive anti-
modern traditionalism’ (p. 12). Gregory Dobbins interlinks the writings of James
Connolly with those of the literary revival to argue that ‘Connolly’s work provides
a critical wedge in which there is the desire to dialectically progress beyond into
something else’ (p. 12). And Selina Guinness’s essay, ‘The Year of the Undead:
1898’, considers the commemoration of the United Irishmen’s rebellion of 1798 as
a time ‘when the discourse of revival was caught in one frame between two
supernatural images, the phoenix and the vampiric Cathleen’ (p. 27). The sense of
thinking anew, and the restless desire to find new ways of seeing the formation of
Irish literary discourse, apparent in these three essays find echoes in other chapters
of this substantial and important book. Kathy Cremin, for example, in her essay
‘Satisfaction Guaranteed? Reading Irish Women’s Popular Fiction’, sees popular

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fiction by and for women as marking the ‘changed status of women in Irish society
and history’ against ‘Ireland’s historical construction as a feminised and maternal
nation’ (p. 83). Moynagh Sullivan takes a wider view of a similar set of theoretical
concerns about gender in her subtle and convincing essay ‘Feminism,
Postmodernism and the Subjects of Irish and Women’s Studies’, which identifies
how Irish studies has salved its conscience about the role of women, as participants
and signifiers, within its own boundaries, by ‘“quarantining” … women’s writing
into a separate space, and into a sub-category’ (p. 250). Such confidence in not
accepting the limits set by the discipline in which the contributors are ‘new voices’
makes this book the most refreshing intervention in Irish studies for many years.
The dynamic energies of the New Voices project will take some time to filter into
the wider language and interests of criticism of twentieth-century Irish literary
studies. While New Voices was creating an academic space for those entering the
field, Declan Kiberd’s Irish Classics fascinatingly continued the popular success of
Inventing Ireland, showing that, in Ireland and beyond, there is a market outside the
academy for well-written, accessible and opinionated Irish literary criticism. The
main thesis of Irish Classics is that the fortunes of the Irish and English languages
in Ireland ‘were utterly connected over more than five centuries, for all the
antagonism between them’ (p. xi). The book’s examination of twentieth-century
writing includes chapters on Lady Gregory and Synge’s The Aran Islands, and an
excellent chapter on Joyce’s Ulysses and newspapers. At times, especially with the
twentieth-century material, Kiberd’s conviction that there was a ceaseless interplay
across the two linguistic traditions can seem a little forced. Irish Classics also knows
and uses its own power to gently irritate by seeming to set up a canon of ‘classic’
texts only to be idiosyncratic in its choices and absurdly selective in its coverage,
while also being very long. Nevertheless, Kiberd at his best is a great writer of
critical prose, and his own form of quiet comedy is often underestimated by his
detractors. Irish Classics struggles a little to achieve coherence, and because of that,
and its twining of the two languages, it may not gain the status which Inventing
Ireland has. In many ways, though, it is a much more provocative book, and time
will tell whether its central linguistic thesis is taken up with more seriousness by
scholars following on from Kiberd.
Two important reference books for Irish literary studies appeared in 2000. Useful
for students is Welch, ed., The Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature,
which is a pared-down version of the previous Oxford Companion to Irish
Literature [1996]. Also for a student market, but with an implicit critical agenda of
how the shape of twentieth-century Irish literature should look, is David Pierce, ed.,
Irish Writing in the Twentieth Century: A Reader. This anthology, divided into
sections by decade and running to 1,351 pages, sets out to provide students with a
comprehensive range of Irish texts while remaining within the student budget.
Given that only the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing [1991] has such a vast
array of material and is priced beyond what the average reader could afford, the
book is well timed and carefully conceived. Irish Writing in the Twentieth Century
has an admirable agenda which is in the most basic of senses ‘historicist’. Its broadly
chronological ordering is complemented by the ‘Critical and Documentary’ and
‘Imaginative’ sections into which each decade’s-worth of writing is split. The first
of these sections tends to be the more useful. Pierce often makes choices which
succinctly draw together and exemplify the major debates taking place. The section

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on the first ten years of the twentieth century, for example, has extracts from
Standish James O’Grady, Yeats, Arthur Griffith, Synge, John Eglinton and
Frederick Ryan. The cumulative effect is to give an eclectic sense of relatively
shared terms of dispute and interest, though occasionally one would wish that Pierce
had chosen to follow particular debates rather than throw the net so wide. The
advantage here is that Pierce always has an eye on the literary in the context of
cultural politics. The fact that he never loses sight of Irish America’s contribution to
Irish debates is an important reminder to students and readers of the often forgotten
diasporic nature of cultural exchange about Ireland. The anthology’s ‘Imaginative’
sections are again judicious in their material, though they suffer from their necessary
brevity, so that extracts of novels only are included. The two most obvious
omissions from the book, much commented on by reviewers, are, first, the missing
sections from Joyce’s Ulysses, which were physically excised due to a copyright
dispute with the Joyce estate, and, second, its relative dearth of women writers
(replicating, though not by any means to the same extent, the lack of attention to
women’s writing in the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing).
In terms of broad critical and theoretical assessments of twentieth-century Irish
writing, one of the most notable books of the year was Conor McCarthy’s
Modernisation, Crisis and Culture in Ireland, 1969–1992. The execution and
content of the book are perhaps not quite so comprehensive as the title suggests they
might be, but nevertheless McCarthy’s overall thesis is that ‘modernisation’ is not
anathema to the concept of nation, since the ideology of nation ‘draws on
Enlightenment ideas of progress, liberation, co-operation and equality’ (p. 17).
McCarthy makes this argument because he feels the credibility of Irish nationalism
to have been under an intellectual cloud. His villains are revisionist historians and
critics, though to his credit McCarthy does try to map revisionism as a pervasive set
of ideas which have affected thinking in general rather than a position to which
allegiances have been explicitly pledged (his final chapter on ‘Intellectual Politics:
Edna Longley and Seamus Deane’ perhaps edges closer to ad hominem criticism
than is necessary). The main chapters of the book are incisive, though in their
coverage of writers such as John Banville, Brian Friel and Dermot Bolger (and film-
makers Neil Jordan, Bob Quinn and Pat Murphy in a single chapter) there was an
opportunity missed to broaden out McCarthy’s social and conceptual concerns
beyond the work of individuals and into generic and social change. This
modernizing Ireland might have been better depicted by allowing for a broader
brush.
John Banville, a figure rightly placed as central to Irish writing and intellectual
life in McCarthy’s book, is also discussed by Joseph McMinn in his essay ‘Versions
of Banville: Versions of Modernism’ (in Harte and Parker, eds., Contemporary Irish
Fiction: Themes, Tropes, Theories). McMinn’s essay interestingly suggests that
Banville’s prose techniques begin with a formally modernist aesthetic, but play out
in their own characters the extension of this style to a point at which Banville’s
central personae, ‘such as Newton, Kepler and Copernicus might be read as
unwitting, even unwilling deconstructionists’ (p. 86). The argument of McMinn’s
essay then takes a useful turn towards gender issues and tries to untangle the threads
of novelist and narrator to show that there is ‘a self-critical kind of misogyny within
Banville’s fiction’ (p. 95). Other essays in the same book include Antoinette
Quinn’s ‘New Noises from the Woodshed: The Novels of Emma Donoghue’, which

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gives much-needed attention to an important Irish woman writer, and Richard


Kirkland’s ‘Bourgeois Redemptions: The Fictions of Glenn Patterson and Robert
McLiam Wilson’, which is by far the most sophisticated critique yet of these ‘new’
Northern Irish novelists. The originality in Kirkland’s take on these novelists is in
not automatically celebrating their young liberal credentials but in seeing their
narratives as caught in the world which they satirize: ‘bourgeois fiction often
constructs a site of ideology—understood strictly as false consciousness—against
which the formal structures of the work rebel’ (p. 217). Such scepticism about the
role of the novelist in Northern Irish society is echoed in Richard Haslam’s essay,
‘“The Pose Arranged and Lingered Over”: Visualizing the “Troubles”’ (also in
Harte and Parker, eds.). Haslam begins with William Carleton’s ‘Wild Goose
Lodge’ as a model for Irish depiction of political violence, noting how Carleton’s
story falls back on the pictorial to render terror fictional, and he then goes on to
discuss Bernard MacLaverty’s Cal and Eoin MacNamee’s Resurrection Man in the
same terms. Haslam ends with what sound like harsh words for MacNamee’s much-
lauded novel: ‘Resurrection Man is undeniably an innovative and technically
accomplished work. However, by refracting the actions and beliefs of the Shankill
Butchers through the lens of “a dark and thrilling beauty”, the novel does further
violence to the Butchers’ real-life victims’ (p. 208). This is ethically opinionated
criticism, which is refreshing in its frankness and its refusal to be swept away by the
shock value of MacNamee’s novel.
MacNamee’s Resurrection Man is also discussed in Dermot McCarthy’s essay
‘Belfast Babel: Postmodern Lingo in Eoin MacNamee’s Resurrection Man’ (IUR
30:i[2000] 132–48): this entire issue of Irish University Review was devoted to
contemporary Irish fiction. McCarthy begins his discussion with the kind of anxiety
about the novel which ends Haslam’s essay: ‘What’s the point of such self-
conscious self-promotion?’ (p. 132). McCarthy, however, finds himself eventually
convinced that MacNamee’s novel need not be read in the morally resistant way that
Haslam’s reading comes around to. Instead, McCarthy suggests that MacNamee
himself recognizes that the central character, Victor, is ‘empty, ephemeral, and
disposable, divorced from the referents of community, history, and historical
identity’ (p. 148). Other articles in this special issue include Anne Fogarty’s
‘Uncanny Families: Neo-Gothic Motifs and the Theme of Social Change in
Contemporary Irish Women’s Fiction’ (IUR 30:i[2000] 59–81). Fogarty notes that
recent criticism has accepted the prominence of women in Irish fiction, and
discusses a series of contemporary novels in order to consider ‘the ways in which
their texts respond to and are embedded in the prevailing public debates about the
recent revolutionary and unprecedented alterations in Irish society’ (p. 62).
Criticism of Irish drama was given a new lease of life in 2000 by the advent of a
new, indigenous theatre studies press, Carysfort. One of it first publications is
Jordan, ed., Theatre Stuff: Critical Essays on Contemporary Irish Theatre. Theatre
Stuff is a much-needed and lively collection of interventions which, taken as a
whole, see theatre in Ireland as more than a literary enterprise. The book is a useful
mixture of essays which discuss individual playwrights and more general surveys of
particular aspects of theatre. Fintan O’Toole, in ‘Irish Theatre: The State of the Art’,
and Bruce Arnold, in ‘The State of Irish Theatre’, both offer surveys of the current
health of the theatre in Ireland and both end on relatively upbeat notes which suggest
that the stifling shackles of the necessity for a primarily national theatre are being

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finally shaken off. Lionel Pilkington’s essay in the volume, ‘Theatre History and the
Beginnings of the Irish National Theatre’, argues that we might go back in history
and revise our ideas of how the idea of ‘national’ theatre began. Pilkington argues
that the foundational claim that ‘no Irish theatre existed prior to 1899’ (p. 27) is
increasingly being shown to be untrue, and that this in itself is a piece of national
myth-making by those central to the National Theatre/Abbey project early in the
twentieth century. The consequence of believing the Abbey’s self-fashioning,
Pilkington suggests, is ‘the presumption that indigenous theatre in Ireland begins in
1899’ and this leads to ‘the imposition of an artificial insularity on Irish theatre
history and the exclusion of the dramatic canon of a working-class and popular
theatre tradition’ (p. 27). Theatre Stuff is an excellent guide to the state of Irish
theatre today—it mixes practitioners with academics and critics, and it holds out the
promise of more exciting work to come from Carysfort Press.
Contemporary drama is also the subject of Mária Kurdi’s Codes and Masks:
Aspects of Identity in Contemporary Irish Plays in an Intercultural Context. The
book is a welcome attempt to examine Irish drama as a whole, at least as a writing
enterprise. It suffers a little from a continual insistence on the secure and certain
post-coloniality of Ireland, and too many plays are crudely related back to this
model while it is simultaneously apparent that they are straining to be allowed to say
more through Kurdi’s interpretation. However, on the plus side, Kurdi reads Stewart
Parker’s plays with great insight and it is good also to see Donal O’Kelly and Anne
Devlin taken seriously alongside more established figures such as Brian Friel and
Tom Murphy.
The work of J.M. Synge is assessed in Grene, ed., Interpreting Synge: Essays
from the Synge Summer School, 1991–2000. Grene has brought together in this
volume a collection of papers by extraordinarily distinguished speakers from the
summer school. Grene’s own essay, ‘On the Margins: Synge and Wicklow’
discusses in succession Synge’s family connections with Wicklow, his essays on
Wicklow, and then the use of Wicklow settings and references in the play, ending by
showing how Synge was not cowed before the particularity of place: ‘he saw the
Wicklow which his imagination needed to see. Authenticity in this context has to be
considered an irrelevant or discredited criterion’ (p. 40). Among many other
excellent essays (particularly those by R.F. Foster and Ann Saddlemyer) is
Christopher Morash’s ‘All Playboys Now: The Audience and the Riot’, which is a
superb reconstruction of the most famous controversy in the history of Irish theatre,
the riots during the first performances of Synge’s Playboy of the Western World.
Morash retells the story with wit, detail and a marvellous facility for
reinterpretation.
Sean O’Casey’s language is the subject of Colbert Kearney’s The Glamour of
Grammar: Orality and Politics and the Emergence of Sean O’Casey. Kearney
writes in the belief that ‘an oral culture extending back into prehistory continued to
flourish in inner-city Dublin at least as late as the early decades of this century’ (p.
xi). Kearney writes about O’Casey and about Dublin with a real passion, and a belief
that the place and its working-class inhabitants have been under-represented in
literary and cultural terms. While this is in many ways true, there are times when
Kearney allows belief to cloud judgement, and his idea that ancient oral culture
survives in remnants in urban Dublin, whether right or not, suggests a need for
essentialist values rather than a reading of O’Casey’s socialism.

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Among books on George Bernard Shaw published in 2000 was Bernard F.


Dukore’s Shaw’s Theatre, a monograph which details Shaw’s theatre practices in
excellently conceived detail. It is especially good when discussing Shaw as director;
suddenly the playwright comes to life as a theatrical thinker. The third part of the
book, ‘The Theater in Bernard Shaw’s Drama’ is slightly disappointing, given that
it runs through a series a plays picking out moments of theatrical interest and
moving towards being a reading of Shaw’s metatheatricality. But overall Shaw’s
Theatre is a very useful guide to Shaw’s theatrical practice and thought.

2. Pre-1945 Fiction

(a) The English Novel, 1900–1930


Issues of empire and women’s writing remain of central interest this year, but two
general points are worth noting. History, both as a context for textual discussion and
as an alternative discourse, is mounting a strong challenge to the primacy of literary
theory, and discussions of genre fiction are moving even closer to mainstream
concerns.
Nicholas Daly’s Modernism, Romance and the Fin de Siècle: Popular Fiction
and British Culture, 1880–1914 is an interesting example of both these
developments. He brings a fresh perspective to the interrogation of the realist/
modernist, high/low cultural divide by privileging the role of tales of masculine
adventure in the development of the novel at the turn of the century and argues that,
properly understood, romance was ‘culturally central’ in the way in which it offered
‘its readers a species of popular theory of social change’ (p. 117). This in itself is not
a new field, but the structure of Daly’s book, its range of material, and his
confidence in handling issues of colonialism and masculinity convey a wide and
vibrant picture of the turn-of-the-century literary community. His inclusion of the
Irish Revival in this context, for instance, is very welcome, although the history and
literary context almost drown out the individual texts in this chapter. On the other
hand, the discussion of Ernest Hemingway breaks Daly’s cultural and period frame
without any great benefit and tends to leave the interesting final chapter, which
surveys and analyses the relation between action novels and early cinema, as a rather
stranded coda.
Sue Sims, Hilary Clare and Robert J. Kirkpatrick bring another genre, children’s
school stories, to the foreground in (Aucmuty and Wotton, eds.) The Encyclopaedia
of Girls’ School Stories and The Encyclopaedia of Boys’ School Stories. These two
companion volumes contribute to the growing interest in children’s literature and its
relationship to mainstream culture by attempting to systematize and, to some extent,
evaluate the popular school story genre. Both encyclopedias have dates which
extend outside this period, covering the late 1700s to 1999, but all the editors locate
the early twentieth century as the golden age of school stories. A substantial part of
the text is A–Z entries of writers, but in addition there are fourteen short
commentaries with bibliographies of connected topics, including brief listings of
annuals and girls’ school story papers as well as narrow sub-sets of the main topic,
such as convent stories and pony school stories, or, in the case of boys’ stories, ‘real
schools’ and ‘red circle school’. By the editors’ own confession their volumes are
not comprehensive and the organization is more than a little arbitrary—a

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compromise accepted in their mission to put school stories on the literary map.
These shortcomings are more than outweighed by the value of this material being
put at last into the public domain. Readers who are interested in the methodological
problems posed by compiling these encyclopedias should read Rosemary
Auchmuty, ‘The Encyclopaedia: Origins and Organisation’ and Hilary Clare,
‘Lifting the Veil: Researching the Lives of Girls’ School Story Writers’ (Children’s
Literature in Education, 31:iii[2000] 147–58 and 159–65).
Detective fiction is another genre which continues to fascinate critics, and this
year is no exception. Detective Fiction and the Rise of Forensic Science by Ronald
R. Thomas does not fall comfortably into one literary period, but it is necessary
reading since Thomas provides such a fascinating and informative context for the
flowering of this distinctive Edwardian genre. He traces the change from ‘character’
to ‘identity’ as a variable political agenda made possible by the rise of photography,
anthropology and fingerprinting, and mirrored in the evolution of detective fiction in
America and Britain. He ranges the work and practice of contemporary
criminologists such as Havelock Ellis, Francis Galton, Gina Lombroso-Ferrero and
Charles Goring alongside the novels of Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Conan
Doyle and Joseph Conrad in Britain and Edgar Allen Poe, Dashiell Hammett, and
Mark Twain in America. There are several reasons why this book is particularly
valuable to early twentieth-century studies. One is the way in which Thomas
brilliantly conveys the power that science and technology came to exert over the
literary imagination and how it appeared to offer an answer to the imponderables of
fin-de-siècle and post-1900 doubts and indirections. Secondly, Thomas’s argument
sweeps up a hundred years of detective novels, cutting across the tired
categorization of modernism, popular fiction, genre and high art to demonstrate
writers’ vigour and creativity in responding to the intellectual challenges of their
times. Detective fiction is assuming greater importance in literary studies from year
to year, but Thomas raises the stakes, claiming that ‘even if we accept some list of
essential characteristics by which to define a genre we designate as “detective
fiction,” the historical forces that brought the form into being have found their way
(more or less) into virtually every other kind of literature in the period as well’ (pp.
288–9). Thomas’s argument certainly illuminates many of the early twentieth-
century literary concerns with race, science, society, human value and the integrity
of the personality, as well as issues of literary form and value. Only gender seems
untouched by a scientific and literary communality which still unquestioningly
gendered crime as masculine.
Joseph A. Kestner, The Edwardian Detective, 1901–1915, has a much narrower
focus. The highlighting of the distinctiveness of this period and the close
examination of thirty well-known, neglected, canonical and popular detective
novels, including works by G.K. Chesterton, John Buchan, Joseph Conrad,
Baroness Orczy, Robert Barr, Conan Doyle and many others, are intended to
demonstrate the vigour of Edwardian fiction and the immediacy of its engagement
with society. Kestner opens the book and each of the three chronological sections
with potted histories and lists of ‘important’ events grouped (apparently) randomly
into paragraphs. The selected texts are then explored in the light of these historical
‘facts’. This method leads to considerable repetition and a sense of overstated
argument, which ultimately renders rather thin Kestner’s straightforward and

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worthwhile aim to demonstrate detective fiction as the ‘enduring index’ of the


Edwardian age.
Robert Kuhn McGregor’s and Ethan Lewis’s latest contribution to Sayers studies,
Conundrums for the Long Week-End: England, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Lord Peter
Wimsey, is rather bland. Read as an introduction to the body of Wimsey novels, this
book is acceptable. It makes its way chronologically and diligently through the
works, offering summaries, contextual information and some historical and/or
biographical analysis of each of the novels. But the approach is critically innocent,
and there are too many occasions when the mingling of Sayers’s own life with her
fictional creations, Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, stops being interestingly
mischievous speculation and starts being naive cross-association. A particular
problem for the British reader is the way in which the authors have organized the
historical context in small parcels of information spread through the book like short
history lessons: summaries of the First World War, the decline of the aristocracy
and, particularly, the General Strike of 1926 feel packaged and lacking in empathy.
Consequently, the ‘England’ of the title never becomes more than a series of
historical events in a way that would enlighten readers on either side of the Atlantic.
However, the authors’ greatest failure is in allowing Wimsey to become more
important than Sayers’s achievement in creating a detective for her times. Sayers’s
reputation shrinks as a result—her talent limited to writing bits of her life and
immediate context into a series of pleasant novels.
A more general survey of the period and one which is not focused on genre is
Hapgood and Paxton, eds., Outside Modernism (also reviewed in section 1(a)
above). The first of the two introductory essays considers early twentieth-century
fiction in terms of transformative continuity, while the second considers the
modernist agenda through an examination of current scholarship. Within this
framework, the essays investigate the boundaries of realism and modernism and the
stability of literary categories in the work of well-known but neglected writers such
as John Galsworthy and G.K. Chesterton, war writers such as Frederic Manning, and
women writers such as Rebecca West, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Maud Diver.
G.K. Chesterton has already earned two mentions this year. Does this suggest the
green shoots of a revival? As always, it is hard to say. James V. Schall, in Schall on
Chesterton: Timely Essays on Timeless Paradoxes, makes no claim to contribute to
Chesterton’s literary achievement but simply records his responses to Chesterton’s
regular column in The London Illustrated News between 1905 and 1931. This is
Chesterton at one remove. Even so, Schall’s fascination with Chesterton does rub
off and tempts the reader back not only to his journalism, but also to the fiction and
poetry, so briefly dealt with here in ‘Second Thoughts on Detective Stories’, ‘The
Invisible Man’ and ‘A Picture of “Tuesday”’. We must be grateful to Catholic
publishing houses and scholars for keeping Chesterton’s work in the public domain;
one hopes that it will also bring Chesterton to the wider literary community.
Mark Knight, in ‘Chesterton and the Problem of Evil’ (L&T 14:iv[2000] 373–84),
straddles theological and literary concerns. He responds to charges against
Chesterton of a wilful optimism by considering his attitude to evil through a
discussion of the play, The Surprise [1932] and his writings on the book of Job
[1907] in the light of the Free Will Defence, whose status as theodicy or defence was
itself at the centre of theological debate. He argues that Chesterton’s personal
recognition that ‘life could only be explained by taking the middle ground between

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reason and mystery’ (p. 382) is made possible through his art and notably through
the metaphorical and allegorical exuberance of The Man Who Was Thursday [1908].
In contrast, Elmar Schenkel focuses on Nietzschean ideas (i.e. how Nietzsche’s
work was understood and used by British thinkers and writers) and their impact on
Chesterton’s writing, in ‘Paradoxical Affinities: Chesterton and Nietzsche’ (in
Stark, ed., pp. 241–51). Ideas of Superman, of unlimited growth, of strength and of
eternal recurrence, and rejection of history were ideas Chesterton detested but which
he used to test out his own beliefs in a way that Schenkel claims demonstrates ‘a
deep love-hate relationship, a revealing symmetry’ (p. 247). He argues that the
common ground lay in a shared intellectual iconoclasm—a recognition of the power
of apparent unreasonableness, their rejection of systematically organized thought—
although their philosophical ends were different.
Paula M. Krebs, Gender, Race, and the Writing of Empire: Public Discourse and
the Boer War [1999] is an important contribution to the study of this period and
brings us to one if its continuing concerns—issues of empire. Krebs raises pertinent
and provocative questions about the literary production of works about the war, and
offers illuminating readings of Olive Schreiner and the so-called writers of empire,
Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard and Rudyard Kipling. Conan Doyle is set against
W.T. Stead in a debate about the sexual honour of the British soldier; H. Rider
Haggard, acclaimed as an expert for his knowledge of and romances about Africa,
resisted being transformed from romance writer to South Africa war correspondent,
while Kipling, famous for his stories and poems of the Indian Raj, was successfully
co-opted as defender of the empire in the press, but never succeeds in making South
Africa part of his own imaginative landscape. Set against these three friends is Olive
Schreiner, whose nationality gave her the authority to interpret South Africa for the
British and whose intellectual struggles to plot a future for South Africa’s ethnic
groups and their layers of colonial masters makes fascinating reading. However,
Krebs’s argument is most stimulating in the questions it raises about the hybrid
social, political and cultural identity of upper-class men whose bestseller status in
the fiction stakes won them public trust and an authoritative platform in the
traditional newspapers and newly emerging popular press. This is probably the
earliest example of what has become a feature of national and international crises in
the modern world, and Krebs’s discussion suggests a new infrastructure for
understanding the nature of literary production during this period.
Which brings us to Kipling, who continues to command considerable critical
attention. Kipling emerges from Don Randall’s study Kipling’s Imperial Boy:
Adolescence and Cultural Hybridity as a subtly nuanced and responsible writer
responding creatively and diversely to the drama of British and Indian relations in
the second half of the nineteenth century. Randall takes what he calls ‘liminal boys’
in Kipling’s work as figures of transitional identity whose function is ‘to negotiate
the contact zones of empire’ (p. 160) in the post-Mutiny period, and to explore the
cultural hybridity that might result from these unions. A lengthy chapter entitled
‘Genealogy of the Imperial Boy’ sets up an impressive context for understanding the
plasticity of adolescent identity and therefore its importance as a site of change.
Randall’s focus on the adolescent also incidentally contributes to interest in the child
as subject and as reader noted elsewhere. The Jungle Books [1894], Stalky and Co.
[1899], and Kim [1901] are given equal weight in a discussion which is
unencumbered by attempts to define their status in terms of their assumed readership

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or to dismiss the child as subject as childish matter. Stalky and Co. emerges
particularly strongly from this approach, dropping its ‘boys’ school story’ tag to be
located firmly in Kipling’s own literary and political development. In fact, an
underlying theme of the discussion is Kipling’s growing skill in finding forms which
allowed the interplay of ambiguities and resistances contingent on the imperialist
project to flourish within a stable vision of empire. This is a satisfyingly argued
book that takes into consideration an impressive range of critical approaches
(sometimes overladen with current jargon) which also has a confident and
convincing belief in the value of Kipling’s work.
Andrew St John’s excellent and informative article, ‘“In the Year ’57”:
Historiography, Power, and Politics in Kipling’s Punjab’ (RES 51[2000] 62–79),
brings together colonial history, British literary history and the recovery of a
neglected piece of Kipling’s writing to illuminate the development of Kipling’s
aesthetic. Using an uncollected two-part article called ‘In the Year of ’57’ written by
Kipling and published in the Civil and Military Gazette in 1887, St John explores the
narrator’s attempt to reconcile the ‘rugged, inchoate textuality’ of pre-Mutiny, non-
regulated administration in the Punjab with the ‘systematic, “theoretical” approach
to the historical material’ of the post-Mutiny, utilitarian, centralized government of
India (p. 75). Insights into the nature of Kipling’s own aesthetic gleaned from this
clash of political and linguistic styles are then applied to Plain Tales From the Hills
and, briefly, to Kim. In ‘Three Ways of Going Wrong: Kipling, Conrad, Coetzee’
(MLR 95:i[2000] 18–27), Douglas Kerr explores the dilemma for colonial rulers of
balancing knowledge of the colonized with the necessary assertion of a pure national
identity and its changing emphasis from the early twentieth century to the post-
colonial perspectives of late twentieth-century South Africa. Kipling’s ‘Beyond the
Pale’ and ‘To be Filed for Reference’ from Plain Tales from the Hills [1888] and
Conrad’s Heart of Darkness [1902] all explore the fates of European men who
transgress racial boundaries, and therefore national codes, and whose stories are
related by a fascinated narrator in what Kerr calls ‘the relationship between outlaw
and lawman’ (p. 24). This relationship is defamiliarized in Coetzee’s Waiting for the
Barbarians [1982], but most crucially made current and unfinished by Coetzee’s use
of the present tense. Kerr’s juxtaposition of these texts reopens both Kipling and
Conrad to history’s immediacy rather than its pastness.
Angela K. Smith is the latest contributor to the current interest in women’s
writing and the First World War with her two companion volumes, one anthology
and one of criticism. Her anthology, Women’s Writing of the First World War (also
reviewed in section 1(a) above), is a brave and mostly successful attempt to weave
a narrative of the war from a series of extracts representing a range of women and
literary forms and comprising divergent opinions. The material is broken up into
familiar sections: ‘The Battle Front’, ‘The Home Front’ and so on, and Smith draws
on a high proportion of well-known names whose published works are relatively,
even easily accessible, such as Beatrice Webb, Vera Brittain, the Pankhursts and
Radclyffe Hall, but her choice of material is excellent, its positioning interesting and
enlightening, and its literary value clearly an important criterion. The evenness of
tone that helps to make the anthology coherent and readable from beginning to end
(an unusual achievement) has its downside. Most of the extracts were written by
highly intelligent, educated, even upper-class British women—indeed one of the
successes of the book is the sense it conveys of how the war was a forcing-house for

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such women. The occasional shifts of tone introduced by extracts such as G.K.
Brumwell’s short article ‘The Masseuse’, take the reader pleasantly by surprise, but
they are all too infrequent.
Smith’s companion volume, The Second Battlefield (also reviewed in section 1(a)
above), is broad in scope and generous in its sympathies. Its chief interest is the
range of works she discusses, and the lucid way in which she illuminates the
interactions between women’s lives, war history and literary struggle. Each chapter
produces a new perspective for the reader. I particularly enjoyed the chapters
‘Private to Public’, which examines how women drew on their diaries and letters to
create novels, sometimes many years later, and ‘Living Words’, which includes a
discussion of Evadne Price’s answer to Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western
Front, and the examination of the literary and emotional triangle which juxtaposes
H.D.’s Bid Me To Live with Richard Aldington’s Death of a Hero. By the end of the
book she has persuasively argued and demonstrated the ‘empowered status of
women as writers’. This makes it all the more surprising that she attempts to hook
these insights into a tenuous argument about modernism, which by the end of the
book I felt she had lost interest in herself. Smith calls one chapter ‘Accidental
Modernisms’ and another ‘Female Modernisms’, diluting the term to virtual
uselessness by implicitly claiming that any writing which reconfigures conventions
and/or re-examines the function of writing under the stress of the new must
necessarily be modernist. Nothing could be further from the truth, as she herself
demonstrates through the political radicalism and intimate engagement with the
imperatives of reality that many of these texts amply reveal.
It is refreshing to turn from war to friendship and to consider representations of
women’s friendship and rivalries in the inter-war years in Diana Wallace, Sisters
and Rivals in British Women’s Fiction, 1814–1939. Wallace sets herself the
considerable task of analysing the novels through the different perspectives of the
social and political context, modern feminist theory and biographical and textual
analysis. The first and second sections construct two parallel histories. The first is
social and political: it provides clear and interesting information to suggest the force
and range of the public debates about women which shaped her chosen novelists,
May Sinclair, Rebecca West, Vera Brittain, Winifred Holtby and Rosamond
Lehmann. The second deals with the development of feminist theory, highlighting
those aspects—mainly Freudian-inspired psychoanalytical approaches—she thinks
enable understanding, and stressing that their importance lies in their diversity. A
chapter is then devoted to each writer, who is placed in terms of literary history,
biographical influences, and their treatment of the central theme of friendship and
rivalry. This seemingly rigid division of material actually works extremely well.
Within each chapter Wallace offers a range of arguments and perspectives so that
the cumulative effect is admirably open-ended. Much has been written about women
writers at the turn of the century and this book is particularly well timed in extending
discussion past the First World War into the 1920s and 1930s.
In her edition of the Selected Letters of Rebecca West, Bonnie Kime Scott claims
that the letters reveal West ‘as a defining intellect of the twentieth century’. Rather
disappointingly, they do not do this. The promise of at least some of the vast body
of letters she wrote was that they would reveal an intellectual trajectory, a sense of
literary mission, a possible coherence over the sixty or more years of her career. It is
difficult to judge whether Kime Scott missed an opportunity, or whether her subject

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simply made it difficult for her: West did not use her letters for intellectual or
literary interchange, and reveals herself in an increasingly negative light as the years
pass. Despite her latter-day public status and her continual engagement in public
affairs, these letters seem a shrunken version of the Rebecca West we would hope to
meet. Kime had a daunting task, but her sectional introductions do not help the
reader to understand the nature of West’s apparent defensiveness: they are
contextual rather than interpretative. Kime’s (or her editor’s) decision to footnote
the letters is less than ideal. It might have been more helpful to preface each letter
with its context and dramatis personae, leaving editorial decisions and minor
references to the footnotes. Whatever its limitations, this collection is important not
only in furthering West studies (the more material in the public domain the better)
but in filling out the picture of what it meant to be a woman writer in the early
decades of the twentieth century.
Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Salutation, introduction by Claire Harman, is a
collection of fifteen of Townsend Warner’s unpublished or long out-of-print short
stories. As such it is part of the steady re-evaluation of Warner’s work and a
welcome contribution to that most valuable part of literary recovery—putting a wide
range of an author’s work into the public domain. Claire Harman stakes the value of
the collection on the title story ‘The Salutation’, and most of the introduction is
taken up by an interesting discussion of that unpublished writing and its relationship
with Warner’s novel Mr Fortune’s Maggot, published three years previously in
1927. I think Harman could usefully have included bibliographical information
about the other stories. Why choose to republish ‘deliberately trivial’ or ‘heavily
derivative’ stories without locating them in their literary context? However, it is no
bad thing for a modern reader to confront these stories freshly, and what emerges
clearly is that they are chiefly concerned with style: with clarity of observation,
precision of language and simplicity of structure. Warner captures moments of
importance in ordinary lives with an unerring touch, and throughout she is capable
of bringing a picture into sharp focus with the simplest of images: ‘[her] slumbers
ranged from the slight gauze of inattention suitable for sermons, to the quilted
oblivion fit for a winter’s night’ (p. 17).
It is always hard to predict what Wellsian scholarship will produce: this year it is
A.B. McKillop’s The Spinster and the Prophet: A Tale of H.G. Wells, Plagiarism
and the History of the World. McKillop unashamedly goes for the narrative and
treads a fine line between historical accuracy and imaginatively coloured
assumptions and speculations in his account of the Deeks v. Wells case, in which
Florence Deeks sued H.G. Wells for plagiarism in a series of court cases between
1927 and 1933. The interleaving of the stories of Deeks and Wells over the years
from the mid-1880s to the conclusion of the case presents Florence as another of
Wells’s women whom he could use and then set aside. This is a fascinating
unravelling of an episode in the life of a famous man of letters in his sixties, and
makes riveting reading. But there is plenty for the scholar too. The book is well
researched and thoroughly documented and, along the way, gives fresh and
disturbing examples of the closing of ranks among the literary classes, male
intellectual hegemony, publishing practices and the intolerable marginalization of
intelligent but powerless women. Most valuable are the insights into how Wells
wrote. Sadly, McKillop finally falls foul of male arrogance himself. Deeks’s history,
he claims, is unreadable today, and her subsequent writing no longer original. This

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seems a strange judgement given the writing of a period that produced Malthus,
Nordau, Havelock Ellis and Baden Powell. Perhaps, if nothing else, Deeks’s
feminist history might have historical value.
The case of Florence Deeks gets only a brief footnote in David C. Smith (ed.), The
Correspondence of H.G. Wells, volumes i–iv [1998; briefly reviewed in YWES
79[2000]), but how illuminating of Wells that small fact is. Smith’s systematic
gathering of and selection from what is available of Well’s huge correspondence
necessarily gives us the broad sweep of the man as he crosses the world and
addresses the world’s concerns. These are the letters of a literary man, but they are
not about literary matters: these letters are to do with business—not daily, banal
business but the business of a man with many friends, considerable social status, and
a relentless timetable and who is driven by ideas. The range of his correspondents is
impressive and the loyalty of his friends over long periods of time testifies to his
personal attractiveness and value. Yet it is hard to discover the man in these letters,
except in the briefest glimpses.
This year sees the publication of two books about two friends—Christopher
Scoble, Fisherman’s Friend: A Life of Stephen Reynolds and Edward Thomas, Light
and Twilight, which link unexpectedly to reintroduce a missing theme to early
twentieth-century studies—that of landscape and rural simplicity.
In his own time, many established critics and writers accepted Stephen Reynolds
as part of their literary circle and expected a great literary future for him. When he
died at the age of 38 from the influenza epidemic that swept across Britain in 1919,
the body of writing he left behind was small. His most significant public success was
A Poor Man’s House [1909], which he claimed to be the ‘genesis of
autobiografiction’, a new genre for those writers constrained and subdued by the
conventions and expectations of writing novels (p. 135). Christopher Scoble’s
biography is, to some extent, a regional work, published in Devon to celebrate the
life of a man who chose Devon as his spiritual home and brought the world of the
fishermen he lived and worked with to the national stage. However, the success of
Scoble’s project for scholarship is the light it throws on the literary and intellectual
milieu of the time, locating Reynolds in the broader context in which he can be
clearly seen as representative of his time, his class, and his gender through
previously unpublished letters and biographical accounts. Well educated, handsome
and talented, he was unable to find a way to bring together his creativity and the hard
grind of earning a living (‘I am bending every nerve to earn my own living’, p. 279),
or to acknowledge and live out his homosexuality under the microscope of the urban
literary scene presided over by Edward Garnett. He turned instead to the working
classes, to manual labour and to the simplicity of rural life in Sidmouth. This book
does not attempt to make false claims for Reynolds’s literary talent, but it does add
to the sum of our knowledge of masculine identity and literary commerce at the turn
of the century.
Laurel Books’s collection of Edward Thomas’s essays, first published in 1911,
opens the door further into an aspect of Edwardian culture that, at the moment,
seems out of step with the modernity that is being discovered in women’s writing,
war writing, and genre innovation. Yet Thomas’s evocation of a spiritualized and
aestheticized rural landscape, which was such an important trope of the pre-war
period, offers the reader a glimpse of a world and a way of writing that seems to be
dissolving even as we read. Each of the fourteen essays revolves around an epiphany

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arising from the intense observation of the world through a heightened, and
sometimes morbid, sensibility. The writing is full of Thomas’s defamiliarizing
observations—‘pearly snails, the daisies and the chips of chalk like daisies’ (p.
14)—but in his prose these descriptions belong to the tradition of Richard Jefferies
yearning for a Romanticism that could make ‘I and poet and lover and flowers and
cloud and star … equals’ (p. 34). This is an Edwardian mindset that continues to
elude sympathetic scholarly discussion, much as imperialism did until
comparatively recently: alienation and embarrassment often intervene between the
critic and such texts. Laurel Books’s collection is a timely prompt, respectfully put
together as an aide-memoire not just to a period, but to the literary experiments of a
writer on the cusp of literary transition.
To conclude with E.M. Forster, and Henry S. Turner’s discussion of ‘Empires of
Objects: Accumulation and Entropy in E.M. Forster’s Howards End’ (TCL
46:iii[2000] 328–45). Turner sees Forster as a historical anachronism in
temperament but a modern in intellect, who wrote Howards End to explore whether
and how the traditional notion of ‘value’ could make sense in a modern,
technological world. Turner transplants a Marxist vocabulary of economic processes
(accumulation, surplus and labour) into the visible manifestations of objects and
possessions to demonstrate the destabilization of social meaning and their new
existence as sites of value ambiguity and conflict. He substantiates his argument by
concentrating on ‘a straying of objects across the topography of the novel’ (p.
336)—notably Leonard Bast’s umbrella—and the tendency of possessions to
abandon stability and become problems and/or surpluses—notably the Schlegels’
furniture and their father’s library. The article concludes with a brief discussion of
the Basts, which suggests that the abstracts of class and culture might also be
understood as ‘straying objects’.

(b) The English Novel, 1930–1945


Robert Hoskins’s Graham Greene: An Approach to the Novels deals with the whole
of Greene’s writing life, not merely incidentally but as a central aspect of its main
purpose. Hoskins argues that Greene’s career falls into two main phases,
characterized by different kinds of protagonists and by differing relationships
between those protagonists and the novels’ obsessive and allusive literary
frameworks. Thus the impact on meaning of Greene’s references to, for example,
Conrad, William Le Queux, Christopher Marlowe and Wordsworth are carefully
and fully traced through his novels. Though literary and other species of allusion and
intertextuality have been previously noted by many Greene critics, Hoskins brings
these observations together into a new and productive approach to Greene’s whole
oeuvre. He suggests that the first-phase novels of the 1930s are inhabited by
protagonists who are trapped in plots of which they are unconscious, while the
novels of the 1940s and after are distinguished by increasingly aware characters,
who can at least comment on the kind of narratives they feel themselves to be in, and
in some cases can even attempt their own contributions to the script.
Cates Baldridge’s Graham Greene’s Fictions: The Virtues of Extremity [1999]
argues that Greene’s particular concern is with the extreme, the absolute: ‘it is his
angry impatience with the lives of safety and security that most of us long for … that
lends the world of his fictions its most distinctive and disquieting tone, for to enter
fully into his novels is to understand that … comfort and stasis are always already

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deadening complacency’ (p. 2). Throughout his career Greene’s novels trace a
struggle between a ‘mediated’, second-hand life and an ‘absolutistic’ life which
actually tries to see things as they are, whether in political or religious terms.
Baldridge suggests that there has been a certain degree of critical desire to normalize
or mainstream Greene’s vision, particularly perhaps the theological implications of
his narratives. Indeed, he argues that the best word to describe Greene’s religious
ideas is ‘heresy’, but that these views in no sense belong to some already
‘recognizable category of historical Christian heresy’ (p. 3). Baldridge’s second
chapter, on Greene’s conceptions of God, is especially impressive. Focusing
initially on The Power and the Glory, the chapter traces conceptions of God in the
major novels. Baldridge argues that the God of Greene’s novels is one who is more
human that absolute: ‘The God of The Power and the Glory appears to be a
watchmaker who for some reason has ceased to wind and oil his creation, as if the
same entropy that decrees the running down of the mechanism had palsied the hands
of the Maker as well’ (p. 66). Paradoxically, however, this weakened God is actually
more absolute in Greene’s terms than the absolute God as usually conceived, for
Greene links stasis to the mediated, and struggle and boundedness with the ‘virtues
of extremity’. God as author of the universe can only, for Greene, be interested (and
interesting) through participation in a narrative, not as a figure above narrative: ‘he
understood that no Narrator who proclaimed Himself to be wholly above struggle,
anguish and defeat could long hold our interest’ (p. 89). Other chapters, such as
chapter 5, ‘The Honorary Marxist: Political Philosophy in Greene’s Novels’, are
similarly thought-provoking and illuminating.
Neil Macdonald published an important short review article about Greene’s most
famous novella/film, The Third Man, ‘The Return of Harry Lime’ (Quadrant Jan./
Feb.[2000] 92–4). This draws attention to the fact that the version of the film that is
widely known is the American release, which was extensively re-edited by David O.
Selznick. The article coincided with screenings in Australia of a version of
Alexander Korda’s British release, directed by Carol Reed, which Greene himself
was closely involved with, restored by the Australian Film Institute. The article
discusses interestingly the way in which the novella/screenplay was built up by
Greene and Reed together, and also assesses the extent to which Orson Welles’s
stories about his own creative contribution to the film can be relied upon. Gene H.
Bell-Villada published an article exploring the influence of Greene on Gabriel
Garcia Marquez: ‘What the Young Gabriel Garcia Marquez Learned from the
Master Graham Greene: The Case of “Un Dia De Estos”’ (Comparatist 24[2000]
146–56). The article starts from the Columbian writer’s observation that Greene
taught him to ‘evoke the warm climate of the tropics’ (p. 146), and goes on to
analyse the ways in which Marquez’s work draws on Greene’s representations of
climate from The Power and the Glory onwards through ‘its utter lack of exoticism,
its ordinary, everyday quality’ (p. 147).
Jerome Meckier’s interesting article, ‘Aldous Huxley, Evelyn Waugh and Birth
Control in Black Mischief’ (JML 23:ii[2000] 277–90), discovers a source for
Waugh’s satire on birth control in Azania in, or via, a newspaper article by Huxley.
The article, ‘Japanese Advertisement’, appeared in the Chicago Herald and
Examiner [2 May 1932]. It is not clear where Waugh might have seen it: though
Meckier says that a number of Huxley’s essays for the Randolph Hearst syndicated
press were reprinted in English newspapers, it is not clear if or when this particular

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article was. Nevertheless, Meckier’s attribution of the article as a source seems very
convincing. Huxley was inspired to write the piece after seeing a pictorial advert for
condoms in a Japanese newspaper while dining in a Japanese restaurant in London.
The picture, showing two contrasting family scenes resulting from use or otherwise
of the pictured contraceptives, will immediately remind readers of Waugh of the
similar promotional image deployed by Seth in Black Mischief [1932]. One family
is numerous and starving, the other of limited number, with plentiful food on the
table. From Huxley’s description of these scenes, Waugh probably developed his
own, more elaborated, version. The attribution of this source would in itself be of
interest, but Meckier can further show from the manuscript of Black Mischief that a
substantial portion of the novel was already written before Waugh engaged with the
contraceptive advert idea. Up to that point there was no discussion of contraception
as one of the advantages of Western progress; Waugh’s indications of material to be
inserted make it likely that the birth-control pageant and advertisement were all
added at a later stage, when four chapters were already written. Therefore, as
Meckier concludes, the ‘Japanese advertisement’ had a marked and major role in
shaping the novel, ‘rounding off the plot and satire together’ (p. 289), giving Waugh
a brilliantly resonant way of linking technology and sterility as central to what he
saw as the dead end of Western ‘progress’.
Fred Inglis published an essay on the 1980 Granada Television adaptation of
Waugh’s novel entitled ‘Brideshead Revisited Revisited: Waugh to the Knife’ (in
Giddings and Sheen, eds., The Classic Novel: From Page to Screen, pp. 179–95).
The essay suggests that the scale of this work marked the invention of a new genre—
the seriously extended serial adaptation of a classic novel (in this case taking eleven
hours of screening time). Inglis explores the various contexts from which Waugh’s
novel constructed its meanings at the end of the Second World War and goes on to
suggest the new accretions and deletions of meaning which the adaptation could
bring about in the early 1980s. The essay particularly analyses the adaptation’s
treatment of the Catholic themes of the novel, noting that, for the ‘humanist-
consumerist producers and audience’ (p. 189), the adaptation shifts the already
powerful emphasis on elegant foreign sightseeing and aesthetic experience even
more firmly to the centre. For ‘humanist consumerists’, the appeal is ‘in terms not so
much of Christian redemption, but in the larger more unkillable hope that a good
yarn will keep the promise of happiness implicit in all art’ (p. 194).
In ‘Bruised Boys and “Fallen Women”: The Need for Rescue in Short Stories by
Elizabeth Bowen’ (SCR 32:i[1999] 88–9), Jeanette Shumakker discusses ideas of
illusion, self-awareness and rescue in Elizabeth Bowen’s short fiction—an area of
her work which has, as Shumakker comments, been generally neglected in favour of
critical work on Bowen’s novels. The article discusses the three stories, ‘The
Return’, ‘Summer Night’ and ‘Ivy Gripped the Steps’, seeing in each of them a
concern with a paralysis which stems largely from a romantic illusion that an
external agency will act as rescuer. Illusions of escape thus function as enforcers of
imprisonment. The theme is seen as linked to Bowen’s position as an Anglo-Irish
writer: ‘Bowen’s double perspective allows her to illuminate characters’
disillusionment when seeking an impossible rescue from a rapidly changing society
that alienates them’ (p. 96).
Rosamond Lehmann’s first novel, Dusty Answer [1927] is discussed in Andrea
Lewis’s ‘“Glorious pagan that I adore”: Resisting the National Reproductive

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Imperative in Rosamond Lehmann’s Dusty Answer’ (SNNTS 31:iii[1999] 357–71).


This fine article gives a nuanced and illuminating account of Lehmann’s early novel,
particularly by historicizing the relationships of the central character Judith Earle in
terms of contemporary British constructions of lesbianism and its relation to the
national imperatives of heterosexual reproduction (in several senses) after the Great
War. Lewis links her recovery of the forgotten contexts in which ‘sexuality was tied
to national anxiety’ (p. 368) to her exploration of why Lehmann’s novel invited so
much less controversy than Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness published the
year after, and subsequently banned. Lewis argues convincingly that the main
lesbian relationship in Lehmann’s novel is both more easily overlooked than the
lesbian identity represented in Hall’s novel and, paradoxically, more troubling to
English ideologies, since Judith, while not assuming any lesbian identity
characterizable as monstrous, nevertheless ‘fails to fulfill the national reproductive
imperative’ and calls into question ‘the endurance of Englishness’ itself (p. 369).

(c) Joseph Conrad


Conrad studies have not produced as many high-quality monographs this year as we
have become used to recently, but the work reviewed shows an admirable variety of
critical locations from which he is being reassessed. While the major fictions
continue to receive a great deal of attention, most notably in the special issue of The
Conradian devoted to Lord Jim, many of the lesser-known texts have received
sustained treatment and in many cases have inspired more original work than the
tried and tested subjects. Of particular prevalence amongst this year’s output are
studies engaging with the psychological, emotional and aesthetic consequences of
Conrad’s exile, but equally interesting is the emergence of a body of criticism
devoted to reading the fictions as traumatic narratives, a development which is
overdue.
The outstanding contribution to Conrad scholarship this year is Robert
Hampson’s Cross-Cultural Encounters in Joseph Conrad’s Malay Fiction.
Hampson sets out to analyse not just the cultural and political collisions of East and
West, but also the ideological and imaginative frameworking within which the
Malay fiction is contained. Indeed the prior encoding of ‘Malaysia’ (an intrinsically
problematic geopolitical term in itself) forms a significant part of the early chapters
of the study as Hampson considers the construction of Malaysia in the writings of
early Western recorders such as Thomas Raffles, James Brookes and Hugh Clifford.
These chapters provide essential contextualization for the subsequent readings of
Conrad’s principal Malay fictions, and foreground the Malay peninsula as a
politicized space as contested by literary representation as by racial or cultural
heterogeneity. Through his examination of Conrad’s career-long fascination with
Malaysia, Hampson suggests a process of ‘turning inward’ (p. 29). By this he
implies that the initial attempts to portray the Malay world (in Almayer’s Folly and
An Outcast of the Islands) gave way to ‘self-conscious engagements with the
conventions of adventure romance in Lord Jim’ (p. 30) in the face of the otherness
of the East. Increasingly, from ‘Karain’ onwards, Conrad chooses to explore the
problems of representation of Malaysia in a self-reflexive intervention into the
textualization of the region. Hampson insightfully explores the trajectory of this
inward turn and interestingly extrapolates from Conrad’s fictional insecurity an
interpretation of a more personal sense of exile and nomadism. Concluding with a

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section on the importance of homecoming in the fiction, he argues that Conrad’s


writing resists coding within stable boundaries of representation and is instead
poised between contexts which are at once familiar and alien. This is a substantial
piece of scholarship which throws new light on Conrad’s Malay fiction, and, while
it builds on established intellectual paradigms, provides a valuable assessment of the
textualization of geopolitical space.
Michael A. Lucas’s Aspects of Conrad’s Literary Language is a complex, yet
surprisingly engaging, analysis of the linguistic structures and eccentricities of
Conrad’s major writings. Taking as his starting point the acceptance of a compacted
yet prolix style, Lucas seeks to account for Conrad’s idiolect through a brief history
of his pattern of language acquisition. This leads him to the conclusion that the
spoken, seafaring English encountered by Conrad in the early 1880s strongly
affected his grasp on grammatical precision. Allied to his voracious consumption of
English literature which, Lucas argues, resulted in an understanding of English more
literary than oral, this education led to a writing style characterized by a semantic
and syntactical compression. Through close analysis of the major texts, and by
comparison against the work of his native English-speaking peers, Lucas shows
Conrad’s writing to be heavily dominated by noun-words at the expense of function-
words. While it is interesting and well demonstrated, the application of this study to
an understanding of Conradian aesthetics is perhaps limited. Lucas’s claim that the
prevailing vision of a fragmented reality being evident in an extensive lexis and
frequent ‘use of descriptive adjectives, manner adverbs and other modifying
elements’ (p. 202) is an unconvincing attempt to marry linguistic acquisition with
modernist aesthetics. Nevertheless, this is an intriguing insight for the hardened
Conrad scholar.
Ian Watt’s contribution to Conrad studies is further reinforced by a posthumous
collection of his essays—Essays on Conrad. Bringing together an eclectic selection
of previously published pieces, the volume stands testament to Watt’s enduring
engagement with Conrad. The essays comprise a mixture of critical articles,
introductions, and contributions to other volumes. As a whole they provide an
excellent overview of Conrad’s writing, but they are an equally revealing indicator
of the recent history of Conrad scholarship. Popular themes, such as the dialogue
between alienation and solidarity, jostle with an assessment of the use of humour in
Typhoon, while analysis of Conrad’s attitude to racism sits beside Watt’s entrance
into the debate on the merits of The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’. Some of these essays
are of more interest than others and, while some are beginning to seem dated, others
are as fresh and insightful as ever. What this collection shows above all is the
breadth of Watt’s work on Conrad and the consistently engaging and readable nature
of his writing. Of particular personal interest are the two final essays, both
autobiographically intertwining the author’s and critic’s lives. ‘Around Conrad’s
Grave in Canterbury’ recalls Watt’s researches into the wrangling over Jessie
Conrad’s inscription on her husband’s gravestone, while ‘“The Bridge Over the
River Kwai” as Myth’ recounts Watt’s own experiences as a Japanese prisoner of
war. Although hardly the most critically hard-headed of pieces, these last succeed
largely because of their lack of objectivity. Watt’s contribution to Conrad’s studies
in these essays reminds us that research is too frequently a process by which the
passionate become the dispassionate. This collection goes some way to reversing
that trend.

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In the journals this year there is the usual mixture of the meticulous and the
scrupulous which characterizes Conrad scholarship, and while one or two articles
appear to this reviewer to be stillborn, they are on the whole a satisfactory haul. The
Conradian devotes its volume to two special issues: one containing a collection of
little-seen manuscripts relating to Conrad, the other a paean to Lord Jim, which
celebrated its centenary in 2000. In this number is Michael Greaney’s slightly quirky
‘Lord Jim and Embarrassment’ (Conradian 25:i[2000] 1–14). Greaney makes a
valid and interesting case for the significance of shame, guilt and embarrassment in
Lord Jim. By tracing the motif of the blush, he draws parallels between the
numerous instances of social dis-ease in the novel and the more serious structural
‘embarrassments’ that problematize the process of reading Lord Jim. In the same
number Cedric Watts’s essay ‘Bakhtin’s Monologism and the Endings of Crime and
Punishment and Lord Jim’ (Conradian 25:i[2000] 15–30) takes issue with the
Bakhtinian notion of the dialogic text. Not only does Watts disagree that
Dostoevsky’s work is ‘uniquely’ dialogic, as Bakhtin contests, but he also argues
that Lord Jim’s ending points to the inadequacy of Bakhtin’s theory that no writer
after Dostoevsky was truly dialogic. Watts’s essay is a systematic dismantling of an
idea, and while that idea has already undergone serious challenge elsewhere, its
basic tenets bear repetition.
In ‘“He was Misleading”: Frustrated Gestures in Lord Jim’ (Conradian
25:i[2000] 31–47) Allan Simmons examines proleptic structures in Conrad’s
fiction, structures which, he argues, are ultimately misleading for they do not
develop as the reader anticipates. Combining analysis of the novel’s ‘anticipatory
gesturing’ with a consideration of the intertextual framework of reference to the
adventure romance, Simmons contends that readers’ expectations of Jim’s failure to
live up to a literary heroism are confounded by a romanticized resolution. Mining a
popular seam, ‘Reading as Homecoming: Expatriation as a Critical Discourse in
Lord Jim’ (Conradian 25:i[2000] 48–63) by Ludmilla Voitkovska, approaches the
well-worn terrain of Conrad’s exilic status and the impact of that on his writing. Her
argument is fresh, however. She claims that Conrad’s decision to write in English
alienated him from his own Polish reading public while granting him only an
uncomfortable access to English signification systems. She also draws interesting
parallels between the relationship between Jim and Marlow and that between
Conrad and his reader.
While the influence of Tadeusz Bobrowski on Conrad’s life and writing is well
documented, the impact of Bobrowski’s younger brother Stefan is less noted. In
‘“Usque ad finem”: Under Western Eyes, Lord Jim and Conrad’s Red Uncle’
(Conradian 25:i[2000] 64–71) Andrzej Busza provides a brief chronology of
Stefan’s short life and violent death before drawing comparisons between the
doomed political activist and Jim. Admittedly those parallels are not convincing, but
the recuperation of Stefan Bobrowski is valuable. J.H. Stape’s contribution to this
special issue is ‘Louis Becke’s Gentlemen Pirates and Lord Jim’ (Conradian
25:i[2000] 72–82). In it he considers the intertextual correspondences between
Becke’s South Sea yarns and Lord Jim with particular reference to the portrayal of
pirates. Brief but interesting. The strangely missing crew of the Patna forms the
central focus for Gene Moore’s first essay in this year’s Conradian. In ‘The Missing
Crew of the Patna’ (Conradian 25:i[2000] 83–98) he considers why, when
Conrad’s previous writings had celebrated the ordinary seafaring man, only five

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members of the crew of Jim’s vessel are identified. Ultimately, he concludes, the
insignificance which is attached to the other crew members in the narrative reflects
Jim’s own failure to acknowledge the interdependence of crew and officers. It is this
myopia which situates him resolutely within the romanticized world of seafaring
adventure literature.
The second number of this year’s Conradian is distinctive in that it brings
together a number of documents related to the life and publication history of Conrad.
The journal is to be commended for the presentation of material which is of limited
accessibility, and for the excellent editorial work that has been brought to bear on the
documentation. Among the papers reproduced are personal recollections: G.F.W.
Hope’s ‘Friend of Conrad’ (Conradian 25:ii[2000] 1–56) and Wilfred Partington’s
‘Joseph Conrad Behind the Scenes (Conradian 25:ii[2000] 177–84), both edited by
Gene Moore; a stage adaptation of ‘Victory’ by Basil MacDonald Hastings, edited
by Moore and Allan Simmons; and Conrad’s notebook (Conradian 25:ii[2000]
205–44) and Last Will (Conradian 25:ii[2000] 245–51), edited by Allan Simmons
and J.H. Stape and Hans van Marle respectively. Perhaps the most interesting aspect
of these documents is, as general editors Moore, Simmons and Stape acknowledge
in their foreword, the presence of Conrad in and around them. Whether it be in the
margins of others’ writings, or in the direct intervention of Conrad to correct or
amend biographical detail, the interpenetration of subject and critic is strangely
thrilling. While the editors have placed these documents in the wider critical
domain, they do so without overweaning commentary or editing, and their success
should be witnessed in a much broader critical assessment of the texts’ significance.
The artistic and personal implications of Conrad’s exilic status also catches the
attention of Andrea White who, in this year’s Conradiana, explores the complexly
intertwined cultural topography of the early years of his marriage to Jessie. Her
essay ‘“The Idiots”: “A Story of Brittany” under Metropolitan Eyes’ (Conradiana
32:i[2000] 4–19) examines the Conrads’ honeymoon in northern France and
considers the ethnographic models that emerge from the stories written during the
trip. Also in this number is the first of this year’s two essays on ‘Amy Foster’. Sue
Finkelstein’s interesting ‘Hope and Betrayal: A Psychoanalytical Reading of “Amy
Foster”’ (Conradiana 32:i[2000] 20–30) seeks the traces of Conrad’s own
psychological traumas in his writing. ‘Given such a legacy of trauma, and given its
enormous toll on his self-esteem,’ she asks, ‘how did Conrad manage to plumb his
own depths enough to become a writer of imaginative fiction?’ (pp. 23–4). Through
a reading of ‘Amy Foster’ Finkelstein shows how Conrad sought to accommodate
his traumatized consciousness within his fiction, but succeeded instead in recreating
‘his inner world in which abandonment and betrayal always triumph’ (p. 27). Celia
Kingsbury writes of Conrad’s disgust with the hypocrisy of bourgeois suburban
morality in ‘“The novelty of real feelings”: Restraint and Duty in Conrad’s “The
Return”’ (Conradiana 32:i[2000] 31–40, while Bruce Harkness provides an
entertainingly robust riposte to theoretical appropriations of Conrad in ‘An Old-
Fashioned Reading of Conrad; Or, “Oh, no! Not another paper on Heart of
Darkness!”’ (Conradiana 32:i[2000] 41–6). S. Ekema Agbaw and Karson L.
Kiesinger, ‘The Reincarnation of Kurtz in Norman Rush’s Mating’ (Conradiana
32:i[2000] 47–56), explore the intertextual revivification of Kurtz in Norman
Rush’s novel Mating [1991], while Richard James Hand, ‘“The stage is a terribly
searching thing” Joseph Conrad’s Dramatization of The Secret Agent’ (Conradiana

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32:i[2000] 57–65), contributes a short, but well-worked essay on Conrad’s own


dramatization of The Secret Agent.
In ‘“Nothing to be done”: Conrad, Beckett and the Poetics of Immobility’
(Conradiana 32:i[2000] 66–72) Ted Billy examines the prevalence of non-action in
the work of Beckett and in Conrad’s ‘Victory’. He contends that Conrad’s characters
are, in moments of existential crisis, rendered incapable of decision and
consequently physically and psychologically paralysed. It is an interesting argument
and one that deserved greater development, particularly in the section on the
differing modernist/postmodernist stances towards immobility. Finally in the first
number of Conradiana, Jane M. Ford contributes ‘Father/Suitor Conflict in the
Conrad Canon’ (Conradiana 32:i[2000] 73–80). In it she argues, not entirely
convincingly, that the incestuous relationship between father and daughter is a
significant theme in the work of Dickens, James and Conrad. Furthermore, she
contends that this incest results in conflict between father and daughter’s suitor; a
reversed Oedipal triangle that, in Conrad’s case, possibly reflects his own amorous
liaisons with considerably younger women.
Dorothy Trench-Bonett’s ‘Naming and Silence: A Study of Language and the
Other in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness’ (Conradiana 32:ii[2000] 84–95) is a sensible,
if not particularly original, riposte to Achebe’s claims of racist representation in
Heart of Darkness. Examining the names used to describe Black African
subjectivities, Trench-Bonett suggests that indicative use of the term ‘nigger’ is
reflective of victimization rather than denigration. In the latter parts of her essay she
also suggests that the silence of the indigenous Africans is not a conscious denial of
speech to the inarticulate on Conrad’s part, but a political statement on the silence of
the oppressed. Also writing on Heart of Darkness, Donald Wilson makes a case for
the novella as a coded engagement with its late Victorian readership’s attitude to
homosexuality. ‘The Beast in the Congo: How Victorian Homophobia Inflects
Marlow’s Heart of Darkness’ (Conradiana 32:ii[2000] 96–118) argues, again not
totally originally, that Conrad’s largely male audience would have struggled to
accept the obsessive fascination that Marlow develops for Kurtz. Nevertheless,
Wilson argues that the novel contains clear indications of homosexual undertones,
and it is these that constitute the ‘heart of darkness’ as much as Kurtz’s moral
degeneration.
‘Time as Power: The Politics of Social Time in Conrad’s The Secret Agent’
(Conradiana 32:ii[2000] 123–43), by Mark Hama, rejects notions of the
authoritarian nature of modernist time as fundamental to the novel, and instead
installs a Foucauldian vision of time as fluid, individually articulated and, above all,
powerful. Through an examination of three characters’ perceptions of time, Hama
contends that time in The Secret Agent is an act of willed social organization rather
than an oppressive force. The correspondence between St Thekla, the first female
martyr, and the character named Tekla in Under Western Eyes is examined in Debra
Romanick Baldwin’s ‘Politics, Martyrdom and the Legend of Saint Thekla in Under
Western Eyes’ (Conradiana 32:ii[2000] 144–57). Arguing that Conrad’s novel
attempts to encapsulate the very essence of Russia, Baldwin claims that the
inclusion of mystical and scared allusions to Thekla were fundamental to the
creation of that atmosphere.
Like Sue Finkelstein’s essay in the first number, Brian Shaffer’s ‘Swept from the
Sea: Trauma and Otherness in Conrad’s “Amy Foster”’ (Conradiana 32:iii[2000]

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163–76) also engages with the traumatic conditioning that exile brought about for
Conrad. The shipwreck which besets the story’s principal character is
metaphorically interpreted as being equivalent to the trauma of loss involved in
exile, and the consequent feelings of detachment, difference and alterity within the
host culture. The third number of Conradiana also contains John Lutz’s essay
‘Centaurs and Other Savages: Patriarchy, Hunger and Fetishism in “Falk”’
(Conradiana 32:iii[2000] 177–94). He contends that ‘Falk’—one of Conrad’s more
controversial works—attacks bourgeois values and social mores which seek only to
mask the ‘breakdown of moral bonds produced by capitalist social relations’ (p.
178). The story shows, he argues, how social solidarity has given way to a rapacious
code of individualism dictated by a brutal economic pragmatism. Perhaps the most
thought-provoking essay in this year’s Conradiana is Tom Henthorne’s ‘An End to
Imperialism: Lord Jim and the Postcolonial Conrad’ (Conradiana 32:iii[2000] 203–
27). Although it starts unpromisingly as yet another engagement with Achebe’s
charge against Conrad of racism, the article develops into a persuasive argument for
a reading of Lord Jim as evincing the revolutionary preconditions of the post-
colonial state. In this number Richard Hand follows up his essay on the
dramatization of The Secret Agent with an article on ‘Christopher Hampton’s
Adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent’ (Conradiana 32:iii[2000] 195–
202). The third number also contains reproductions (edited by J.H. Stape) of
nineteen letters from Conrad’s close friend, John Galsworthy: ‘From “the most
sympathetic of friends”: John Galsworthy’s Letters to Joseph Conrad, 1906–1923’
(Conradiana 32:iii[2000] 228–45). Although bare without commentary, these
letters do throw an interesting light upon an intimate and enduring literary
friendship.
Outside the main Conradian journals there have been significant contributions
from scholars in Studies in the Novel. The journal offers three essays this year, the
first being Tony Brown’s ‘Cultural Psychosis on the Frontier: The Work of the
Darkness in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness’ (SNNTS 32:i[2000] 14–28), which
explores the ways in which darkness becomes intrinsically connected to, and
responsible for, the ‘horror’. Mark Larabee takes Conrad’s assertion that the setting
of The Shadow-Line should not be expected to relate to a historically specific locale,
and examines this reticence against just such a locale. Through comparison with
contemporary charts, guides and accounts, ‘“A mysterious system”: Topographical
Fidelity and the Charting of Imperialism in Joseph Conrad’s Siamese Waters’
(SNNTS 32:iii[2000] 348–68) Larabee reveals significant topographical alterations
by Conrad, before relating those changes to his thematic structuring of The Shadow-
Line. Thirdly John G. Peters’s essay, ‘Joseph Conrad’s “Sudden Holes” in Time:
The Epistemology of Temporality’ (SNNTS 32:iv[2000] 420–41) considers
Conrad’s presentation of time, and in particular the experience of dislocation when
subjective and objective systems of temporality collide. It is an interesting, if less
provocative, paper than Mark Hama’s in Conradiana. Finally this year, Indira
Ghose’s essay ‘Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the Anxiety of Empire’ (in Glage,
ed., Being/s in Transit: Travelling, Migration, Dislocation, pp. 93–110) offers
nothing more than a tired reiteration of the popular tropes of Conradian criticism.

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(d) Wyndham Lewis


This has been quite a slow year for criticism of Lewis, and an even slower one for
the sending of review copies, which makes this task somewhat problematic. Of the
material available the following two essays were outstanding. In Twentieth-Century
Literature Paige Reynolds has published ‘“Chaos invading concept”: Blast as a
Native Theory of Promotional Culture’ (TCL 46:ii[2000] 238–68). This article
examines the explicitly populist methods employed by Wyndham Lewis in the
launch of Blast. Involving the use of typographies and syntax more commonly
associated with mass advertising, Blast sought, so Reynolds implies, to question the
relationship between high art and mass culture. By employing techniques common
to advertising Lewis was also attempting to promote English art as being at the
forefront of international culture. Lewis and the Vorticists positioned themselves, in
Reynolds’s view, at the nexus between high and low art and claimed sole control
over the ability to effect a negotiation between the two. The essay interestingly
dovetails the interests of the Vorticist movement with those of an increasingly
technologized society, but also with the interests of the burgeoning middle-class
retail sector. In manipulating the machinery of a promotional culture, those involved
with Blast were merely reflecting the modernist Zeitgeist. This is an excellent essay,
which makes a significant contribution to the study of the area.
Andreas Kramer’s essay, ‘Nationality and Avant-Garde: Anglo-German Affairs
in Wyndham Lewis’s Tarr’ (in Stark, ed., pp. 253–62), refutes readings of the novel
as anti-German, preferring to point to the subversion of literary character that makes
nationalist stereotypes redundant. The argument is sound and the explication
convincing. Kramer shows that, although stereotypical caricatures of both English
and German manners seem to support a reading of the novel as derogatory towards
the Germans, this is in fact problematized by Tarr’s own relationship with his
Englishness. By deconstructing the dialogue of nationalities Kramer suggests that
Lewis’s ultimate aim is not denigration but the revelation of identity as fluid and
inter-national rather than fixed and nationalistic.

(e) George Orwell


It seems a while since we had a good year in Orwell studies. For too long books have
been appearing that cover the same psycho-biographical ground, when they are not
claiming that the only aspect of Orwell’s writing worth considering is his politics.
New perspectives need to be taken in order to move Orwell out of the post-Cold War
phase of criticism and into more productive, energetic terrain. The books this year,
while not especially poor, seem to exemplify this problem.
Orwell criticism has had its fair share of work on how far the world has moved
towards the nightmarish vision of Nineteen Eighty-Four. On the whole these efforts
have been hysterical treatises against the contemporary political or moral Zeitgeist,
and few contain much level-headed appraisal. Steven Carter’s A Do-It-Yourself
Dystopia: The Americanization of Big Brother manages to be both slightly
hysterical and dispassionate at the same time. His book is an attempt to reveal the
ways in which modern American society has become intrinsically Orwellian. Not
simply that; America, he suggests, has willingly adopted many of the basic Party
tenets for social control with such enthusiasm that they are able to condemn in others
the lack of freedom that they have joyously internalized. Carter examines the way in
which ‘Doublethink’ and ‘Newspeak’ have not just become accommodated within

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American speech and thought-patterns, but have become the linguistic norms by
which individuals perceive their realities. While many of the previous publications
in this vein have been thinly disguised attacks on the personal antipathies of their
authors, Carter’s does offer some interesting insights into the anthropology and
sociology of modern America. His discussion of how political and corporate-speak
has diluted and ultimately degraded language is interesting, albeit not entirely
original. Indeed a certain familiarity is the overwhelming response to this book; it
has been produced in one form or another for twenty years, and Carter’s just seems
sixteen years late. Good points are made, but the comparison seems tired and dated.
The most interesting feature of the book’s publication is the confirmation of the
ongoing power of Orwell’s vision as a yardstick for the development of social
structures.
As student study guides go, Mitzi Brunsdale’s Student Companion to George
Orwell is a relatively successful example of the genre. Its intended audience is the
secondary-level student, and for that age group this is an accessible yet provocative
study of Orwell. The companion consists of a contextualizing biographical chapter
followed by a chronological analysis of the major writings. The principal theoretical
approach is psycho-biographical, but the parallels drawn between life and writing
are sufficiently robust to be convincing. Each chapter offers critical analysis of a
text, or set of texts, from the perspectives of plot development, major thematic
elements, character development and literary/stylistic devices. The writing is clear
and the structuring logical, and undoubtedly this book will serve its purpose. Too
many of the Orwellian idiosyncrasies, both political and personal, are ironed out for
my liking, and the tone is perhaps too simplistic even for this level. Too little time is
spent on important issues such as the Blair/Orwell identity crisis and the dialogue
between the texts and their various politicized receptions. Nevertheless, Brunsdale
does show herself to be more sensitive to Orwell’s ideas of Britishness than some
recent American writers on the subject, and this is a useful and above-average
addition to the field.

(f) D.H. Lawrence


The trend towards theorizing Lawrence that I identified last year continues apace
this year in both books and articles, and once again I can begin by discussing a major
example with a symptomatic title, Robert Burden’s impressive and scholarly book,
Radicalizing Lawrence: Critical Interventions in the Reading and Reception of D.H.
Lawrence’s Narrative Fiction.
This detailed and demanding text is hugely ambitious in its attempt to bring
Lawrence together with almost every single major critical theory in contemporary
literary studies, with chapters devoted to Freudian and post-Freudian
psychoanalysis, Foucauldian discourse analysis, Bakhtinian dialogics,
deconstruction, feminism, and masculinity theory—all traversed by periodic
engagements with a debate about ‘Modernism, Modernity, and Critical Theory’ (the
title of Burden’s concluding chapter). Burden approaches his task with great
crusading zeal, and rightly makes no apologies for adopting such a strong theoretical
position on Lawrence: ‘bringing theory to Lawrence is an affirmative strategy,
radicalizing what has hitherto been reduced to the transparencies and positivisms of
traditional, anti-theoretical criticism’ (p. 10). Burden writes with force and clarity
throughout, and he demonstrates a sure grasp of both the theories he deploys and a

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broad range of Lawrence studies (though he overlooks some key critical texts in
places). Anybody wishing to gain a sophisticated overview of either field will find
this a convenient, reliable and stimulating repository of information and ideas.
Having said this, one needs a good deal of stamina to read the entire book (which
runs to nearly 400 closely written pages), as it is, in fact, rather too ambitious—not
only in trying to cover so many different theoretical approaches to Lawrence (there
are potentially several books here), but also in trying (as it does) to explain and
critique all those theories in the process. Indeed, the book at times reads like a
primer of critical theory rather than as a study of Lawrence, and the massive scope
of that subject (i.e. theory) means that this inevitably leads to a certain overload of
information and a certain over-intricacy and digressiveness of argument, especially
given that the often cited (if often long deferred) aim is actually to apply the theories
to Lawrence. In this sense, the book is simply too cluttered with material to make a
truly compelling case about Lawrence and theory, either overall, or in each
individual chapter (although some chapters are more compelling than others).
Burden’s exclusive focus on Lawrence’s major novels is perhaps a little
conservative in view of the radical ambitions of the book (and it leads him into some
further laborious ‘clearing of the ground’ of old debates), but several of his readings
do pay rich dividends in revealing new facets of these familiar works. I would single
out the truly innovative central chapters on ‘Deconstructing Masculinity’ (chapters
4 and 5, dealing with Aaron’s Rod, Kangaroo and The Plumed Serpent) and the less
wholly original but thorough and insightful discussion of Bakhtin’s theories in
relation to Women in Love, The Lost Girl and Mr Noon (chapter 3). Burden, it seems
to me, unfairly plays down the significance and scope of earlier Bakhtinian
approaches to Lawrence (and he seems to be unaware of some others), but he
nevertheless provides one of the fullest overviews of this branch of Lawrence
criticism currently available.
Terry Wright’s D.H. Lawrence and the Bible at first also promises to engage
usefully and innovatively with critical theory in its approach to Lawrence’s career-
long ‘creative dialogue with the Bible’ (p. 251), which is the subject of the book.
Wright’s brisk first four chapters certainly suggest a systematic theoretical agenda
in their detailed concern with questions of intertextuality, with the theories of
Bakhtin, Bloom and Derrida, and with the broadly Nietzschean paradigm within
which Lawrence developed his philosophical and artistic stance towards the Bible.
These chapters are well informed and clear, and seem to set the scene for a fuller
working out of their implications in the body of the book. However, Wright does not
really fulfil this promise in the ensuing chapters where, on the whole (there are
notable exceptions), he adopts a type of source-hunting approach which largely
abandons any claim to theoretical sophistication in favour of a rather mechanical
determination to account for all major biblical allusions in almost every one of
Lawrence’s texts (with the unaccountable exception of The Virgin and the Gipsy).
This is not to underestimate or disparage what Wright has positively achieved in
tracing all these allusions and in accounting (often very insightfully) for their
contextual and intertextual significance. This book is undoubtedly an important
contribution to the field and deserves to become a key source of reference for
anyone interested in Lawrence’s use of the Bible. But I think Wright has missed a
valuable opportunity to engage with the full range of artistic and intellectual issues
at stake here by failing to develop a truly original and sustained critical argument.

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Part of the problem is his reluctance to participate seriously in the existing critical
debate about how Lawrence’s art and thought grapples with his Christian and
biblical heritage. Wright explicitly acknowledges some important critical precursors
in what he tries to do, and his bibliography bespeaks a fairly comprehensive
familiarity with Lawrence scholarship generally; but he almost nowhere enters into
any detailed dialogue with other critics that might help him clarify just what still
needs to be done in terms of this debate and just what it is that is distinctive in his
own approach to the topic. Wright properly admits that he is by no means the first
critic to argue that Lawrence constantly appropriates and reaccentuates the language
of the Bible for his own philosophical, artistic and religious purposes, but it is not
quite good enough then simply to claim a quantitative difference and say, as Wright
effectively does, ‘but I’m going to do it in much more detail’ (see p. 12). The
quantitative analysis of biblical allusions is valuable, as I have said, but one has the
right to expect more than this from a critical monograph.
The third of only three books on Lawrence this year is D.H. Lawrence: The
Novels by Nicholas Marsh, a type of composite study guide to Sons and Lovers, The
Rainbow and Women in Love. As an introductory text, the book inevitably goes over
much familiar territory, and its scope does not allow for the development of any
radically new ideas about the three novels; but Marsh provides a well-informed and
perceptive comparative introduction to these works and suggests useful follow-up
activities for further study. He covers the essentials of Lawrence’s life, work and
critical reception briskly and reliably, and presents a good overview of Lawrence’s
place in the development of the novel. There is also a useful sampling of relevant
criticism illustrating different approaches to Lawrence. The strongest aspect of the
book, however, is its close attention to textual detail, and Marsh himself is an
excellent close reader of Lawrence, frequently sparking fresh insights into familiar
passages and skilfully drawing attention to the distinctive features of Lawrence’s
style.
In her detailed review essay, ‘Psychodynamics, Seeing, and Being in D.H.
Lawrence’ (MFS 46:iv[2000] 971–8), Elizabeth M. Fox broadly concurs with my
briefer comments here last year (YWES 80[2001]) on monographs by Jack Stewart
and Barbara Schapiro, seeing these works, as she puts it, as ‘milestones in Lawrence
studies’ (p. 971). Both Schapiro and Stewart develop aspects of their monographs in
separate articles this year. In ‘Sadomasochism as Intersubjective Breakdown in D.H.
Lawrence’s “The Woman Who Rode Away”’ (in Rudnytsky and Gordon, eds., 123–
33), Barbara Schapiro continues to tease out the post-Freudian textual
psychodynamics of Lawrence’s ‘courageous’ treatment of intersubjectivity, casting
fresh light on this critically controversial story which is seen here as ‘a disturbing
enactment of the psychological dilemma inherent in masochistic fantasy’ (p. 129).
In ‘Color, Space, and Place in Lawrence’s Letters’ (DHLR 29:i[2000] 19–36) Jack
Stewart becomes one of the very few critics to have written in serious analytical
detail on Lawrence’s letters, and probably the first to have done so on the letters as
presented in their newly established texts (and sequence) in the Cambridge edition.
In considering the letters as ‘intrinsically literary in communicating a vision in
words’, Stewart effectively applies to the letters his approach to Lawrence’s other
writings in The Vital Art of D.H. Lawrence [1999]—and he does so in an equally
insightful, scholarly and elegant manner, strikingly bringing to life the way in which
Lawrence himself ‘lives in his letters’.

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An appropriate, if slightly less compelling, companion piece to Stewart’s essay is


Bibhu Padhi’s ‘D.H. Lawrence’s Non-Fiction Prose: The Deeper Strains’ (DHLR
29:i[2000] 37–50). Padhi, too, primarily considers stylistic elements of Lawrence’s
non-fictional prose (mainly the essays), and with a similar ulterior focus on
Lawrence’s ‘vision’ and ‘aesthetics of spontaneity’. Andrew Harrison presents a
differently orientated and more tightly circumscribed stylistic analysis in his
fascinating and finely detailed study of ‘Electricity and the Place of Futurism in
Women in Love’ (DHLR 29:ii[2000] 7–23). After briskly and authoritatively
surveying Lawrence’s familiarity with futurist art and writing, Harrison carefully
details how the quintessential futurist image of electricity—an early suggested name
for Futurism was ‘Electricism’—permeates the novel’s language and ‘polarises’ its
meanings and relationships.
Gerald Doherty, in ‘A Question of Gravity: The Erotics of Identification in
Women in Love’ (DHLR 29:ii[2000] 25–41), engages in a similar enterprise of
analysing how meanings and relationships are polarized in the novel by specific
rhetorical strategies. Doherty’s more complex approach, however, is underpinned
by psychoanalysis and seeks to show how different metaphors function to structure
and represent processes of psychological identification (in the case of Gerald and
Gudrun) or dis-identification (in the case of Birkin and Ursula). This concern with
merging and separation (and polarized ‘star equilibrium’) is standard fare in
discussions of Lawrence (and it echoes Schapiro’s approach above), but Doherty’s
distinctive blend of post-structuralism and psychoanalysis adds a new stylistic
dimension to our understanding of this theme.
Ben Stoltzfus demonstrates a different form of post-Freudianism in his ‘“The
Man Who Loved Islands”: A Lacanian Reading’ (DHLR 29:iii[2000] 27–38). More
suggestive than convincing, this represents a newly accented rather than wholly new
interpretation of this much-analysed text. The view that the story dramatizes
Cathcart’s death-wish is hardly ground-breaking, but Stoltzfus elaborates his
argument in an intriguing and unusual way, and presents Lacanian ideas in a
helpfully lucid manner. The essay nevertheless finally undermines itself in its
contrived conclusion, which sees Stoltzfus literally rewriting the ending of
Lawrence’s story by appealing to ‘floating signifiers that, although not themselves
present in the text, are nonetheless there, under erasure so to speak’ (p. 36).
Other items from this year’s three numbers of the D.H. Lawrence Review include
useful bibliographical and historical studies. Jacqueline Gouirand provides an
extensive update of work in France, ‘A Checklist of D.H. Lawrence Translations,
Criticism, and Scholarship Published in France, 1986–1996’ (DHLR 29:ii[2000]
43–53), while Mark Kinkead-Weekes and John Worthen, in ‘More about The
Rainbow’ (DHLR 29:iii[2000] 7–17), draw attention to some newly discovered
materials relating to that novel’s history: these include a previously unpublished
early review, and a marked copy of the novel which shows that Lawrence continued
to revise it even after publication. Steve Ressler’s essay in the same number also
concerns Lawrence’s processes of revision by considering how the ‘Broken
Chronology in The Rainbow’s “Anna Victrix” and “The Cathedral”’ helped
Lawrence achieve a ‘weighted conflict between his warring lovers’ (DHLR
29:iii[2000] 19–25: 24).
Adam Parkes’s essay, ‘D.H. Lawrence and Federico Beltrán Massés: Censorship,
Obscenity, and Class’ (DHLR 29:i[2000] 7–18), represents an excellent piece of

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original research into the immediate social, cultural and legal context of the
suppression of Lawrence’s exhibition of paintings in 1929. By comparing the
reception of a contemporaneous exhibition by the ‘society’ painter, Beltrán Massés,
Parkes neatly demonstrates how (as in the Lady Chatterley case) class was a key
point at issue here. Drawing on various contemporary documents, Parkes
contributes valuable new information to our growing understanding of how
fundamentally Lawrence’s reception was shaped by questions of censorship. This is
the broader significance too of James T. Boulton’s researches into the recently
opened Home Office file on Lawrence’s Pansies, which was also banned in 1929.
His essay, ‘D.H. Lawrence’s Pansies and the State, 1929’ (JDHLS [2000] 5–16),
describes the new information thrown up by the file, and explains how it contributes
to a fuller picture of the history of Pansies. In particular, he shows how
determinedly, and sometimes secretly, the authorities sought to suppress the
publication and distribution of the unexpurgated edition of the book, even after the
initial seizure of manuscripts and the publication of the expurgated edition in July
1929. Hitherto, it was not known—and Lawrence could not have known—how
narrowly the unexpurgated ‘for Subscribers only’ edition of August 1929 escaped
prosecution. It would be interesting, now, to see how one might combine the new
information provided in these two historicizing essays, and to consider if, how, and
to what extent official attitudes to each case (poems and paintings) were interrelated.
Several other forms of historical perspective on Lawrence are explored in essays
this year. In ‘Trespassing: Philip Larkin and the Legacy of D.H. Lawrence’ (DHLR
29:iii[2000] 41–8) Rebecca Johnson, Philip Larkin’s archivist, explores the poet’s
conflicted ‘relationship’ with Lawrence, arguing that he ‘ruthlessly pillaged D.H.
Lawrence’s life and work in order to feed his own creative imagination’ (p. 41)
before distancing himself from Lawrence later in his career. John Fordham, too,
considers Lawrence’s literary legacy, this time to working-class writers, in ‘Death of
a Porcupine: D.H. Lawrence and his Successors’ (L&H 9:i[2000] 56–66). Fordham
makes a brisk case for recognizing the complexity of Lawrence’s works in terms of
their class significance, and refreshingly reminds us that Lawrence was ‘always
inevitably involved in a determinedly social and correspondingly textual class
struggle’ (p. 64).
Ann Ardis also engages with questions of social class in her reconsideration of
Lawrence’s ambivalent relationship to modernism in ‘Delimiting Modernism and
the Literary Field: D.H. Lawrence and The Lost Girl’ (in Hapgood and Paxton, eds.,
pp. 123–42). Discussing music hall, cinema, and literary ‘high’ art partially in terms
of their different class formations, Ardis interestingly (though not entirely
originally) explores the ways in which The Lost Girl provides ‘a self-reflexive
commentary on aesthetic production in Britain at the turn of the twentieth century’
(p. 138). She seems unaware of the pioneering work of George Hyde in exploring
self-reflexive and music-hall elements in Lawrence’s work, and Hyde has added
inventively to his critical output on Lawrence with his highly original essay on a
music-hall source for the catch-phrase ‘that’s that’ in Lady Chatterley’s Lover,
‘Lady Chatterley’s Unlikely Bedfellow: George Robey and the Language of
Lawrence’s Last Novel’ (JDHLS [2000] 17–36).
Like Ardis and Fordham, Roger Ebbatson explores aspects of the social and
cultural context of Lawrence’s work in ‘“England, my England”: Lawrence, War
and Nation’ (L&H 9:i[2000] 67–82). Ebbatson’s reading of the named story as a

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symptomatic text of its period involves a wide-ranging and sophisticated theoretical


perspective which, among other things, dialogizes Lawrence’s fiction in relation to
both realism and modernism. The Lawrentian dialogue with modernism is picked up
in Howard J. Booth’s thought-provoking if slightly truncated argument in
‘Lawrence in Doubt: A Theory of the “Other” and its Collapse’ (in Booth and Rigby,
eds., pp. 197–223). Booth’s particular engagement with modernism here is a post-
colonial one, as he explores how Lawrence draws on typically modernist strategies
in his struggle to develop a theory of ‘otherness’ in his encounters with foreign races
and places. Eva Yi Chen takes perhaps a more thoroughgoing post-colonial
perspective in her essay, ‘Primitivism, Empire, and a Personal Ideology: D.H.
Lawrence’s Travel Writings on the Indians of the American Southwest’ (JDHLS
[2000] 52–88). Yi Chen’s essay is over-long, and a little tortuously argued at times,
but it usefully grapples with many of the key issues at stake in developing a post-
colonial perspective on Lawrence.
Ronald Granofsky’s treatment of race, on the other hand, looks back to more
traditional psycho-biographical approaches to Lawrence. In ‘“Jews of the wrong
sort”: D.H. Lawrence and Race’ (JML 23:ii[1999–2000] 209–23), Granofsky traces
anti-Semitic utterances in Lawrence’s works to an underlying fear of merger and
‘boundary violation’ (p. 218) that is rooted in pre-Oedipal psychic formations and is
therefore more to do with women than with Jews. Effectively playing a variation on
Judith Ruderman’s well-known ‘devouring mother’ thesis on Lawrence, Granofsky
thus (over-)ingeniously exposes Lawrence’s anti-Semitism as a type of misogyny in
disguise. In a convoluted and overwritten exploration of Lawrence’s engagement
with the cultural other, Gregory Frank Teague, ‘Levels of Participatory Experience
in D.H. Lawrence’s Italy Books’ (Real 25:ii[2000] 49–76), draws on a heady
mixture of Schopenhauer, Jung and Bakhtin to show how Lawrence ‘participated’
differently in Italian modes of being at the different moments of his career
represented by his three Italian travel books.
Gary Adelman, in ‘The Man Who Rode Away: What D.H. Lawrence Means to
Today’s Readers’ (TriQ 107–8[2000] 508–36), gathers an interesting, if eclectic,
range of contemporary opinions on Lawrence, from undergraduate students, on the
one hand, to professional writers, on the other. Teaching a Lawrence seminar in
1997, Adelman was prompted by his students’ generally negative response to the
writer to initiate a sort of dialogue between their views and those of established
authors, so he wrote to 110 novelists asking them to comment on his students’ views
and to indicate their own attitudes to Lawrence. Forty-four of the novelists
responded (including, for example, A.S. Byatt, Doris Lessing, Erica Jong, William
Gass and John Fowles) and substantial extracts from their widely varied replies are
printed here, providing what should be a useful archive of contemporary opinion for
future reference. By coincidence, another contemporary writer, Pico Iyer, also
records his feelings about Lawrence in an independent essay, ‘Lawrence by
Lightning’ (ASch 68:iv[2000] 128–33). This is (perhaps unsurprisingly) one of the
best-written essays of the year and provides an affecting personal perspective on
Lawrence’s characteristic qualities as a writer. It is certainly a ‘passionate
appreciation’ rather than a critical study, but in its account of both youthful and
mature encounters with, in particular, The Virgin and the Gipsy, it also provides a
closely considered reflection on the changing (and, for the writer, enduring)
significance of Lawrence’s work, which, though primarily personal, inevitably takes

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in some common features of a general reading history and thus adds significantly to
the ‘archive’ assembled by Adelman.
In ‘At the End of The Rainbow: Reading Lesbian Identities in D.H. Lawrence’s
Fiction’ (IFR 27:i–ii[2000] 60–7), Justin D. Edwards makes some promising
observations about the dominant and emergent sexual paradigms within which
Lawrence worked, but ultimately makes little real progress in developing the
existing critical debate on Lawrence’s sexual and gender politics (a debate which
Edwards is only partially informed about). Jonathan Long’s ‘D.H. Lawrence and
Nakedness’ (JDHLS [2000] 89–109) usefully draws attention to an unexpectedly
neglected area of Lawrence studies, but then does little more with the topic than
simply to catalogue a variety of instances of nakedness in Lawrence’s works
(including the paintings). Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari, Stephen Alexander also
focuses on Lawrence’s celebration of ‘naked’ spontaneity and desire in ‘The Strange
Becomings of Sir Clifford Chatterley: A Schizoanalysis’ (JDHLS [2000] 37–51).
This sounds rather abstruse, but Alexander actually ends up taking a fairly
conventional 1960s view of Lawrence as a champion of free sexual expression and
‘polymorphous perversity’.
In ‘The Religious Initiation of the Reader in D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow’
(Mosaic 33:iii[2000] 165–82), Charles M. Burack draws creatively on
phenomenology and reader-response theory to argue that Lawrence’s poetic use of
a rhythmic ‘initiatory structure’ in The Rainbow is designed to evoke numinous
states of consciousness in the reader. Rightly relating this strategy to the modernist
concern with epiphany, Burack, however, strains to establish what is surely too
schematic (and ultimately inevitably subjective) a view of Lawrence’s designs on
the reader. Moreover, although better informed than many critics mentioned here,
Burack does neglect one or two critical precursors who have argued along similar
lines: Peter Balbert’s D.H. Lawrence and the Psychology of Rhythm [1974], for
example. John R. Harrison, in ‘The Flesh and the Word: The Evolution of a
Metaphysic in the Early Work of D.H. Lawrence’ (SNNTS 32:i[2000] 29–48), more
coolly analyses how Lawrence’s ‘ontology and epistemology are woven intuitively
into the fabric of the … early fiction’ (p. 30). Harrison tries to correct what he sees
as the general misconception that Lawrence’s theories tend to pre-date their fictional
reworking by showing how, in particular, his earliest imaginative works clearly
experiment with ideas that are only later conceptualized theoretically (in ‘Study of
Thomas Hardy’, for example). This is an intelligent and well-written essay, unusual
here for concentrating on Lawrence’s very earliest works.
Primarily focused on the other end of Lawrence’s career, two essays take the
motif of death as their subjects. Alan W. Friedman’s ‘D.H. Lawrence: Pleasure and
Death’ (SNNTS 32:ii[2000] 207–28) is the more conventional of the two and is
really no more than a rapid trawl through the later fiction to consider what is seen as
Lawrence’s repeated ‘treatment of the Freudian deathwish’ (p. 214). The main
unifying argument here is that Lawrence reflects a paradoxical modernist desire to
reverse the traditional Victorian death-bed scene in resurrectionary fantasies which,
in their affirmative yea-saying, actually bespeak their deepest anxieties about death.
Howard J. Booth’s more original ‘“A Dream of Life”: D.H. Lawrence, Utopia and
Death’ (ES 80:v[1999] 462–78), an essay missed last year, actually argues
something very similar, but in a more biographically oriented way. Lawrence’s later
writings, for Booth, modulate into utopian fantasies precisely because of

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Lawrence’s real illness and his real fear of death. They provided Lawrence with a
means of projecting himself ‘away from his health problems into an ideal space’ (p.
478). However, Booth’s fascinating analysis of ‘A Dream of Life’ [1927]
demonstrates how Lawrence’s repressed fears constantly resurface in the ‘uncanny’
elements of the story. A cautionary comment about Booth’s essay, though, may be
represented by Stanley Sultan’s labouring, in ‘Lawrence the Anti-Autobiographer’
(JML 23:ii[1999–2000] 225–48), of the critical commonplace that Lawrence’s
characters are never mere ‘facsimiles’ of the author, and that, though Lawrence
obviously drew on his own experiences, this was always only ‘a method for making
fiction’.
Three volumes (21, 22, 23) of Etudes Lawrenciennes for 2000 together contain
some twenty-five essays deriving from a 1999 conference held in Paris on the theme
‘D.H. Lawrence: After Strange Gods’. As might be expected, these cover almost the
whole range of Lawrence’s oeuvre from a variety of perspectives, and, though there
is inevitably some unevenness across the three volumes, the general standard of all
these essays is high, with a refreshing emphasis on new approaches to Lawrence as
well as on some of his less familiar works. As just two examples of this stimulating
and innovative range of work, one might mention Garry Watson’s ‘Rethinking This-
Worldly Religion: D.H. Lawrence and French Theory’ (EL 21[2000] 21–49) and
Aline Ferreira’s ‘A Reading of D.H. Lawrence and Luce Irigaray’s Notion of
Wonder’ (EL 22[2000] 43–60).
Mention should be made of the publication of the final volume of the Cambridge
edition of Lawrence’s letters. Scrupulously edited by the indefatigable James T.
Boulton, The Letters of D.H. Lawrence, vol. viii: Previously Uncollected Letters/
General Index prints letters to and from Lawrence which came to light too late to be
included earlier in the correct sequence of the edition. It also includes corrigenda
and addenda to the previous volumes, a few previously published but uncollected
letters, and an extensive index to all eight volumes.
Essays or other work which I have not been able to access include the following:
Laurie A. Sterling and Kathryn Yerkes, ‘“The mastery that man must hold”: Little
Red Riding Hood Grows Up in Lawrence’s “The Woman Who Rode Away”,
Silko’s “Yellow Woman”, and Carter’s “The Company of Wolves”’ (POMPA
[2000] 62–9); Justin Williamson, ‘“The Living Moment”: D.H. Lawrence’s Poetic
and Religious Vision in “Fish”’ (POMPA [2000] 37–47); William M. Harrison,
‘Thinking Like a Chicken—But Not a Porcupine: Lawrence, Feminism, and Animal
Rights’ (LIT 10:iv[2000] 349–70); Gregory Tague, ‘Self Recovery in D.H.
Lawrence: Schopenhauer, Estrangement, and the Sublime’ (R/WT 8:i–ii[2000] 53–
64); and Masako Hirai, ‘Tanizaki and Lawrence (or East and West): The Paradox of
Love between Mother and Son’ (in Vervliet and Estor, eds., Methods for the Study
of Literature as Cultural Memory, pp. 161–73).
Finally, George Hyde (JDHLS [2000] 134–5) reviews what looks to be a valuable
addition to the Lawrentian canon, in a Japanese collection of his visual art, Paintings
and Writings of D.H. Lawrence (Tokyo: Sogensha [2000]). Most of the text is
apparently in Japanese, but ‘what we have here is the richest harvest so far of
Lawrence’s intensely personal work as a painter and as a graphic artist’ (p. 134).

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(g) James Joyce


This year saw the publication of a significant new addition to the trend of
biographical studies. John McCourt’s engaging volume documenting Joyce’s
Triestine period provides further confirmation that Ellmann’s monumental tome is
no longer the last word in Joyce biography. The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in
Trieste, 1904–1920 provides a compelling case for re-evaluating the importance of
Trieste for Joyce’s work by relating his artistic development to the cosmopolitan life
of the city in which he lived, on and off, for a decade and a half, for it was here,
argues McCourt, that Joyce came to a more subtle (less chauvinistic) understanding
of women, and befriended a number of Jews whose characters and knowledge
informed his later fiction. McCourt offers another model for the character of
Bloom—one Theodor Mayer, the Hungarian Jewish editor of the irredentist
newspaper Il Piccolo, who also happened to be a mason, stamp-collector and
sometime exponent of ‘the gentle art of advertising’. More than any one specific
model, however, what emerges most strongly is a portrait of Bloom as Triestine,
notably in his retorts in ‘Cyclops’, his cosmopolitanism and ‘rejections of
nationality, of persecution’ (p. 73). McCourt’s local knowledge of Trieste fuels his
readable, fast-moving narrative. There are several critical comments offered as well,
including observations that link Joyce’s early life to phrases in the portmanteau
language of Finnegans Wake. For instance, the dialect of Trieste, Triestino, which
Joyce ‘learned to speak … brilliantly’ was ‘a living encyclopaedia of the cultures,
nations and languages which had been assimilated in the city’ and ‘in this respect the
language of Finnegans Wake is an exaggerated, exploded version of Triestino’ (pp.
52–3). If The Years of Bloom is a little short on photographic depictions of its
subject, another book by John McCourt, James Joyce: A Passionate Exile, certainly
makes up for that shortcoming. Essentially a coffee-table book, it contains many
excellent pictures, including some of Trieste, and a slightly skewed ‘brief life’ that
stresses the importance of the Triestine middle years at the expense of the less well
documented Paris years.
McCourt has also contributed an essay on Giacomo Joyce, ‘The Importance of
Being Giacomo’ (JoyceSA 11[2000] 4–26), arguing that more important than a
precise identification of the model(s) for the female protagonist is her escape from
the ‘lustful and sometimes violent gaze’ (p. 24) of Giacomo. Another study of
Joyce’s Triestine poem in prose is ‘“At the center, what?” Giacomo Joyce, Roland
Barthes and the Novelistic Fragment’ (JJQ 36:iv[1999] 765–80), by Michel
Delville, which sees it as a Barthesian ‘novelistic’ text.
Although Attridge and Howes, eds., Semicolonial Joyce, is a collection of original
essays, it merits discussion here as a book in that it collectively provides a
significant contribution to recent discussions of Joyce’s relationship to colonial and
post-colonial cultures. As the editors point out, the term ‘semicolonial’ is
characteristic of Joyce’s ambivalence towards hard and fast political statements, for
it not only confuses the already complex relation between colonialism and post-
colonialism but typically intermingles the political with the linguistic. The first
essay, ‘Dead Ends: Joyce’s Finest Moments’, by Seamus Deane, is a
characteristically brilliant and provocative reading of some of the Dubliners stories,
and also forwards the dominant argument of the book: that ‘to be colonial is to be
modern’, that ‘Joyce’s political critique’ of the paralysis and fantasy invoked by
colonial conditions also ‘points up how characteristic this is of the conditions of

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modernity. What the Dubliners suffer from is not the inability to enter into
modernity; it is the inability to escape from it’ (p. 33). Deane suggests that Joyce’s
‘critique’ ends with the penultimate story of Dubliners, and that from then on he
‘surrenders critique for aesthetics’ (p. 34). Not all the other contributors would agree
with this last analysis, seeing as they do Joyce’s continued and lifelong engagement
with cultural politics and the politics of representation. Another fine essay, Joseph
Valente’s ‘“Neither fish nor flesh”; or, how “Cyclops” Stages the Double-Bind of
Irish Manhood’, offers an excellent reading of the twelfth episode of Ulysses as an
interrogation of the Victorian/Edwardian construction of masculinity as it was
‘supportive—even constitutive—in the delineation of ethnic differences between
colonising and colonised peoples’ (p. 96). In Valente’s discussion, the Citizen’s
apparent descent into bestiality is an enactment of ‘colonial hypermasculinity’ (p.
106)—the mimicry of the strong man of violent resistance who falls prey to the
colonizers’ simianization of the colonized—and Bloom’s attempt at dignified self-
control mimics ‘colonial gentlemanliness’ (p. 124) only to end up criticized as
emasculation. That Joyce sees no way beyond this impasse of colonial manhood is
Valente’s pessimistic conclusion. The final essay of the collection, ‘Authenticity
and Identity: Catching the Irish Spirit’, by Vincent Cheng, warns of the dangers of
any such search for authenticity in the colonial debate, as both academic and popular
appropriations of Irishness—from post-colonial theory to the below-deck
shenanigans in the film Titanic—can tend to reproduce comfortable stereotypes. As
is so often the case, Joyce’s writing has anticipated the questions now raised to
explore it. Without exception, the essays in this volume (some of which are listed
elsewhere in this review) are interesting and provocative for further study, including
Katy Mullin’s analysis of Joyce’s subversive use of emigration narratives in
‘Eveline’ and Elizabeth Butler Cullingford’s discussion of Joyce’s inventive
genealogy and geography. They all generally contend that Joyce’s work engages
with Irish colonization and its attendant themes, and where some are short of
gripping textual analysis all are worthy contributions to an important volume. An apt
and open conclusion may well be Emer Nolan’s warning from her overview of Joyce
and post-colonialism that ‘Joyce may present a polyphony of voices—translating
this into a politics is by no means straightforward’ (p. 85).
Recent work that has placed Joyce in the context of Irish historical and cultural
transformations has been supplemented by Willard Potts’s Joyce and the Two
Irelands. Potts analyses a broad range of Joyce’s prose in the context of the Revival.
It is in his definition of the Revival in a lengthy opening chapter that this book stakes
its claim, seeing it primarily in religious terms as the offshoot of sectarian division.
Potts outlines the broad socio-religious differences among Revival figures, and
argues that Joyce was very much a part of the Revival and that he never fully shook
off his own Catholic upbringing. After its initial contextualization, the book then
discusses, in a chapter each: the Critical Writings, Dubliners, Stephen Hero and A
Portrait, Exiles and Ulysses. These discussions elucidate Joyce’s references to the
Revival, and Potts seems particularly keen to list as many Protestants as he can find
in the work. However, given his definition of the Revival, and his argument that
Joyce had no truck whatsoever with nationalism, Potts’s focus on Protestants (he
does not differentiate between forms thereof) seems designed to find traces of a
sectarian residue, which, of course, are duly found. Joyce, then, could break from
literary tradition, he could step aside from nationalism, but he remains caught,

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according to Potts, within ‘the traditions and feelings of his Catholic culture’ (p.
198). This may well be the case, yet it seems only reasonable not to detach religious
sectarianism from other cultural, national and imperial issues.
Other investigations into the various political backgrounds and contexts of
Joyce’s work have appeared in a number of essays. These include June Dwyer’s
‘Feast and Famine: James Joyce and the Politics of Food’ (Proteus 17:i[2000] 41–
4), a discussion of cultural identity after the Famine and Joyce’s representations of
eating, particularly in ‘The Dead’. On a different tack, in ‘Penelope, or, Myths
Unravelling: Writing, Orality and Abjection in Ulysses’ (TPr 14:iii[2000] 519–31)
Gerardine Meaney suggests that Joyce unravels myths of national culture at the
expense of reinstating myths of the feminine: Molly’s ‘masterpiece of oralization’
(p. 526) comes close to abjection. Two essays appeared in a broad-ranging
collection, Booth and Rigby, eds., Modernism and Empire. In ‘Modernism, Ireland
and Empire: Yeats, Joyce and their Implied Audiences’, C.L. Innes discusses the
ways in which Yeats, and especially Joyce, suggest a specifically Irish and
politicized audience for their work alongside a more generalized reception, and in
‘“Hanging over the bloody paper”: Newspapers and Imperialism in Ulysses’, John
Nash argues that a reading of The Times as a source for the ‘Cyclops’ episode shows
Joyce engaged in an anti-imperial parody of that newspaper. The political
implications of the spatial representation of Dublin in Ulysses are discussed by
Andrew Thacker in ‘Toppling Masonry and Textual Space: Nelson’s Pillar and
Spatial Politics in Ulysses’ (ISR 8:ii[2000] 195–203). Alongside this may be read
Enda Duffy’s ‘Disappearing Dublin: Ulysses, Postcoloniality and the Politics of
Space’ and Marjorie Howes’s ‘“Goodbye Ireland, I’m going to Gort”: Geography,
Scale and Narrating the Nation’, both in Attridge and Howes, eds., Semicolonial
Joyce. Duffy’s argument bears a strong resemblance to that of Innes, citing
knowledge of 1904 Dublin as a hallmark of the projected community of readers in
Ulysses. ‘The politics of space’ recurs in Anne Fogarty’s essay, ‘Remapping
Nationalism: The Politics of Space in Joyce’s Dubliners’, which includes a brief
discussion of the relations between gender and urban space in ‘Eveline’ and ‘Clay’.
This is in Bataillard and Sipière, eds., Dubliners, James Joyce: The Dead, John
Huston, which also contains a section of seven essays and a bibliography devoted to
Huston’s film of ‘The Dead’. One of these, ‘The City of Dublin and its Symbols’ by
Laëtitia Crémona, again takes up the theme of spatial politics. Yet another form of
spatial organization in ‘Eveline’ is discussed in an intriguing essay by Peter de
Voogd, ‘Imaging Eveline, Visualised Focalisations in James Joyce’s Dubliners’
(EJES 4:i[2000] 39–48), who argues that the story operates a series of visual set-
pieces dramatizing Eveline’s melodramatic ‘self-willed victimisation’ (p. 48).
Two collections of essays by long-standing readers of Joyce appeared this year,
and they exemplify the variety of output which Joyce studies still attracts, each
providing a memoir of decades spent in Joyce scholarship. Derek Attridge, one of
the most productive and consistently challenging of Joyce critics, has moulded a
number of previously published essays—on deconstructive Joyce, ‘popular’ Joyce,
‘Clay’, character, ‘Penelope’, postmodernity and narrative, interpretation and
language in the Wake—into a single volume, Joyce Effects: On Language, Theory,
and History, to which is added an autobiographical introduction. Here, Attridge
chronicles his development as a critical thinker, and his attendance at Joyce
symposia. In a not untypical gesture, he turns against the ‘formulaic applications’ (p.

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15) of the theoretical schools that have been so readily accommodated within Joyce
studies. This is not to say that Attridge has lost faith in either Joyce or critical
endeavour—rather, he reaffirms his (and others’) ‘commitment to Joyce’—but he
does call for a reading of Joyce that rethinks his role in the institution of literary
production and consumption. What worries Attridge about the expansion of Joyce
studies is that its library of scholarship which makes annotation and glossary so
readily available no longer challenges its readers but has instead won ‘cultural
supremacy’ as the greatest example of Western literary culture, and is now ‘a text
that confirms us in our satisfied certainties’ (p. 185). It is at least refreshing to read
a Joyce critic challenging the unabashed growth of Joyce scholarship and instead
positing a contemporary cultural milieu for reading what has become of Joyce. One
essay that partially addresses these issues is ‘The Genealogies of Ulysses, the
Invention of Postmodernism, and the Narratives of Literary History’ (ELH
67:iv[2000] 1035–54) by Brian Richardson, which discusses that novel’s place in
critical conceptions of literary history (or histories), especially in relation to the
category postmodernism. Attridge’s chapter on the relationship between sexual
awareness and language in A Portrait is complemented by a discussion of selfhood,
sexuality and epiphany by Joshua Reynolds in ‘Joyce’s Epiphanic Mode: Material
Language and the Representation of Sexuality in Stephen Hero and Portrait’ (TCL
46:i[2000] 20–33).
Morton P. Levitt’s collection, James Joyce and Modernism: Beyond Dublin,
brings together several decades’ worth of essays on Joyce under some consistent
critical themes; modernist art, Jewishness, myth and, above all, Joyce’s humanity.
This is in many ways a traditional salute to Joyce, and the author depicts a
‘paradoxical sense of a conservative Joyce’ (p. 12): a writer who ‘lends himself well
to new approaches’ but who ‘transcends … a particular time’ (p. 12). This last claim
may perhaps account for the subtitle, which is itself the title of the final essay of the
book (in fact, this essay bears the book’s title, inverted), and is perhaps the most
revealing of Levitt’s approach. In the foreword to this essay, Levitt argues for
reading Joyce as a modernist rather than a postmodernist, and for his continued
belief in ‘the literary and human values which I find in Joyce, and which to me are
the essence of Modernism’ (p. 263). Precisely what these values are Levitt does not
say, but the title is telling enough; Levitt’s Joyce is hardly a middle-class Irish
Catholic of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries at all; he is, rather, the
embodiment of a European high art, the ‘aura’ (p. 272) that has inspired numerous
others. One interesting offshoot of Levitt’s collection is the practice of appending a
few autobiographical pages to each essay, as these themselves provide an insider’s
fragmentary account of the burgeoning industry of Joyceans.
A new and thorough work by Weldon Thornton, Voices and Values in Joyce’s
Ulysses, returns to the familiar critical terrain of the novel’s stylistic variety.
Thornton argues that the point of the range of styles in the latter part of the book is
not to illustrate some form of linguistic relativism but to highlight ‘how inept each
of these styles is in comparison with the initial style’ (p. 2). This is most clearly
brought out in Thornton’s analysis of the ‘Cyclops’ episode, wherein the ‘secondary
narrative voice’ is seen to expose the ‘hollowness’ (p. 40) of an undiscriminating
parodic tone, a voice that parodies all values including pacifism and love. The initial
style, by contrast, is taken to affirm certain values in its choice of event, vocabulary
and method. So the values hereby affirmed include the ‘sincerity and commitment

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and intellectual courage’ of Stephen, Bloom’s openness and concern for others, and
a critique of Mulligan’s ‘materialism, mockery, and cynicism’ (p. 39). The initial
style, it is argued, thus provides ‘a normative base that underlies … the later
episodes’. Such a reading produces a Ulysses that is very much character- and story-
based, a novel that many of its early readers and some today would not recognize as
the same book. The initial style is praised by Thornton for its careful replication of
a cultural milieu and for ‘subverting modernist dualisms’ (what, precisely?), but,
what, then is the point of the later styles if the initial style ‘fulfills Joyce’s purposes
so effectively’ (p. 97)? Thornton numbers among those later styles both the ‘Aeolus’
and ‘Wandering Rocks’ chapters. The latter is read as a critique of the narrative
viewpoint which presents a fragmentary urban experience or ‘mechanical view of
the city’ (p. 137). In support of this reading, Thornton cites the several acts of
kindness by various characters in the chapter, the narrator’s ‘errors’ (‘deceptions’
would be a better word) and the ‘more positive image’ of Dublin ‘offered by the
novel as a whole’ (p. 142), although such evidence is itself misleading since it means
a very limited appraisal of Father Conmee (for instance) and a highly contentious
assessment of Joyce’s Dublin. If there are broader questions that might be posed of
Thornton’s thesis, this is nonetheless a carefully plotted book, richly laced with
detailed allusion and close readings of all the chapters, thankfully in an
argumentative order and not in the pattern of the book. Questionable as its argument
may be, this is still a very handy guide for students and teachers, which includes
careful assessments of much previous work on this topic.
It is perhaps surprising that relatively few specific studies of Ulysses have
appeared this year. However, a bibliographical commentary, Recent Criticism of
James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’: An Analytic Review by Michael Patrick Gillespie and
Paula F. Gillespie, does provide an extensive updating of similar projects. It carries
chapters on reader response and post-structuralist thought, gender and sexuality,
psychological readings, cultural and post-colonial criticism, and the editions of
Ulysses. This is perhaps a starting-point for students bewildered by a whole library
of Joyce scholarship, providing one- or two-page summaries of many recent titles,
but the coverage is not comprehensive, so it does not really suit research purposes.
The chapter that includes discussion of even ‘unalloyed deconstruction’ (p. 23), for
instance, omits all mention of Derrida’s essay, ‘Ulysses Gramophone’.
If the parodies in Ulysses represent, for Thornton, a perversion of the normative
initial style, then for Christy L. Burns parody means something quite different. Her
book, Gestural Politics: Stereotype and Parody in Joyce, defines parody as ‘an
unstable representation that itself never fully masters any law or object’ (p. 10).
Thus defined, parody includes the very act of writing a text such as Ulysses, as well
as such examples as Bloom’s engendered performative character. Parody, then,
becomes less a description of a remodelling of a prior text and more a state of
becoming, and as such can be widely applied. Burns’s argument takes in Joyce’s
representations of women, gays and Irish nationalism, as well as attempting an
overview of Joyce’s aesthetics. She finds that Joyce gestures towards stereotypes in
such a manner that they are both reinforced and ironically undermined. As
stereotypes usually operate in a humorous way in Joyce’s writing, this also involves
Burns in a catalogue of Joycean comedies. Perhaps Joyce’s serious stereotypes
would have provided an interesting topic as well? She investigates Joyce’s relation
to the theories of gesture propounded by Mercel Jousse in the 1920s, and develops a

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notion of gesture wherein ‘the limits of bodily gesture and material sensations’ (p.
1) are exposed as semantic blindspots that reveal a textual politics. Burns concludes
by turning this onto textual materiality—the very printed embodiment of physical
language. It is no surprise that the argument is based mainly upon readings of
Finnegans Wake.
While Burns has discussed some of the ambivalent stereotyping of Joyce’s
politics, the issue is also central to some more studies of Joyce’s depictions of
Jewishness. In ‘Bloodsucking Bloom: Vampirism as a Representation of Jewishness
in Ulysses’ (JJQ 36:iv[1999] 981–97), Lori B. Harrison focuses on the ambiguities
of the vampire-figure as both Jewish and Irish, dead and alive. Richard Beckman, in
‘Joyce’s Ungentlemen’s Club (for Jews and Dandies)’ (JJQ 36:iv[1999] 799–812),
offers a social critique of ‘the gentleman’ in ethical and class terms, noting that
Bloom and Earwicker are not ‘gentlemen’. Another side to Joyce’s sometimes
uncomfortable stereotyping is discussed by Willy Maley in ‘Kilt by kelt shell
kithagain with kinagain”: Joyce and Scotland’ (in Attridge and Howes, eds.). Maley
argues that Scotland is portrayed by Joyce as a ‘sister subject nation who has, in
order to curry favour with England, betrayed her Hibernian sibling’ (p. 209).
In addition to Thornton’s study of narrative voice in Ulysses, the prolific and
improving Florida James Joyce series has produced two more books this year. One
of these, Joyce’s Comic Portrait by Roy Gottfried, sets out to do for Joyce’s first
novel what others have done for Joyce’s later novels, that is, to show that A Portrait
is also a comic work. Rather than the familiar Dedalian rhythm of rise and fall, of
progression and irony, Gottfried argues that the narrative also carries ‘an alternate
motion of tumbling’—‘a pratfall rather than a tragic fall’ (p. 3). He shows how
educative institutions normally regarded as key to the serious Bildungsroman are
also sites of comic subversion, not necessarily by Stephen but certainly in others’
voices. Hence the Portrait of artistry and irony is also one of vulgarity and humour.
Stephen is, in Gottfried’s terms, two-headed, much as the language of the novel
contains ‘a comic doubleness of diction’ (p. 47), a narrative conflation of ‘the lofty
… with the low’ (p. 55). The middle chapter is a speculative diversion into possible
humorous contexts, arguing that Joyce did not do all his reading in Marsh’s Library,
but was also ‘likely to have read’ (p. 84) such popular journals as the Dublin
Illustrograph, from whose articles he was able to concoct enough slang and
innuendo to service his ready wit. Joyce also read the columns of one Edgar Wallace
in the Daily Mail, and Gottfried argues that these were also part of the potential
comic context within which A Portrait was written. The final two chapters return to
textual analysis, of both Stephen Hero and, briefly, Ulysses. In a sparse year for
Portrait publications, Gottfried has produced a bold and imaginative book with an
original and well-researched thesis.
The other Florida publication, R.J. Schork’s Joyce and Hagiography: Saints
Above!, is a collected narrative of many years’ research and publications
documenting Joyce’s use of the literature of sainthood, from the apostles to ‘a newly
canonised Passionist priest’ (p. xi) as they appear in the fiction or fleetingly pass
through his correspondence. Schork presents such a wealth of material relating to
Joyce’s Jesuitical teaching and esoteric reading, as well as to centuries of Catholic
canonization, that this book will probably be the standard work on its topic for many
years. It is not strictly a reference work, being told in a narrative elucidation, yet its
detail is such that it will provide a useful supplement to other Joycean reference

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tomes, notably for Finnegans Wake, with which most of this study is concerned.
One of the most interesting saints in Joyce’s work is of course Joyce himself (there
is a brief chapter on fictitious saints), and this unofficial St James rubs shoulders
with Stephen, the first martyr, and Patrick and Kevin, as well as lesser-known holy
men, as in the tradition of the ‘hairy hermit’. Schork also adds a calendar of feast-
days as they appear in Joyce’s work. In sum, this is a helpful volume, of interest to
the curious browser and the specialist researcher.
In a lean year for genetic criticism, two articles in the dependable Joyce Studies
Annual stand out. Finn Fordham’s ‘Mapping Echoland’ (JoyceSA 11[2000] 167–
201), provides a new and interesting method within genetic analyses. Fordham takes
one element from the text—in this case the title itself—and traces its revisions
through Joyce’s drafts, rather than, as is more usually the case in genetic work,
through the notebooks. This method provides a ‘hidden narrative’ (p. 169) of a
motif’s evolution, potentially allowing for a cultural-contextual reading beyond
most genetic practices. In ‘Joyce’s Sources: Sir Richard F. Burton’s Terminal Essay
in Finnegans Wake’ (JoyceSA 11[2000] 124–66) Aida Yared shows, through an
analysis of the Wake notebooks, that at three different compositional stages Joyce
read Burton’s Terminal Essay (attached to his seventeen-volume translation of the
Arabian Nights, and which Joyce owned in his Trieste library), and Yared helpfully
provides transcriptions of these notebook allusions. Other essays on Joyce’s last
work include ‘In the “Numifeed Confusionary”: Reading the Negative Confession
of Finnegans Wake’ (JNT 30:i[2000] 55–95) by Damon Franke, a treatment of
confession and denial in the Wake’s narrative, and Strother B. Purdy’s positive
answer to his own question in ‘Is There a Multiverse in Finnegans Wake, and Does
That Make it a Religious Book?’ (JJQ 36:iii[1999] 587–602).
Several essays have once more treated issues of translation. Aiping Zhang
discusses Xiao’s rendition of Ulysses in ‘Faithfulness through Alterations: The
Chinese Translation of Molly’s Soliloquy in James Joyce’s Ulysses’ (JJQ
36:iii[1999] 571–86), while Friedhelm Rathjen offers some comparative sample
passages and a commentary on translators’ methods in ‘Sprakin sea Djoytsch?
Finnegans Wake into German’ (JJQ 36:iv[1999] 905–916). In ‘Universalizing
Languages: Finnegans Wake meets Basic English’ (JJQ 36:iv[1999] 853–68),
Susan Shaw Sailer looks at C.K. Ogden’s Basic English version of I.8 that appeared
in transition [March 1932].

3. Post-1945 Fiction

Jane Dunn’s biography of Antonia White, first published by Jonathan Cape [1998],
has been re-issued by Virago in paperback. There are only two previous biographies
of White, written by her daughters, Susan Chitty (Now to my Mother [1985]) and
Lyndall Hopkinson (Nothing to Forgive [1988]). Both have very obvious familial
axes to grind, and caused some controversy when they were published. Dunn’s
biography is thus the first thorough attempt at the history of the complex and
fascinating life of Antonia White. There is much to savour in this biography, which
is meticulously researched and fluently written. Dunn explores carefully and
perceptively the impact on White of her childhood conversion to Catholicism, her
long and painful struggle with mental illness, her turbulent emotional life, including

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her brief and doomed marriages, and her constant feeling that she had failed as a
woman. Dunn leaves the task of literary analysis and commentary to other hands,
and is unapologetic about reading White’s fiction for what it might tell us about her
psychological, sexual and emotional life. She has a keen eye for a good story,
however, and begins with a wonderful, extraordinary story of White’s funeral
service, during which a black cat entered the church and circled around the coffin,
and reappeared at the graveside as White’s coffin lay in the ground. This seemed to
confirm to White’s mourners, who knew of her passion for cats, that ‘the cat had
been sent by her as a sign of approval’ (p. 1). Dunn later recounts the story of a
Society of Authors party in 1960, at which White was serially misrecognized as
Noel Streatfield, Antonia Ridge, and then told by Rebecca West’s husband ‘I have
never forgotten that delightful book of yours about the Three Rivers of France’ (p.
375). Virago played a crucial role in rescuing White from such obscurity, and have
thankfully issued Dunn’s biography in paperback. This is an invaluable source for
all those interested in White, and may even succeed in returning readers to such
soulful, searching novels as Frost in May and The Lost Traveller.
Jeremy Gibson began working towards a critical study of the writings of Peter
Ackroyd prior to his tragic death in 1996, and Julian Wolfreys was asked to develop
and complete this work, which has now been published as Peter Ackroyd: The Ludic
and Labyrinthine Text. The authors exhibit at every turn a shared love of Ackroyd’s
writing, which creates a peculiar and fascinating tension between the deconstructive
mode of exegesis, familiar certainly from Wolfreys’ other work, and the concern of
the authors to pay homage and respect to Ackroyd. The book includes three
generous interviews with Ackroyd, and his reviews and critical writings are quoted
favourably throughout the book. This might lead to the impression that the authors
are too ‘close’ to their subject, although they prefer to think of it as a kind of
reciprocity between writer and critic, part of what is discussed in the introduction as
‘a very serious game’ between text and critical contexts. The discussion of the
critical reception of Ackroyd’s writings tends to sneer a little too much at
curmudgeonly English reviewers, but once the authors embark upon their own
forays into the ‘ludic and labyrinthine’ in Ackroyd they mine some rich seams of
thought and analysis. The focus of the book is primarily the novels, although there
is a chapter on Ackroyd’s three volumes of poetry, and several biographies are
discussed in a chapter on Ackroyd’s London. The chapter on London, indeed, is a
brilliant exploration of the density and complexity of the city as it is woven through
the intricate patterns of Ackroyd’s writings. The authors argue that Ackroyd has
been consistently concerned with a particular kind of stylized Englishness, often
camp or theatrical, and that his writings continue to address and complicate issues of
representation, identity and culture in contemporary England.
G. Peter Winnington’s Vast Alchemies: The Life and Work of Mervyn Peake is
one of two biographies of Peake which have appeared this year (Malcolm Yorke’s
volume is reviewed in section 1(a) above). Winnington is the editor of Peake
Studies, and displays an impressively detailed knowledge of Peake’s life and work
in this volume. The emphasis tends to be on Peake’s development as an artist and
illustrator rather than his skills as a writer, and this leaves the book a little short
when it comes to detailed commentary and analysis of Peake’s literary works.
Winnington succeeds in providing a readable and lively account of Peake’s life and
creative achievements, and this biography will serve as an accurate and reliable

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source for Peake scholars. The pace of the narrative is, if anything, a little too lively.
Winnington does not dwell as long as he should on the significance of Peake’s
childhood years in China, nor on the traumatic effects on Peake of his visit to
Belsen. This is in part the result of Winnington’s reluctance to surmise or speculate
beyond the biographical facts which he can establish from letters, conversations or
other sources. The parallels between the early life of the Chinese boy emperor and
Titus Groan seem to me to be too ‘numerous and striking’, to use Winnington’s
words, to be anything but convincing, although Winnington can’t help cautioning
that ‘it may just be a coincidence’ (p. 31).
The death of Iris Murdoch in 1999 inevitably prompted some reassessment and
revaluation of her work, particularly the twenty-six novels she wrote between 1954
and 1995. In Psychological and Religious Narratives in Iris Murdoch’s Fiction,
Robert Hardy begins such a reassessment in the predictable but productive domains
of Murdoch’s preoccupation with psychoanalysis and theology. Hardy is especially
concerned with Murdoch’s exploration of the possibilities for the future of religion
after belief in God has died, and of the problems of moral psychology. This takes the
form of a more detailed examination of Murdoch’s use of, and approaches to,
Freudian and Jungian theories of psychology, as well as close readings of the moral
universe of Murdoch’s fiction. Hardy does not just treat Murdoch’s novels as case
studies for working through the rudiments of a godless morality, however. He is also
attentive to the personae and masks of her fiction, and analyses Murdoch’s
psychoanalytic interest in the stories that her characters tell about themselves. Hardy
reads Murdoch’s novels in conjunction with Freud’s texts—The Message to the
Planet in relation to Moses and Monotheism, for instance—to show how close
Murdoch was to Freud’s arguments, but returns in the conclusion to Murdoch’s
ambivalent relationship to Jung’s theories to show how indispensable
psychoanalytic ideas became to her attempt to think through a humanist morality.
Hardy’s book also contains a preface by Bran Nicol which sets the current contexts
for studying Murdoch’s fiction.
Penelope Fritzer’s Ethnicity and Gender in the Barsetshire Novels of Angela
Thirkell is a short but valuable study of Thirkell’s twenty-nine novels of social
satire, written between 1933 and 1960. In contrast to other Thirkell commentators,
Fritzer argues that Thirkell is at her best in the novels written in and about the
immediate post-war years, when the ‘brave new world’ ushered in by the Labour
government provided a rich source of satire for her conservative, nostalgic
sensibility. It is perhaps in this spirit that Fritzer refers to Thirkell’s ‘rediscovered
significance as a writer’, and celebrates her work as ‘marvellous social history in
addition to charming fiction’ (p. 17), although, to be fair, Fritzer also gives voice to
those critics who have found the sexism, classism, and racism of her work a barrier
to appreciation. The book is neatly divided into an introduction, about forty pages on
ethnicity, about forty pages on gender, and a conclusion. The chapters on ethnicity
and gender are jaunty summaries of various references and representations
throughout the novels. In the case of ethnicity, for example, Fritzer trawls through
the various allusions to Jewish, Irish, German, Scottish, Welsh, American, and, of
course, English characteristics, to the empire and the war in Europe, to ‘foreigners’,
and discusses the nature of Thirkell’s patriotism. For Fritzer, Thirkell’s
preoccupation with ethnicity, and her mockery of various ethnic groups, is to be
thought of as humorous: ‘to take umbrage is to miss the point’ (p. 58). Thirkell can

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apparently be excused from any accusation of xenophobia or racism because she


treats English characters to the same degree of mockery as foreigners. The chapter
on gender focuses on the representation of ‘couples’ in Thirkell’s novels, her
benign, oblique allusions to homosexuality (e.g. ‘unusual friends’), and her scornful
treatment of educated or career women. Fritzer explains the absence of ‘feminist’
points of view as the product of Thirkell’s time and setting, but this is far from
adequate as an understanding of Thirkell’s conservative treatment of gender
relations. Fritzer concludes by encouraging ‘the discerning reader’ to judge
Thirkell’s work ‘consonant with its chronological context’ (p. 110). This rather
deviously implies that Thirkell’s time was as conservative, xenophobic and sexist as
her fictions. If Thirkell’s more unseemly views are to be excused by their time,
Fritzer might at least take care to present a more detailed and nuanced examination
of the period.
Maroula Joannou’s Contemporary Women’s Writing: From ‘The Golden
Notebook’ to ‘The Color Purple’ surveys the concerns and achievements of British
and American women writers between 1962 and 1982. It is deeply rooted in the
experiences of student radicalism and the women’s movements of the 1960s and
1970s, and combines expert, persuasive analyses of a wide range of women’s
writing with a subtle reading of the politics of difference that emerged from that
time. Joannou chooses to focus on ‘woman-centred writing’ rather than ‘feminist
writing’, and argues that ‘feminist’ is a problematic term in relation to fiction. This
enables Joannou greater flexibility in addressing feminist concerns in ‘even the most
unpromising of woman-centred texts’ (p. 11). Joannou’s knowledge of the period
extends far beyond the obvious landmarks, and insists on the centrality of ‘popular’
genres—detective fiction, science fiction, and confessional writing—to a fuller
understanding of women’s writing (and women’s reading). Chapters on
motherhood, working-class women, ‘commonwealth’ writers, and black writing
interrogate the intersections of gender, class, nation, post-colonialism and sexuality,
while a chapter on ‘continuities and change’ considers the women’s writing of the
period in relation to notions of tradition and experimentation. The distinguishing
features of Joannou’s book are the lucidity and breadth of her analyses, which
contain important considerations of writers as diverse as Pat Barker, Nell Dunn,
Margaret Drabble, Lynne Reid Banks, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Buchi Emecheta, Jean
Rhys, Ursula Le Guin, Anita Brookner, and Angela Carter, to name just some. This
is an important, reliable and erudite assessment of women’s writing in the 1960s and
1970s, and will become one of the standard authorities on this period. Joannou
concludes with a careful, judicious estimation of the likely reception of women’s
writing in the twenty-first century: ‘The reader of women’s fiction in the twenty-
first century is likely to be faced with a disjunction between a sophisticated and
potentially liberating understanding of the unstable nature of all gendered and sexual
identities and of the institutions that sustain them, which is offered to her by a
combination of post-structuralist ideas and feminist theory, and a desire for more
permanent identities and representations to contest the demeaning and restricted
views of women which have historically prevailed’ (p. 191).
There is no more important issue than food—as a material and symbolic activity,
as the core of our self-identity, as a major part of our social and cultural rituals, as a
political and economic matter. It is an important concern in contemporary feminism,
as food and eating are inevitably caught up in discourses of mothering, the body,

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sexuality, and home. It seems such an obviously fundamental issue that it is difficult
to understand why Sarah Sceats’s book, Food, Consumption and the Body in
Contemporary Women’s Fiction, is without immediate comparisons or precursors.
Sceats is conscious of this, and provides a thorough, lucid account of the cultural and
symbolic significance of food and eating, as well as tracing how food functions in
the novels of Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, and to a lesser extent
Michèle Roberts and Alice Thomas Ellis. The ingredients for Sceats’s recipe, if
you’ll pardon the metaphor, are all in place: Foucault and Kristeva on the body,
Barthes on social ritual, Chodorow on mothering, Freud and Klein on sexuality, and
an array of feminist and psychoanalytic writing on breast-feeding, food, fat, eating
disorders, desire and consumption. Sceats’s achievement in this book is to bring two
narratives together, in a sense, the story of the cultural meanings of food and eating,
and the story of how contemporary women writers have employed food as a
symbolic signifier of forms of love, power and communication. These intertwined
narratives follow a trajectory from the individual focus of the first three chapters to
the social, communal focus of the last three. In the conclusion Sceats recognizes that
social practices of food consumption are subject to sweeping global forces of
change, and ponders the impact of such change on the idea of food as a language, as
a form of social exchange. Her deductions in the book generally are neither startling
nor radical, but provide an intelligent and cogent assessment of the centrality of food
to contemporary women’s fiction.
Tamás Bényei’s Acts of Attention: Figure and Narrative in Postwar British
Novels is not so much a book as five essays bound together. There are no
connections made between the chapters, no conclusion, and the introduction is short
and makes no claims to advancing a thesis or overview of post-war British fiction.
The essays are, however, wonderfully attentive and incisive in their analysis of
novels by Evelyn Waugh, John Fowles, William Golding, Jeanette Winterson, and
Ian McEwan. Bényei approaches each novel from the perspectives of postmodern
narratology, focusing in each chapter on distinct tropes and modes of narrative.
Brideshead Revisited is explored as ‘an allegory of mourning’, its apparently
Bildung narrative form paradoxically consists of a strongly nostalgic mode. The
French Lieutenant’s Woman is also read as an allegory, this time of the narrative
process itself, particularly in the novel’s simultaneous deployment of narrative
authority and seduction. William Golding’s sea trilogy is examined for its concern
with ‘the tropological, figurative nature of the way we make sense of the world’,
what it means to be ‘in’ language. The shortest chapter in the book regards
Winterson’s The Passion as a novel which constantly attempts to lose its way, and
‘risks itself’, as an exemplary narrative mode of auto-deconstructive criticism. The
final chapter considers the parallel stories in Ian McEwan’s The Innocent, and how
any attempt to map the relationship between the two stories collapses. This leads
Bényei to interrogate ‘the place between’ narrative, the interstitial spaces through
which narrative fails or falters, as a way of thinking about deconstructive narrative
strategies. Perhaps a more general overview or thesis might have done more damage
than good in this case, for Bényei’s essays work well by exploring the singular
narrative modes and strategies at work in each of his texts. The assiduous attention
Bényei pays to each text makes for rewarding, perceptive reading, and this book, or
at least each of its essays, makes valuable contributions to understanding narrative
modes in post-war British fiction.

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James Maurice Ivory’s Identity and Metamorphoses in Twentieth-Century British


Literature examines figures of metamorphoses in five fictional texts: Kafka’s The
Metamorphosis, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography, Angela Carter’s The
Passion of New Eve, James Joyce’s Ulysses and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic
Verses. The inclusion of Kafka rather disturbs the coherence of Ivory’s field of
study; one could equally argue that the ‘British’ in the title is not quite appropriate
either to encompass the work of Joyce and Rushdie. After the chapter on Kafka,
which analyses the social and economic contexts of Gregor’s horrific
transformation, Ivory pairs chapters on Woolf and Carter for their shared concern
with gendered identities and gender-crossing, and chapters on Joyce and Rushdie for
common interests in mobilizing tropes of hybridity and plurality in the service of a
post-colonial politics. The chapters on Carter and Rushdie are lamentably short,
which tends to make Ivory’s general claims somewhat imbalanced. The overview
provided in the conclusion does little to formulate theories or speculations about the
function of figures of metamorphoses in twentieth-century ‘British’ literature, which
is also to say that the value of Ivory’s book lies in his close readings of such figures.
There is a more general thesis to be sought out in Ivory’s subject-matter, which is the
political function of figures of transformation in the writings of feminist and post-
colonial writers, but Ivory’s conclusion can only advance tentative and vague
suggestions as to what this might entail.
There are several overlapping themes developed in Valerie Krips’s The Presence
of the Past: Memory, Heritage, and Childhood in Postwar Britain. Krips shares with
many recent cultural commentators an interest in themes of loss, mourning and
nostalgia in post-war British culture, and the materialization of those themes in the
heritage industry. She is also interested in the ambivalent and shifting condition of
‘memory’ in post-war culture, as a site of both reassurance and disquiet. She
combines these themes brilliantly and persuasively in the study of children’s fiction,
as it has been read, produced and fetishized in post-war Britain. The result is a subtle
account of the contemporary fascination with children’s literature, not just for the
appeal of its stories, but for the ways in which children’s books have become
cultural artefacts and heritage objects. Krips considers for the most part the fiction
produced for children between the 1950s and 1980s, by such authors as Philippa
Pearce, Rosemary Sutcliff, Susan Cooper, and Alan Garner. But there is almost as
much discussion of the editions, interpretations and cultural resonances of earlier
writers such as Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, Frances Hodgson Burnett and Kenneth
Grahame. In particular, Krips astutely acknowledges that children’s literature is
characterized by ‘dialectic engagement as it responds to adult memory and to
childhood understood in terms of a personal and collective past’ (p. 25). It straddles
the times of adult past and childhood present, and this, for Krips, makes it peculiarly
well suited to an exploration of the cultural functions of memory and ‘living
history’. There are occasions in Krips’s book when the various strands of her
enquiry pull apart, so that it seems as though there is a brief narrative of post-war
history followed by an analysis of a piece of children’s literature. In general,
however, she succeeds in weaving into a cogent study an important and complex
configuration of themes. In examining this period of children’s literature in relation
to themes of nostalgia, memory and commodity fetishism, Krips is also, of course,
reflecting on issues very pertinent to more recent times, and one cannot help but
wonder how current debates about J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman might fit with

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her analyses. Finally, I could quibble that Krips’s chapter on editions of ‘classic’
children’s texts should include a few plates showing the illustrations and cover
designs she discusses, but perhaps I would then be accused (justifiably) of the
fetishism she associates with such editions.
Christianson and Lumsden, eds., Contemporary Scottish Women Writers, is a
collection of exploratory essays on a very underdeveloped critical field. This is
reflected in the introductory nature of many of the essays, which cover Kathleen
Jamie, Liz Lochhead, Sharman Macdonald, Sue Glover, Rona Munro, Lara Jane
Bunting, Jackie Kay, Muriel Spark, Candia McWilliam, Agnes Owen, Emma
Tennant, Elspeth Barker, Alice Thompson, Janice Galloway, and A.L. Kennedy,
among others. The introduction admits a degree of shyness about considering these
writers under the rubric of ‘Scottishness’, and indeed this seems to form something
of a dilemma for some of the contributors. The ‘nation’ as a construct has been
profoundly questioned and revised in contemporary critical theory, which
perspective informs many of these essays, but the newly emergent political
formations in Scotland have prompted interest in what comprises Scottishness and
Scottish literature (not least in the two volumes reviewed here, and Anderson and
Christianson’s volume reviewed in section 1(a)). The editors recognize that this
issue of how Scottish women writers are addressing their relationship to political
and cultural nationalism is complicated by matters of gender, language, race,
location, class, sexuality, and so on, to the extent that some writers considered in the
volume (A.L. Kennedy is the most notable example) resist the very label of
‘Scottishness’. To be fair, most of the essays don’t really insist on the obvious issues
of identity, but the agenda is there nonetheless in Margery Palmer McCulloch’s
essay on tradition in Scottish women’s poetry, Helen Boden’s consideration of
‘Kathleen Jamie’s Semiotic of Scotlands’, Susan Triesman’s essay on Sharman
Macdonald, and Alison Lumsden’s essay on Scottish women’s short stories. One
problem for the editors is that, in avoiding making any definitive statements or even
advancing a hypothesis about what kind of Scotland or Scottishness emerges from
contemporary women’s writing, the only alternative seems to be a rather slack
celebration of variety: ‘What perhaps is most notable about Scottish women writers
today is their diversity; they write in a number of styles and genres and take as their
subject-matter a wide variety of themes’. This is to say that there is nothing ‘notable’
about them as Scottish writers at all. It is difficult, of course, to identify trends in the
contemporary, but there is much more to be said on the matter than this volume
manages to articulate.
Cairns Craig’s study, The Modern Scottish Novel: Narrative and the National
Imagination [1999], is much more assured in placing Scottish literature within a
particular configuration of social, cultural, linguistic, religious and historical
contexts. This is an ambitious, impressive and hugely enjoyable exploration of the
recurrent themes, concerns and styles of modern Scottish novels, from John Buchan
and Neil Gunn to the more recent flourishing of Scottish writing from A.L.
Kennedy, Alasdair Gray, Janice Galloway, James Kelman, Irvine Welsh, Muriel
Spark and many others. This is no chronologically ordered narrative of Scottish
literary history, but an authoritative and inspiring consideration of how Scottish
novelists in the twentieth century examined notions of community, history,
imagination, language, dialect, faith, and art. Craig shows how the prevailing
historical and cultural conditions in modern Scotland have produced inventive

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adaptations of the novel form, but also, correlatively, fictional experiments have had
their part to play in reimagining the conditions of Scotland’s cultural and political
existence. The introduction makes for an eminently sensible sifting of concepts of
tradition, narration, national imagination, and Scotland’s ‘predicament’, and
establishes solid foundations for the chapters to follow. In the book as a whole,
Craig proves himself to be widely knowledgeable about Scottish literature, culture
and history, a persuasive and subtle interpreter of texts of all kinds, and to possess
an astute and incisive ability to reveal the underlying continuities behind diverse
texts and contexts. The result is a reliable and rewarding study of Scottish fiction, an
outstanding contribution to research and understanding of Scottish literary studies.
Two volumes published in the Manchester Contemporary World Writers series
merit review here: Barry Lewis on Kazuo Ishiguro, and Elaine Yee Lin Ho on
Timothy Mo. Lewis sees Ishiguro as exemplary of a distinctly twentieth-century
mode of exile and estrangement, and argues that Ishiguro’s novels address the
struggle between displacement and dignity. The introduction sets out clearly
Ishiguro’s own sense of homelessness, and the various attempts by critics to ‘locate’
him in Japanese or English cultures. Lewis identifies the defining tendencies of
Ishiguro’s first three novels as ‘concision and stylistic reticence’, and concentration
on ‘a limited point of view, usually that of an unreliable narrator’, which he
abandoned in The Unconsoled for ‘a rambling picaresque style’. The book is
organized into chapters on each of the novels, and each chapter addresses fruitful
issues in Ishiguro’s work. How Japanese is his writing, for example? Lewis draws
from the tendency by reviewers to compare his early novels to various forms of
Japanese art, to argue that Ishiguro’s Japan is fictive, a self-consciously artificial
construct. He considers A Pale View of Hills in relation to Japanese ghost fictions,
An Artist of the Floating World in relation to Japanese cinema, and The Remains of
the Day as an exploration of the meanings of ‘dignity’, in which the character
Stevens sees himself as ‘a personal integer within a larger whole’. Lewis argues that
The Unconsoled seems to mark a break in Ishiguro’s work: it differs from the first
three novels in style, and yet concludes that it continues Ishiguro’s exploration of
memory as the figurative projection of a world ‘uncertain, quivering, and subject to
erasures and displacements’. The penultimate chapter of the book attempts an
overview of Ishiguro’s literary career, which proves illuminating. Lewis argues that
the pattern of his work to date can be described as ‘sequent repetition-with-
variation’, and defends the virtues of The Unconsoled, which received damning
reviews when it was published in 1995. In the postscript, Lewis argues that
Ishiguro’s most recent novel, When We Were Orphans, merges the restrained
realism of his first three novels with the dreamscapes of The Unconsoled. This book
is a splendidly lucid account of Ishiguro’s preoccupations and styles, which makes
intelligent commentaries on the cultural contexts and formal innovations of the
writer’s work.
Elaine Yee Lin Ho’s book on Timothy Mo bears some similarities to Lewis’s
book on Ishiguro. Both novelists were received initially in England principally
through the optic of the ethnic or cultural configurations which formed the subject
of their early publications. Both Ho and Lewis are concerned with displacing the
misguided assumptions which prevail in early reviews of their respective authors’
work, particularly the idea that novels such as Mo’s The Monkey King, or Sour
Sweet, or Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills, are ‘representative’ of Chinese or

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Japanese culture generally. Ho argues convincingly that Mo’s novels offer


‘substantive and riotous critique’ of such confusions, and explore the complexity of
cultural and ethnic identities. The Monkey King and Sour Sweet exist both as satires
on ‘Chinese’ culture, and as interrogations of the cultural interchange between
Chinese and other cultures in the cultural melting-pots of Hong Kong and London.
From these ‘domestic’ narratives, Mo moves into a mediated form of the historical
novel in An Insular Possession and The Redundancy of Courage, but Ho argues that
Mo’s theme remains the difficulty of cross-cultural relations. Both novels, however,
also develop a critique of the conventions of historical and political representation,
and offer sceptical counter-narratives to the discourses of imperialism and
nationalism. Ho illuminates the publishing controversy surrounding Mo’s fifth
novel, Brownout on Breadfruit Boulevard, and the surprising redirections in style
and form which characterize the novel, and which presage his most recent work,
Renegade or Halo. Ho’s assessment of Timothy Mo’s work is a valuable and astute
introduction, a very welcome evaluation of a writer who has to date received scant
critical attention.
In contrast, Martin Amis suffers perhaps from too much attention, critical or
otherwise. Nicolas Tredell has sampled reviews and critical essays of all Amis’s
fictional works for The Fiction of Martin Amis: A Reader’s Guide to Essential
Criticism, from the Icon series of readers’ guides. This is a useful volume for
students, as it provides extracts from most of the more significant appraisals of
Amis’s writings, and Tredell narrates the story of Amis’s development, and the
evolving reactions to his work and public image. He emphasizes from the outset that
Amis is a controversial figure in contemporary media and literary circles, and some
of the extracts are selected for their part in the controversies. For the most part,
however, Tredell selects and introduces the extracts for the critical issues they raise.
Responses to The Rachel Papers tend to focus on how close Amis is to his
protagonist, Charles Highway. The reviews and essays on Dead Babies consider
whether the novel works as Menippean satire or not. Reviewers of Success attempt
to assess how successful Amis has become as a writer. Other People is discussed as
a ‘martian’ text, with Blake Morrison observing that ‘Martin Amis’ is an anagram of
‘Martianism’. Money opens up debate about the relationship between English and
North American cultures, and about the intrusive author in contemporary fiction.
The chapter on Einstein’s Monsters includes Adam Mars-Jones’s attack on Amis’s
masculine posturing, while the chapter on London Fields opens with discussions of
why the novel was excluded from the Booker short-list, before advancing to themes
of apocalypse and authorship. The pieces on Time’s Arrow reflect on Amis’s
responsible handling of the Holocaust, while Tredell studiously avoids the publicity
wrangles which dog considerations of The Information. The final chapter on Night
Train and the Heavy Water stories testifies to Amis’s continuing power to provoke
contrasting, and controversial, responses. Tredell makes a good job of selection,
editing prudently and generously as required, and splices the extracts together well.
The introduction to the volume could have been more substantial, however, as
Tredell offers little more than an overview of Amis’s career, and a rather redundant
summary of the extracts included in each chapter.
It is more fulfilling, however, to read a collection of complete essays, rather than
the fragments offered in the Icon readers’ guides, and this is what Macmillan’s New
Casebooks series is all about. Alison Easton has edited the collection of

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‘contemporary critical essays’ on Angela Carter. Her introduction provides a good,


lucid overview of Carter’s current critical standing, and the ten essays in the volume
span the range of critical approaches to her work reasonably well. They are all
feminist essays, perhaps expectedly so, and they will all be familiar to students of
Carter’s work: they are by Mary Russo, Gerardine Meaney, Sally Keenan, Merja
Makinen, Jill Matus, Christina Britzolakis, Heather Johnson, Sally Robinson, Kate
Webb, and Jean Wyatt. The surprising absences are Lorna Sage and Clare Hanson,
who are quoted a number of times in the introduction, but not included. Carter’s
work has understandably attracted considerable attention, particularly in relation to
issues of gender, psychoanalysis, and myth, but, like Easton, I look forward to the
future critical work which will situate her more thoroughly in relation to historical
and cultural contexts. In terms of Carter’s current situation in literary criticism,
however, this collection offers much of the best work available. As a one-stop
volume of critical essays on Carter, Easton’s collection should find its place very
quickly on recommended reading lists.
Christopher Pressler’s So Far So Linear: Responses to the Work of Jeanette
Winterson is a short, underdeveloped appreciation of Winterson’s fiction. The
author acknowledges in the preface that the book is not ‘a strict piece of literary
criticism’, and this proves to be the case, for it combines suggestive readings with
partially explored contexts and cursory insights. Pressler pursues some clear theses:
that The Passion is better read as a new version of history than as a fairy tale, that in
Written on the Body Winterson is engaging medical language poetically, and that
Sexing the Cherry explores fundamental psychological oppositions in the brain; but
such theses tend to rely upon sketchy outlines of concepts derived from popular
science. There are ample signs of a close acquaintance with, and evident
appreciation of, Winterson’s work, but the book lacks the precision and coherence
which it might have achieved. As a result, its contentions are often woolly:
‘Winterson’s achievement is to have extended her imaginative processes into every
subject with which she deals.’
Winterson is the subject of the final chapter in Andrea L. Harris’s Other Sexes:
Rewriting Difference from Woolf to Winterson. Harris’s book examines the notion
that women writers have explored ‘the border between masculine and feminine, in
other words, the place where these terms overlap and intersect, forming other sexes
that cannot be described with the language at our disposal’ (p. xii). She does this
through an opening discussion of the ‘deconstructive feminism’ of Spivak, Butler,
Irigaray and others, followed by chapters on each of four novels: Virginia Woolf’s
The Waves, Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood, Marianne Hauser’s The Talking Room and
Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body. Much of Harris’s book is too heavily
descriptive, either of theoretical debates or fictional plots. In the chapter on
Winterson, she explains the novel’s exploration of the interrelationship between self
and other, and its theme of the ethics of love. Her chief argument in relation to the
novel is examined really rather briefly: it is that Winterson’s narrator is an
ambivalently gendered figure who is ‘feminine under the guise of the universal/
masculine’ (p. 146). The narrative voice is de-gendered, adopting the universal or
masculine subject position, and so would be disturbing from an Irigarayan point of
view. But it is also a radical, bold move, if we follow the logic of Monica Wittig, as
it liberates women from the burden of always being categorized by their sex. This is
clearly a productive ambivalence for Harris, but it deserves further explication.

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4. Pre-1950 Drama

The last two years have seen a resurgence of interest in the drama of the first half of
the twentieth century, and especially a renewed interest in the state of British theatre
between the wars. This interest has resulted in work that spans a number of areas of
theatre, including historiography, textual studies, gender, political drama and the
relationship between state censorship and drama. Barker and Gale, eds., British
Theatres Between the Wars, 1918–1939, covers many of theses areas in an attempt
to reposition inter-war theatre within histories of twentieth-century theatre as a
whole. Barker’s introductory essay, ‘Theatre and Society: The Edwardian Legacy,
the First World War and the Interwar Years’, analyses economic shifts in theatre
ownership and the effects of the aftermath of the First World War on the cultural
production of drama. Barker assesses the cultural legacy of the Edwardian period as
a shaping force for the drama of the 1920s and 1930s. Such spectacularly long-
running shows as Oscar Asche’s Chu Chin Chow are seen in the context of critical
snobbery about the loss of the pre-war ‘play of ideas’ and a gradual shift in the class
composition of audiences during the late 1910s and 1920s. The chapter continues by
looking at the groupings of types of play in production, such as the Aldwych
farces—mostly penned by Ben Travers—in the late 1920s and early 1930s. John
Stokes’s ‘Body Parts: The Success of the Thriller’ continues in this vein with a
focused analysis of the enormous numbers of thriller plays, popularized in the 1930s
by authors and actors (such as Emlyn Williams) alike. Stokes draws, again, parallels
between the social climate of the immediate post-war years and the cultural search
for somehow alienated or violent, yet clever, heroes in plays such as Bull-Dog
Drummond. The book also contains a number of chapters that focus on issues
around gender and performance: James Ross Moore gives an overview of musicals
and revue during the inter-war period, where the female body played a significant
role; while John F. Deeney, in ‘When Men were Men and Women were Women’,
looks at configurations of gender and sexuality in such plays as Journey’s End, The
Children’s Hour and Design For Living. Maggie B. Gale, in ‘Errant Nymphs:
Women and the Interwar Theatre’, reassesses women’s contributions to the British
inter-war stage, looking at the relationship between political and cultural change and
the increased presence of women as playwrights and directors. A number of chapters
turn to the specific relationship between politics and textual production. Tony
Howard looks at Shakespeare productions in direct relation to ideology in ‘Blood on
the Bright Young Things: Shakespeare in the 1930s’. Here he makes a correlation
between nationalist and fascist thinking, and the ways in which characters such as
Shylock were configured on the British stage. Ros Merkin, in ‘The Religion of
Socialism or a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon? The I.L.P. Arts Guild’, also turns to
politics in an analysis of the Independent Labour Party’s Arts Guild and the ways in
which social and political debate were directly encouraged within an arts context,
with performance groups being set up all over the country and plays being produced
as part of a bid to use drama in a consciousness-raising context. Mick Wallis brings
the book towards a close in his ‘Delving the Levels of Memory and Dressing Up in
the Past’, where he assesses the growth in popularity of pageant performances in
both rural and more urban contexts. Clive Barker’s closing chapter, ‘The Ghosts of
War: Stage Ghosts and Time Slips as a Response to War’, gives the reader a detailed
overview of the ways in which plays such as J.M. Barrie’s Mary Rose and

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Priestley’s Time and the Conways directly related to such cultural phenomena as a
growth in the number of Spiritualist churches in Britain and in ‘new science’ works
such as J.W. Dunne’s An Experiment with Time. Barker suggests that some dramas
of the period could be seen as indirect responses to war because of the ways in which
they play with time, memory, the dream, the paranormal and so on. This is a book
which will be useful to anyone undertaking literary research in this period, and is the
first to take on board the variety of types and contexts for British theatre and drama
between the wars. It covers a wide area of new materials and does not fall prey to the
dominance of canonical texts.
Mick Wallis continues his work on British pageantry by focusing on the life and
work of Mary Kelly, in ‘Unlocking the Secret Soul: Mary Kelly, Pioneer of Village
Theatre’ (NTQ 16:iv[2000] 347–58). Here he documents Kelly’s work with large
pageant productions, and her role as a moneyed woman within a rural community,
looking at the social and political consciousness she brought to her work, the breadth
and depth of which have been somewhat overlooked. Wallis also looks at Kelly’s
own theatre writings and assesses her legacy in relation to the growth in number of
amateur and professional pageants during the period and in the country as whole.
With a similar sense of political drive, Steve Nicholson’s British Theatre and the
Red Peril: The Portrayal of Communism, 1917–1945 is a welcome addition to the
field. The book looks at the ways in which stage representations of Russia,
bolshevism and ‘left thinking’ were constructed around the limitations of both
censorship and the British fear of a radical political change such as had been
witnessed during the Russian revolution. Nicholson points to the ways in which the
process of stage censorship operated at a subliminal level. His argument that good
plays were not written because of censorship is, however, somewhat tenuous,
although the fact that manuscripts were generally submitted to the censor’s office by
management appears to have acted as an inhibiting factor on playwrights—why
write a play that you know will be banned? Nicholson is careful to frame successes
such as the Phillpotts’ Yellow Sands in the context of anti-bolshevist feelings, but at
times his assumption that we should judge the worth of plays rather than offer
cultural readings or positionings is a little irritating. His readings of rarely discussed
plays such as Izrael Zangwill’s The Forcing House, Hubert Griffith’s Red Sunday
and Sean O’Casey’s The Star Turns Red are particularly useful, as is his dense
documentation of the ways in which the Russian aristocracy became an object of
fascination for theatre writers and audiences during the immediate post-
revolutionary years. The book contains a detailed glossary of playwrights and
production details and is derived in part from readings of the Lord Chamberlain’s
collection at the British Library. Such an approach to theatre historiography is to be
welcomed.
Nicholas de Jongh’s Politics, Prudery and Perversions: The Censoring of the
English Stage, 1901–1968, also makes use of the Lord Chamberlain’s collection but
has less of a focus on the early part of the twentieth century. Even so, his early
chapters, ‘Putting Women Straight’ and ‘Homosexual Relations’, will be of some
use to scholars working in the field. The former looks at issues around censorship
and women’s sexuality as well as giving useful analyses of the censor’s role in the
production of plays such as The Vortex and Fata Morgana. De Jongh is very witty
in his portrayal of the censor’s obsession with moral health and the ways in which
censorship as a mechanism for cultural policing got more and more out of touch with

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social and cultural change. With the statutory look at Wilde, ‘Homosexual
Relations’ does look briefly at inter-war texts, although a great part of the chapter
covers ground already covered by the author in his earlier Not in Front of the
Audience.
John F. Deeney, in ‘Censoring the Uncensored: The Case of Children in Uniform’
(NTQ 16:lxiii[2000] 219–26), takes a more radical attitude to censorship. Here he
re-examines a ‘lesbian’ inter-war text, Maids in Uniform, and questions the ways in
which this text has been overlooked by contemporary feminists because it somehow
escaped the censor’s eye and went on to a long West End run, and has thus tended to
be viewed as conservative. Deeney questions our analytical framing devices,
pointing out that a refusal to see the play as a link in a chain of twentieth-century
‘lesbian’ dramas is to undermine the significance of a work which confused the
censor (who eventually provided a performance licence as long as the ‘setting
remain German’) but presented very clear images of ‘other’ sexualities to a popular
and often conservative audience. Deeney proposes that a negative interpretation of
the play’s ending, which includes a suicide inspired by unfulfilled romantic passion,
cannot be the only axis on which a reading of the cultural significance of the text
turns.
A similar invitation to reposition women’s contributions to inter-war theatre and
drama comes in the form of Katherine Cockin’s Women and Theatre in the Age of
Suffrage: The Pioneer Players, 1911–1925. This is a very dense and at times
difficult book, although it represents original research and will be invaluable to
students of female suffrage and the arts. The style is at times convoluted and one
feels that the book could have achieved its aims in rather less space. Nevertheless
Cockin’s project, to collect information on Edith Craig’s work with the independent
play society the Pioneer Players, is a worthy one, and the introductory chapters, ‘The
Costs of a Free Theatre’ and ‘The Feminist Play of Ideas and the Art of Propaganda’,
will be particularly useful for undergraduates because of the way in which they lay
out the basic arguments surrounding drama, theatre, art, commercialism and
women’s suffrage that had currency during the period. Cockin makes a good job of
documenting Craig’s work with Cicely Hamilton and Christopher St John, as well as
her work with new texts by women playwrights and her promotion of texts by
foreign playwrights. She misses out on some important work by other scholars in the
field, such as Roberta Gandolfi, whose research on Craig as an innovative director
might have enhanced her thesis. Despite reservations about style, this book will
prove useful for anyone studying Edwardian theatre in general and women and
twentieth-century theatre in particular.
The work of women playwrights during this period has only been touched upon
by a few scholars, and a number of these have pointed to the ways in which non-
pluralistic feminist analytical frameworks have inhibited the inclusion of certain
plays in a history of twentieth-century women playwrights. Many of the women
writing for theatre of the period wrote for commercial contexts, or for political
movements which did not necessarily promote feminist ideology over socialist. Ros
Merkin’s chapter, ‘No Space of Our Own? Margaret Macnamara, Alma Brosnan,
Ruth Dodds and the I.L.P. Arts Guild’ (in Gale and Gardner, eds., Women Theatre
and Performance: New Histories, New Historiographies, pp. 180–97), is an attempt
to renegotiate the work of these three women, who wrote for an overtly socialist
context, as an important contribution to the development of popular and amateur

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mid-century drama. Merkin argues that gender played an important role in the plays
analysed, but that it was foregrounded as part of a larger argument around socialism
and domestic culture. Maggie B. Gale’s ‘Women Playwrights of the 1920s and
1930s’ (in Aston and Reinelt, The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women
Playwrights, pp. 23–37) presents women playwrights of the inter-war years as a
challenging presence to the male-dominated theatre of the day. Gale invites the
reader to reconsider the playwrights’ work in the light of the enormous social and
economic changes which, even though outside a specific political movement,
affected women’s lives in general, and their theatre writing in particular. She argues
that the surface conservatism of many of the plays reveals a theatrical consciousness
of the cultural anxiety around women and the family, work and economic power, as
well as mirroring the theatrical conservatism of much of the theatre of the day. John
Stokes also makes reference to the work of mid-century women playwrights in his
article ‘Prodigals or Profligates; or, a Short History of Modern British Drama’ (NTQ
15:i[1999] 26–38), which traces the transformations undergone by the figure of the
prodigal son (and daughter) in twentieth-century dramatic texts. Stokes’ argues for
the influence of performers such as John Gielgud and Charles Hawtrey on the course
of theatre history and the reading of theatrical texts.
Theatrical histories are problematized in Maggie B. Gale’s re-reading of the
career and persona of Clemence Dane, one of the most prolific playwrights, male or
female, from the 1920s through to the 1950s and beyond. Dane’s first play A Bill of
Divorcement [1921] was restaged throughout the 1920s and was filmed more than
once. Other noted plays included Granite and Cousin Muriel. In, ‘From Fame to
Obscurity: In Search of Clemence Dane’ (in Gale and Gardner eds., pp. 121–41),
Gale charts Dane’s influence upon the theatrical world of her day, and questions the
ways in which she has been either historically framed as conservative by feminists
or as eccentric or naive by those writing, for example, biographies of Noël Coward
(one of her crowd) or other theatrical figures such as Lewis Casson. Gale attempts
to cut through the mythology of Dane as an eccentric—she was reportedly the model
for Coward’s Madame Arcati in Blythe Spirit—and deconstructs her image in
relation to autobiographical theory and theatre historiography as a means of
understanding her lack of position in the cultural mapping of mid-twentieth-century
British theatre and playwriting.
One theatrical biography of particular note during the year has been Jonathan
Croall’s Gielgud: A Theatrical Life, 1904–2000. Croall’s extensive research has
produced a biography which offers the theatre and cultural historian some useful
materials. Croall undertook extensive interviews with Gielgud’s friends and
professional colleagues in order to draw a more intricately detailed picture of the
man’s life and work. He manages to track Gielgud’s career in terms of the influence
of practitioners such as Granville-Barker and J.B Fagan on the actor and vice versa,
and through this gives us a real sense of Gielgud’s developing attitude towards the
changing theatre of his day. The style is not particularly academic, but the research
is sound enough to provide useful material for scholars.
Christie Fox tackles the undervaluation of a mid-twentieth-century woman
playwright in ‘Neither Here Nor There: The Liminal Position of Teresa Deevy and
her Female Characters’ (in Watts, Morgan and Mustafa, eds., A Century of Irish
Drama: Widening the Stage, pp. 193–203). Fox delineates Deevy’s career and her
plays in terms of their problematic status for contemporary directors. Ultimately, as

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with many women playwrights of the period, the characters she created do not fit
into a contemporary feminist framework for production, and so the lack of desire to
put on new productions of her plays locates her work outside a re-visioned feminist
canon. Deevy’s work broke with certain conventions of the representation of women
in the theatre of the 1930s. Fox suggests that this ‘forgotten playwright’ imaged
women ‘caught between worlds—between the public and the private, religious and
secular, single and married’, in other words, she created characters for whom the
notion of womanhood itself was in transition. Fox’s work links with that of Gale and
of Merkin in its agenda of repositioning and re-visioning plays by a lost generation
of women writing for theatre between the two world wars.
Kaplan and Stowell, eds., Look Back in Pleasure: Noel Coward Reconsidered,
has a similar revisionist imperative, but this time the author in question is not one
who has been historically sidelined, but rather one who has never quite been taken
seriously academically. The Coward centenary year [1999] saw numerous national
and international productions of his plays, but this book is a collection of essays
from the first academic conference dedicated to his work, held at the University of
Birmingham (UK). The book includes interviews with directors Philip Franks,
Philip Prowse and Sue Wilson and performers Maria Aitken, Judy Campbell, Corin
Redgrave and Juliet Stevenson, as well as short essays by cultural historians and
scholars such as Philip Hoare, John Stokes, Peter Holland and Alan Sinfield. David
Edgar’s essay, ‘Noel Coward and the Transformation of British Comedy’ gets the
volume off to a good start as he suggests that many contemporary writers have in
fact ‘built on discoveries about how to write modern comedy which Coward
pioneered’. In ‘Noel Coward’s Bad Manners’, Dan Rebellato weaves Coward’s
manneredness in and out of contemporaneous texts on etiquette and ‘good
behaviour’ to portray Coward not as a snob, as is usual, but rather as a subversive
who was intent on exposing the superficiality of the class to which he appeared to
aspire. Other chapters worth noting are Philip Hoare’s ‘It’s All a Question of Masks’
and Russell Jackson’s ‘The Excitement of Being English’. One hopes that this
volume will set a precedent for others to follow as it creates a vital link between
scholars, critics and practitioners, rarely gathered together under the same cover. It
opens up new areas for debate on one of the most prolific playwrights of the
twentieth century whose cultural significance has only just begun to be recognized
in the academic world. The book is eminently accessible and will be very useful for
undergraduates of literature and gender studies, as well as those with an interest in
theatre.
Coward features prominently in Alan Sinfield’s Out on Stage: Lesbian and Gay
Theatre in the Twentieth Century, which also gives detailed treatment to playwrights
such as Somerset Maugham, Terence Rattigan and John Van Druten. Sinfield is far
more erudite on the cultural significance of censorship and provides closer readings
of texts such as Young Woodley or The Green Bay Tree than Nicholas de Jongh. His
cultural materialist approach provides both a strong sense of context and interesting
ways into the texts examined; the chapter on ‘Society and its Others’ is particularly
useful and covers a wide range of plays rooted in the 1920s and 1930s. Sinfield’s is
a transcultural and transhistorical approach but it is also a literary one; he crosses
from American to British contexts with too much ease, and this does not easily
facilitate readings which stress the importance of the original conditions of theatrical
production and cultural reception. Any student will glean a great deal of information

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from this book—play synopses, some information on critical reception, a sense of


cultural mapping and so on—but they may not learn very much about the theatre of
the day. Sinfield’s overall project of cultural mapping sometimes undermines the
possibility of in-depth readings of the texts. Nevertheless, Out on Stage is a timely
volume which will be of great use to students of cultural and literary studies.
By comparison, Nicholas Grene’s The Politics of Irish Drama: Plays in Context
from Boucicault to Friel has in some ways a far more contained agenda: ‘a critical
analysis of the political interplay of dramatic text and context’. The book assesses
Irish drama which is ‘self-consciously concerned with the representation of Ireland
as its main subject’, and Grene looks at plays by O’Casey and Shaw as well as those
by writers working for the Abbey Theatre in the early part of the twentieth century.
This is a very readable book which, although it focuses mainly on the latter half on
the nineteenth century, adds to scholarship related to mid-twentieth-century drama
in English by offering clear links between theatrical, social and political contexts
from one end of the century to the other. Similarly, Watts, Morgan and Mustafa,
eds., A Century of Irish Drama, another collection of conference papers, provides
numerous chapters on mid-twentieth-century Irish plays, with detailed sections on
the early years of the Abbey Theatre and related playwrights, and a particularly good
chapter on Sean O’Casey by Shakir Mustafa. Laura E. Lyon’s chapter, ‘Of
Orangemen and Green Theatres’, on the rarely discussed work of the Ulster literary
theatre, is also a worthy addition to the field of Irish theatre history; Lyon discusses
nation, identity and difference in relation to the plays of Gerald MacNamara, among
others. This volume should be on every twentieth-century drama reading list; it
combines survey, detail and scholarship with innovative re-readings of plays.
Overall, the last two years have seen an increase in scholarship in this area. There
appears to have been a loosening of the shackles that defined mid-twentieth-century
drama in terms of Auden and Isherwood, and a move towards perceiving the more
commercial or popular playwrights of the era as worthy of serious analysis. The
work of women dramatists has begun to be taken more seriously, as have the
possibilities for new readings of old playwrights in their own cultural contexts,
which may have been far more radical or subversive than we once assumed. Equally,
the work on ‘political theatres’ of the day, begun by scholars such as Raphael
Samuels in the 1970s and 1980s re-emerges, albeit at a tangent, with scholars such
as Steve Nicholson and Mick Wallis, whose work on political theatre and amateur
theatre will only enhance drama studies further.

5. Post-1950 Drama

What follows is a report on the books of 2000 by and about Alan Bennett, Edward
Bond, Brian Friel, Trevor Griffiths, David Hare, Peter Nichols, Harold Pinter and
Terence Rattigan. Next come comments on eleven more general books, of which the
most ambitious are those by Richard Eyre/Nicholas Wright and D. Keith Peacock.
Is there a contemporary dramatist for whom a book entitled ‘Understanding X’ is
less needed than Alan Bennett? If the intended audience of Peter Wolfe’s
Understanding Alan Bennett is American, then Wolfe should explain Burgess,
McLean, Blunt and spying, and engage with the historical George III, which he does
not do. He has not sought out British reviews of Bennett’s stage and television plays,

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and apparently has not tried to see the television work. He gives no sign of having
visited Leeds or of knowing the audiences who love Patricia Routledge
(unmentioned, but memorable in Talking Heads). That he writes of the ‘gun-happy’
streets of London (p. 22) and of ‘the Stratford Memorial Theatre Group’ (p. 142)
does not inspire confidence. What he enjoys is finding improbable parallels: Blunt
in A Question of Attribution is like Hedda Gabler (p. 151); An Englishman Abroad
is ‘Brechtian’ (p. 148); Irene Ruddock in ‘A Lady of Letters’ is ‘Thoreauvian’ (p.
195). And this: ‘The burdens imposed by memory and the struggle to find a self by
separating one’s true private history from the false vexes Graham Whittaker from A
Chip in the Sugar as much as it does Proust’s Marcel or Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus’
(p. 179). Wolfe’s study should at best be called ‘Summarising …’ D.E. Turner’s
Alan Bennett: In a Manner of Speaking [1997] is a better work; Alan Bennett: A
Critical Introduction, by Joseph H. O’Mealy, is announced for 2001.
Edward Bond has not written a widely admired play since Summer [1982].
However, more background material is appearing for his works and ideas than for
those of any other living dramatist. The four volumes of his letters, noticed in my
last report, have been followed by his essays, The Hidden Plot: Notes on Theatre
and the State, and the two-volume Selections from the Notebooks, edited by Ian
Stuart, also editor of the letters. Stuart reports that he has chosen to print about one-
fifth of the notebooks. The entries, he explains, are of four kinds: ‘play drafts;
commentary on the plays; Bond’s thoughts on life and the play in particular; and
stories and poems which may or may not have any direct relevance to the play in
hand’ (p. x). So, according to Stuart, we have ‘a rare and extraordinary insight into
the outlook of Bond and the workings of his creative mind’ (p. x). Nothing personal
can be found here, so readers are not entertained as they are by Nichols’s diaries, and
we can only guess at the biography. That in about 1966 Bond withdrew to a country
village is indicated here only by two sections entitled ‘Great Wibraham Papers’ and
‘Rothbury Papers’.
Entries here show some of the trial-and-error thinking which led to the final form
of Saved, Lear, The Sea, Summer and later work, data from which some future
scholar may piece together a full study (though this would also involve study of
manuscripts, which may not survive). The Notebooks contain some thinking about
dramatists (Arthur Miller is a bête noire) and theatre; Bond is determined to resist
conventions of form. The texts reveal an intelligent man attempting to see life
steadily and whole, resisting external dictates. The Notebooks are not self-contained
reading, and I doubt whether The Hidden Plot is of much interest except to admirers
of Bond’s plays of the 1960s and 1970s and the smaller number who still follow his
career. These writings are turgid and demanding, unlike essays by such dramatists
as Arden and Edgar. The reader must start with the conviction that every word by
Bond matters, be convinced of his continuing importance.
Though Brian Friel has been writing for as long as Bond, only with Dancing at
Lughnasa [1990] was he clearly established as an outstanding playwright. Some
nine books about Friel, starting with D.E.S. Maxwell in 1973, precede the trio
discussed here.
Friel is a reticent man who believes that plays should speak for themselves, as he
remarked as early as 1968. He has given few interviews since the earliest part of his
career, except for those given to promote the Field Day company in 1980–4, with no
interviews in the last ten years. So I am surprised to find that Delaney, ed., Brian

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Friel in Conversation, has 289 pages. Everything that matters—thirty-three


interviews—is here, from Vogue to the Irish Times. The weakness is repetition, the
strength in Delaney’s thorough introductions and a fair sense of Friel as both man
and writer. The one interview Delaney missed should be recorded, about
Translations: Owen Dudley Edwards, ‘A Question of Communication’ (Radio
Times 30 Jan.–5 Feb.[1980] 18, 21). Delaney has also found and printed transcripts
of four BBC Northern Ireland radio talks by Friel and an Irish television programme
about him. Three of the longest interviews were in obscurity in Acorn, In Dublin and
The Word.
The first two of these, however, also appear in a British publication, Murray, ed.,
Brian Friel: Essays, Diaries, Interviews, 1964–1999 [1999]. Murray has scoops, an
unpublished 1986 interview, the substantial ‘Seven Notes for a Festival Programme’
(exploring the startling idea that directors may be unnecessary) and twenty pages of
notes on the genesis of Molly Sweeney and Give Me Your Answer, Do! Though these
are tantalizingly short, they show the slow composition, an inability to settle to
writing, and diverse reading, from Wittgenstein to Wallace Stevens. Murray’s short
introduction surveys much of Friel’s output. Libraries and serious scholars need
both; less specialized readers will find sufficient, and more variety, in Murray’s
collection.
Friel is one of the five writers considered in a new series, Faber Critical Guides
(the other four are Pinter and Stoppard, discussed below, and Beckett and Sean
O’Casey). The back cover states that the guides are for students and teachers, ‘for
use in classroom, college or at home’—but not in the theatre? The format is a
general introduction and extended studies of several plays, in Friel’s case well
chosen, as good and representative: Philadelphia, Here I Come!, Translations,
Making History, and Dancing at Lughnasa. Nesta Jones is conscientious but
plodding. She gives none of the theatrical context: that Friel started writing soon
after the Royal Court revolution in London and after landmarks by Thompson in
Belfast and Keane and Murphy in Dublin. Such lines as ‘The structural devices of
the divided self, time and memory are also thematic ideas’ (p. 21) made me wonder
if plays have to be studied like this. Jones writes ‘because you only have access to
the printed text’ (p. 13). Sorry, but students will rent the video of Dancing at
Lughnasa, and have to try to spot differences with no help from Jones.
I had mixed feelings when I began Stanton B. Garner Jr.’s Trevor Griffiths:
Politics, Drama, History [1999]. On the one hand, a full-length study of Griffiths is
needed (we have at least one book on most of his contemporaries). On the other, that
Derrida arrives on page 12, followed by Barthes, Bakhtin and Baudrillard, suggested
for a while that this was not going to be the book I wanted. Garner’s account, in fact,
is excellent. He understands the background very well, from the milieu of New Left
clubs and the Universities and Left Review at the end of the 1950s to ‘that liminal,
structureless decade between the fall of the Wall and century’s end’ (p. 226). He
suggests that Griffiths’s ‘socialist aspiration’ always had ‘a certain elegiac
melancholy’ (p. 89), and sees that ‘The contours of Griffiths’ career owe as much (or
more) to such writers as Edward Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, and Angus Calder as
they do to figures within the theater’ (p. 51). Garner fails to explain The Party
precisely, that Tagg is modelled on Gerry Healy and Ford on Robin Blackburn. His
only slip, though, is to interpret the line in the play, ‘We’ve got upper second souls’,
as about class, not university degrees (p. 86).

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Garner quotes Griffiths as observing that ‘my plays are about the contradictions
in my life’ (p. 45), yet biography is virtually excluded—simply the working-class
boy who changes because of grammar school and university education. Griffiths is
rightly placed as a northerner, so separate from ‘the metropolitan alternative theater
culture’ (p. 3). Garner evaluates all the plays. He observes, for example, of Sam,
Sam: ‘With the exception of Mercer’s early drama, no play explores so fully the
psychological and social contradictions of postwar working-class mobility’ (p. 45).
(But does Garner know David Storey’s In Celebration?) Equal space is given to film
and television work, with clear accounts of what is unpublished.
Garner believes that political drama is ‘one of Britain’s greatest contributions to
twentieth-century theater’ (p. 14) but also that in the last twenty years critics have
had difficulty discussing it, for the heyday is past (p. 187). Garner sees Griffiths
recovering ‘the voices of social visionaries’ (p. 11) from the script of an unmade
film about Tom Paine, through Tom Mann to Nye Bevan. Griffiths, he shows,
explores ‘the irreconcilable conflict between what he calls the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’
dimensions of revolutionary struggle’ (p. 64). His section ‘Gendering the
Revolution’, on the interweaving of politics and sexuality, is especially good.
The study is researched with exceptional thoroughness, using published
interviews and many of Garner’s own. Not only has he tracked down the reviews in
obscure papers and the comments in inaccessible journals, he appears to have read
all about Griffiths’s subjects, from Danton and Gramsci to soccer hooligans. I closed
the book seeing that Garner had made a strong case for Griffiths as an outstanding
creator of socialist art, with Brecht and O’Casey.
David Hare’s Acting Up is his diary of performing his Via Dolorosa from the first
rehearsal through all the London and New York performances. Thus he does not
deal with the travel, research and writing involved. Keeping this diary, he explains,
‘was the essential means of trying to understand what was going on. Knowing I
would sit down every morning to lay out the previous day’s trials gave the
experience calm and order … Acting Up is a diary of learning to act … I realize the
purpose of my acting is to make me a better director, to understand acting better’
(pp. xi, xii, 4). He found that in London audiences engaged with the content, in
contrast to the hit-or-flop mentality of Broadway. Parts are gossipy, with
digressions: he is fascinated by American films, loves ‘the glorious articulation
which a great stage provides’ (p. 21), writes of Judi Dench and Wallace Shawn. He
discusses above all how audiences differ and how his performance changes from
night to night. Hare is informative and entertaining as he reacts to rehearsals, fear,
the relationship with the director, publicity, critics, interviews, celebrities,
exhaustion.
After reading Hare, Peter Nichols’s Diaries, 1969–1977 seem lightweight.
Nichols takes us back to the years when the plays which are still his best known (Joe
Egg to Privates on Parade) were new. Nichols is not writing for publication, though
he has selected what is to be made public now. Readers have to dig for theatrical
insights: he is a craftsman, not a theorizer; he remarks on the germ of Forget-me-
not-Lane (pp. 73–4), reviews Hare’s Knuckle neatly (p. 373), describes why The
Freeway failed (p. 377). We hear of the life of the dramatist, attempting to write and
negotiating with directors. Mostly this is an enjoyable self-portrait of a modern man:
socializing, parenting, lustful, self-questioning, making faux pas, overhearing comic

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dialogues, with gentle ill-will towards relatives—the Bristol boy who attains
Blackheath.
Difficult though it is to say anything new, Bill Naismith’s Harold Pinter for Faber
Critical Guides appeared fresher and more sophisticated (as on ‘linguistic strategies’
in The Birthday Party, p. 59) than Jones on Friel. Naismith’s textual notes are fuller
and he has a chapter on ‘context and background’. The other two plays discussed are
The Caretaker and The Homecoming. I liked Naismith’s use of the comments of
others (such as Simon Trussler placing The Homecoming as ‘intellectualised
melodrama’, p. 157) and his comparisons with other plays: resemblances between
late seventeenth-century comedies of manners and The Homecoming (p. 155).
Naismith acknowledges that ‘the dimension of live performance is missing’ (p.
136), but though all three have been filmed (and surely Naismith has seen them),
these are unmentioned. Why are film studies so rigidly separated from drama?
Martin Esslin’s introductory survey, Pinter the Playwright, first published in
1970 and last expanded in 1992 appears in its sixth edition. Esslin has added eleven
pages on the three plays of the 1990s, worth reading for their personal, informed
view. Moonlight, for instance, he finds ‘a deeply tragic view of the human
condition’ (p. 214).
Jim Hunter writes of Tom Stoppard for the Faber Critical Guides, with extended
commentary on four major plays: he revisits three plays which he covered in his
1982 book, with the addition of Arcadia. His book succeeds partly because he
allows thirty pages for generalizations at the beginning and end; he also has twenty
pages of textual notes on each play. He describes clearly the 1993 revisions of
Travesties, but is confusing about the different versions of Jumpers. As with the
other volumes, plays in performance are neglected, including the film of
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, while Robert Gordon’s Text and Performance
volume isn’t even in his bibliography. While the volume on Friel has very little for
the informed, Hunter is so precise that I found much to admire, as in this summing
up: Stoppard’s plays ‘are sympathetic to traditional beliefs: the notions of absolute
good (with a possible absolute judge), of natural innocence, and of the almost heroic
importance of art’ (p. 16).
All three Faber guides have a prevailing joylessness: plays are for studying, and
after that for reading about, in these ‘guides’.
Michael Darlow’s biography, Terence Rattigan: The Man and his Work, is a
revised, franker and considerably larger version of the book published in 1979. That,
curiously, was co-authored with Gillian Hodson, a minor bibliographical puzzle—
has he excised every sentence written by Hodson?
Darlow believes that ‘the power of Rattigan’s best plays comes from the implicit
rather than the explicit, from unspoken feelings, buried emotions and hidden truths’
(p. 16). Rattigan is a writer of the oblique (p. 482). Darlow asserts that all the work
feeds directly on Rattigan’s life: not quite upper-class enough for Harrow; observer
of his parents’ unhappy marriage and his father’s disgrace and philandering; his
difficulty in facing his homosexuality. Though a narrow view of creativity, this
provides a good start to a life-and-works study. Rattigan, from French without Tears
[1936] to Separate Tables [1954], had an apparently effortless rise to fame and
wealth. Yet being a success for Rattigan meant parties, champagne, dining at the
Ritz: no wonder his serious plays are still not taken very seriously. Could this idle
Bertie Wooster, a gambler, devoted to his Rolls, passionate about golf, have written

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The Browning Version and The Deep Blue Sea? Darlow only sketches the pathos of
the man who wanted—some of the time—to be a great writer and did not want to
settle for mere success. He considers the decline in quality in later plays, seeing that
by the late 1940s Rattigan ‘was becoming increasingly cut off from sound advice’
(p. 254), surrounded by sycophants. By 1964, too, Rattigan was a sick man, drinking
heavily.
Darlow’s account is muted; he is too little a storyteller and too bland when he
comments: he is usually recording where Rattigan was living and who his friends
were. For the plays, he attends to the circumstances of production, and to critical
reception, with short plot summaries and sketchy evaluations. He is thorough on
Man and Boy, aided by letters about the actors who were considered and rejected.
Variations on a Theme is usefully explained by the sad story of Margaret Leighton’s
marriage to Laurence Harvey. His rare strongly negative comments—‘one is
conscious of contrivance’ (p. 201) in The Winslow Boy; the film of The Deep Blue
Sea has ‘grotesque and unsubtle exaggeration’ (p. 329)—lack supporting argument.
Rattigan emerges as a clear example of what E.M. Forster labelled ‘the undeveloped
heart’ of the Englishman, especially of the public school variety.
Rattigan, with Coward, Priestley, Eliot and Fry, occupies a subdued phase of the
British theatre, that between Shaw and Osborne: the reader is challenged to decide
which plays by which writer deserve to survive.
Richard Eyre and Nicholas Wright look ambitiously at twentieth-century theatre
in Changing Stages: A View of British Theatre in the Twentieth Century, linked with
the television series shown late in 2000. Eyre insists that ‘I needed to write the book
before the series in order to find out what I thought and what I didn’t know’ (p. 7).
‘The task we set ourselves’, they write, ‘was to find out how we got here: to identify
the people, the plays, the ideas that had come together over the last hundred years or
so to bring about the flowering that we see today’ (p. 16). This book is entitled ‘a
view of British theatre’ yet includes many Americans and digresses frequently to
Brecht and other Europeans. Though Eyre is a director, the subject is playwrights,
with little attention to actors or theatre buildings, and even less to theorizing about
absurdism or anything else. The final chapter, entitled ‘Purity’, flings together
Meyerhold, Artaud, Peter Brook, Grotowski, Kantor, Robert Wilson and Lepage.
Space is found for pantomime and Ken Campbell.
The first half of the book is history, sometimes responsive, sometimes a dutiful
trudge through received opinion. The book is not authoritative, a Revels History, yet
rarely distinctively personal, though the authors are great enthusiasts. When they
reach the last thirty years, they appear to be recalling their best experiences of
performance, which may explain the choice of plays for comment (nothing by Pinter
after Betrayal); they also avoid lists of titles. Pinter has six pages, in fact, while John
Arden has only three sentences, curiously split between two chapters. Charles Wood
earns a passionate page: ‘There is no contemporary writer who has chronicled the
experience of modern war with so much authority, knowledge, compassion, wit and
despair’ (p. 250). The chapter on modern Ireland gives as the key chronology John
B. Keane’s Sive [1959], Tom Murphy’s Whistle in the Wind [1961] and Friel’s
Philadelphia, Here I Come! [1964]. The section on verse drama ends with the
reminder that Tony Harrison brings this tradition to the present.
Though Rattigan is briskly dismissed, Eyre and Wright emphasize what they
enjoy, and this is a work to quote and savour. A few examples. Look Back in Anger

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comes from 1956 England, the context ‘the lack of choice, the lack of colour, the
lack of public joy … sheer monochromatic greyness’ (p. 239). Hare’s A Map of the
World is ‘part Shavian debate, part masked ball of the id’ (p. 292). The achievement
of Sebastian Barry’s The Steward of Christendom is ‘to popularize a non-narrative
play of atmosphere’ (p. 277). Eyre and Wright are eloquent, hitting the nail on the
head in a few sentences, while factually correct too. They make modern theatre fun,
exciting and important.
Shellard, ed., British Theatre in the 1950s, consists of papers from a 1997
conference, and should be entitled ‘A few aspects of …’. The two best essays come
from original research into the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship. Steve Nicholson
writes of the censoring of foreign plays, with Genet’s Huis clos and Tennessee
Williams provoking moralistic language. Kathryn Johnson examines the Lord
Chamberlain’s especial concerns, homosexuality and the portrayal of Jesus. The
reader with a general interest in the Lord Chamberlain’s actions is already well
served by Nicholas de Jongh’s Politics, Prudery and Perversion: The Censorship of
the English Stage, 1901–1968. Fiona Kavanagh Fearon has also done research, in
the National Theatre files in the British Library, and brings out the rival ambitions
of Peter Hall and Laurence Olivier, from 1959 to 1963. Previous histories of the
National Theatre have established much of this, and Fearon’s focus is on the
National in the 1960s.
John Bull and Dominic Shellard follow the line taken by Dan Rebellato in 1956
and All That, challenging the received opinion that in that year everything was
changed by Look Back in Anger. Bull rightly argues that Waiting for Godot [1955]
was influential, noting also that Theatre Workshop settled in London in 1953 and
that the Berliner Ensemble performed in London in 1956. Shellard’s title, ‘1950–54:
Was it a Cultural Wasteland?’, is promising, but in fact he rambles round the role of
Binkie Beaumont in the West End and the number of musicals and French plays. He
states: ‘What is perhaps most noticeable about the London stage between 1952 and
1954 is how completely indifferent it was to contemporary events’ (p. 37). This is
not wholly true: Roger MacDougall in Escapade and Charles Morgan in The
Burning Glass wrote of fear of war in the nuclear age; dramas at the Unity Theatre
were urgently political; the lost form of intimate revue had social comment.
The remaining four essays include an interview with Pinter about his acting in the
1950s, a familiar account of McMaster, Wolfit and his discovery of Beckett, plus his
admiration for W.B. Yeats’s plays. Danny Castle succinctly summarizes Kenneth
Tynan’s achievements, as a reviewer in the 1950s and at the National Theatre in the
1960s. Glenda Leeming revisits Christopher Fry, on whom she wrote a book in
1990, asking why his career fizzled out. Christopher Innes, who discussed Rattigan
in his comprehensive Modern British Drama, revisits him. Innes begins: ‘He is
almost always represented as the potentially serious playwright who sold out to
popularity’ (p. 53), apparently unaware of the revaluation since Susan Rusinko’s
1983 study and revivals of the major plays.
Shellard’s title requires what he does not provide: discussion of how far a
‘wasteland’ was alleviated by John Whiting’s Saints Day and Graham Greene’s The
Living Room, with the work of Fry and Rattigan, T.S. Eliot’s The Confidential Clerk
and perhaps N.C. Hunter. As for errors: there were not two elections in 1951 (p. 37);
John Gielgud played Leontes in London, not Stratford (p. 37); the Tynan/Ionesco

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debate was in the Observer, not the Guardian (p. 86); the contents of Curtains and
Tynan on Theatre are not identical (p. 98).
Peacock’s Thatcher’s Theatre has divided objectives. His subject is sometimes
precise, the response of dramatists and companies to Thatcherism, issues of
ideology and cuts in funding. At other times he has a broader aim, that suggested by
his subtitle, ‘British Theatre and Drama in the Eighties’. He begins with a long
chapter on Thatcher’s government—the miners’ strike, the north–south divide, and
so on—which may be useful contexts for young or North American readers, but
barely connects with the rest of his book, and he follows this with an indigestible
section on ‘arts and money’. Chapter 4 brings the reader to the response of left-wing
writers to a right-wing regime. He begins, oddly, with Bond, although he sees that
war was Bond’s main subject. He often reads narrowly for leftist ideas, so that
Howard Brenton in Bloody Poetry is scrutinizing ‘the communal individuality of
Anarchism’ (p. 74). There is much plot summary and little evaluation, though he
successfully encapsulates the impact of such plays as Hare’s The Bay at Nice and
Wrecked Eggs.
Self-contained chapters follow. ‘Looking East’ discusses writers who responded
to the demise of Communism. Peacock finds Churchill’s Mad Forest the best of
these. ‘Carnivals of the Oppressed’ fashionably draws on Bakhtin, juxtaposing Ann
Jellicoe’s community plays, the welfare state and John McGrath’s Border Warfare
(though ignoring its sequel, John Brown’s Body). Peacock helpfully distinguishes
Edgar’s Entertaining Strangers as first performed in Dorchester from the later
version staged at the National Theatre. ‘Defusing a Refusenik’ deals narrowly with
the demise of 7:84 England, and how McGrath was forced out of the directorship of
7:84 Scotland; Peacock draws heavily on McGrath’s book, The Bone Won’t Break.
Turning to ‘women’s theatre’, Peacock distinguishes ‘socialist or materialist
feminism, bourgeois feminism and radical feminism’ (p. 151), showing how, for
example, the work of Claire Luckham differs from that of Sarah Daniels. Much
information is crammed into the next section, on black theatre, which goes without
transition from Caribbean writers to Hanif Kureishi and on to the companies Temba,
Talawa and Tara. He notes three significant new dramatists who emerged in the
1980s: Jim Cartwright, Terry Johnson and Timberlake Wertenbaker. A breathless
account of ‘Physical or Visual Theatre’ (p. 205) follows, a sketch of DV8 and
Forced Entertainment.
Peacock’s study has slips frequent enough to irritate, as he misspells Laurence
Olivier (p. 4), Nichols (p. 28), Willy Russell (p. 48), Shaffer (p. 77), Albie Sachs (p.
90), Kristeva (p. 123), Mnouchkine (p. 126), Frances Gray (p. 130), MacLennan (p.
143), Caz Phillips (p. 171) and Ayckbourn (p. 217). He shows virtually no sign of
having seen plays, writing instead of texts. Though he notes the dramatists who
formed the anti-Thatcher 20 June Group, he does not comment on them signing
petitions or taking part in demonstrations. I find it arbitrary that he takes an eleven-
year chunk of an author’s work, practically ignoring earlier scripts. He also ignores
their work for film and television, though Edgar’s Vote for Them and Hare’s films
Strapless and Paris by Night could and probably should be fitted into his analysis.
Peacock’s work is more useful for facts and some insights into some writers of the
1980s than for the more difficult subject of how politically minded authors use their
art to react to a hostile government.

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Dominic Dromgoole’s The Full Room: An A–Z of Contemporary Playwriting


gives his comments, personal and anecdotal, on 111 playwrights, nearly all British
and almost all living. His book is worth reading for four reasons. He is a great,
provocative phrasemaker. Berkoff is a ‘roaring lion’, Pam Gems is ‘the greatest
living provider of turns for star actors’, Gray is ‘the poet laureate of dyspepsia’,
Keeffe’s early plays were ‘the theatrical equivalent of The Clash’. Dromgoole has
stimulating asides, many of them about his directing at the Bush Theatre. Second, he
assesses what ‘heightened language’ means (p. 69), contrasts Peter Hall and Richard
Eyre as directors of the National Theatre (p. 34), and brings out the role of the Old
Red Lion in promoting new writing in the 1990s (p. 58). Third, he gives an original,
brisk view of the major talents of our time. He prefers praise to blame, so becomes
negative only when he writes of Edgar, Hare and Shaffer. Finally, he promotes new
writers, to read and to watch for their next play. So he admires Richard Cameron,
whose Doncaster is ‘a place of prickly heat’ (p. 44) and Judith Johnson, ‘an assured,
still and sane voice’ (p. 154), who has been shouted down by lads ‘with their
zippety-zappety language, their violence, their sexuality’ (p. 154).
As scholars have come to realize that comment on drama should incorporate
awareness of performance, three books of interviews deserve attention. Interviews
provide raw material, and frequently I found that assessing the information was left
to the reader. Duncan Wu, in Making Plays, has long interviews with Alan Bennett,
Howard Brenton, Edgar, Michael Frayn and Hare, and with the five men who
directed their most recent plays. Though the ostensible focus is on one play, Wu asks
such broad questions as ‘Did the Thatcher years alter your vision as a writer in any
way?’ (p. 98). He supplies substantial literary and academic introductions to each
script, tracing, for example, how Brenton’s Magnificence anticipates his Sore
Throats. I enjoy such incidentals as Bond baffling his actors by telling them to be
Rolls Royces with weeds growing out of them (p. 69). The information here on
Frayn’s Copenhagen is almost essential for full understanding of the play and Edgar
is especially worth listening to because he knows so exactly what he is doing and
clarifies the political context. For the other three, these commentaries are a kind of
added gloss.
Giannachi and Luckhurst, eds., On Directing, prints interviews with twenty-one
directors, six of them women, in only 142 pages, so some are short. Helen Manfull,
in Taking the Stage: Women Directors on Directing, interviews thirteen directors,
weaving their statements together under nine headings, such as their training and
their techniques in rehearsal (four women appear in both books). Thus On Directing
focuses on individuals, particularly as the arrangement is alphabetical, so that we
read adventurous younger men, such as Tim Mitchells, before the intellectual
wisdom of Jonathan Miller. Taking the Stage, instead, emphasizes methodology.
While Simon McBurney believes that there can be an ‘over-reverence for a text’ (On
Directing, p. 69), Katie Mitchell takes an academic approach: ‘I spend a lot of time
researching the background of the text, looking at its historical, socio-political and
cultural context. I also look at the autobiographical details of the author’s life’ (On
Directing, p. 95).
Both books show how important companies with their own styles and audiences
are in contemporary British theatre. Manfull informs on Shared Experience;
Giannachi includes DV8, Graese, Tara Arts, Welfare State, Communicado and
Cheek by Jowl; Druid and Théâtre de Complicité appear in both books. A few

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passages shed specific light on recent British plays. Manfull describes Brenton
writing In Extremis at a Californian university (p. 115) and the collaboration of
director and designer on Martin McDonagh’s Leenane trilogy (p. 26). In
Giannachi’s collection, Garry Hynes notes that Royal Court audiences placed The
Beauty Queen of Leenane in the tradition of Ibsen and Strindberg, while spectators
in Galway correctly saw the Irish tradition, an ‘initial response’ which was
‘fundamentally different’ (p. 53).
Taking the Stage incidentally presents a bibliographical puzzle. The British
edition contains a statement that the book was first published in the US in 1997.
Manfull’s In Other Words: Women Directors Speak was indeed published by Smith
& Kraus. Taking the Stage, however, is longer, with a chapter added. More
strangely, Deborah Warner features in In Other Words but has completely
disappeared from Taking the Stage.
Three of the studies to hand examine aspects of current British theatre, each
giving some attention to playwrights. Readers who do not think narrowly in textual
terms, but who see that theatre is collaborative and that performance is a
fundamental consideration, will want to look at the complete books.
The most wide-ranging of the three is Gottlieb and Chambers, eds., Theatre in a
Cool Climate [1999]. The editors write that ‘this book arose out of the sense that an
informal snapshot of contemporary theatre, written by a diversity of practitioners,
would be of interest both now and in the future’ (p. 9), a millennium stocktaking.
Nineteen essays follow, by dramatists (Pinter and Winsome Pinnock), actors, critics,
directors, producers, designers, managers and literary managers. The editors note
that the final five on this list were occupations that had not existed a hundred years
earlier.
The essays are insiders’ views on recent theatre history. Irving Wardle considers
the period from 1956 on, arguing that the heart continues to be the West End. Peter
Hall interprets through Thatcher: ‘From 1979 we forgot what subsidy was for and
with it forgot what supporting the arts was about’ (p. 100). Five other essays merit a
mention. Ella Wildridge of the Traverse, Edinburgh, has ideas on how to promote
more and better new plays, including ending the neglect of the older generation (she
names three Scots in this category, p. 164). Paule Constable is informative on the
work of a lighting designer. Andrew Lavender examines the kind of theatre which
either transcends words or makes words part of some larger stew: ‘The major
explorations in British theatre in the 1990s have been aesthetic in nature. They are
manifested in three distinct areas: an evolution in the nature of ‘writing’ for the
theatre, the increasing presence of multi-media performance and the re-imagining of
theatre space’ (p. 180). Jatinder Verma asserts the distinctiveness of Asian theatre in
Britain, as he has done elsewhere, and Pinnock does the same for black theatre, one
of protest. I wonder whether the essays or the title came first. For many are
pessimistic: Gottlieb, Wardle, Cleo Sylvestre, Richard Eyre, Genista McIntosh,
Constable (‘Audiences are staying away from many theatres’, p. 94) and Hall
(‘There have been cuts in education programmes, school visits, training, all forms of
outreach, and all forms of access’, p. 104).
In contrast, Mulryne and Shewring, eds., The Cottesloe at the National: Infinite
Riches in a Little Room [1999], celebrates the many ways in which this courtyard
space has been used since its opening in 1976. The building and the plays staged in
it are discussed thoroughly from every angle. The second half has extended and

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well-illustrated sections on eleven shows staged there, the longest on Tony


Harrison’s version of The Mysteries. Four of the others are recent: Keith Dewhurst’s
promenade treatment of Lark Rise; Pam Gems’s Stanley (theatre as chapel with half-
finished murals); Julian Mitchell’s Half Life (conventional decorative set) and
traverse staging for Hare’s Racing Demon. The survey of reviews of Racing Demon
shows how the subject was variously seen as religion today, that state of the
Anglican Church, or worship versus social work within the C. of E.
Who Keeps the Score on the London Stages? is by a Bulgarian professor, Kalina
Stefanova, and published in the Netherlands. Stefanova has diligently interviewed
twenty-seven critics and a lot of producers, directors, press agents, a publisher—and
four dramatists. Though she tells us who the critics are, their experience, their
prejudices and enthusiasms, readers have to answer the title question for themselves
as the eight-page conclusion is little more than admiration for the calibre of the
critics. Of the playwrights, Ayckbourn and Arnold Wesker write blandly, though the
latter observes neatly: ‘Since newspaper reviewing is one person’s opinion
magnified out of proportion by print, I think there should be a warning at the top of
every review, “This review could damage your perception of the play!”’ (p. 105).
Steven Berkoff is predictably forceful and provocative: ‘Nothing much happens in
English language any more. Most things are happening in other languages, other
theatres, in other forms’ (p. 56). Edgar’s remarks are as usual thoughtful, for
example, critics ‘could facilitate an understanding of why it was, for instance, that in
the ’80s and ’90s a lot of people wanted to write plays about gambling and killing’
(p. 121). In the section on the current state of theatre, Sheridan Morley ‘would have
liked to have seen more plays in the last 10 years that worry about the state of the
nation’ (p. 148). Hall is pleased that ‘there’s a lot of talented new writing’ by the
under-thirties (p. 158), while Nick Curtis complains of ‘a lack of quality control …
not enough work is being done on plays before they go into performance’ (p. 143).
In my 1998 report I noted two books of reprinted reviews by Americans, Mel
Gussow and Frank Rich. This year brings Vanishing Acts: Theater since the Sixties,
by Gordon Rogoff, mostly reprints from Village Voice. More than the others, this is
an American view of the British. He states, for instance, of Hugh Whitemore’s
Breaking the Code, ‘the English are never more odd than when they’re trying to be
internally true without the slightest interest in internal psychology’ (p. 170). A fine
journalist, a typical arresting opening is: ‘Would it were not so, but David Hare’s
The Secret Rapture reveals him as a closet Tory’ (p. 183). Rogoff is often savage.
He finds Louise Page’s Real Estate ‘the 9,000th play in this century to grapple with
earth-shaking issues surrounding mothers, daughters, pregnancy, and neurotic
loyalties’ (p. 178), while Pam Gems’s Camille is ‘extravagantly awful. … When
Gems can find nothing to say, she says it again. … God save feminists from Gems’s
missionary semiconsciousness’ (pp. 87, 88). Astutely, Rogoff observes that, when
Hall directed Pinter, he ‘arranged Pinter’s characters like a curator setting sculptures
at their best angles, the distance between them telling as much of their story as the
light catching them in profile’ (p. 106). Rogoff rarely has space to substantiate his
judgements, and he is better short and snappy than sustained. But dip into his book
for striking prose, and assorted insights into plays, acting and the state of theatre.
My word-limit is exceeded with four books still requiring mention. The most
important is Richard Pine’s The Diviner: The Art of Brian Friel [1999]. Though Pine
published Brian Friel and Irish Drama in 1990, his new book does not merely

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consider three more plays, but has changes throughout, to a ‘more political’ reading
(p. x), with altered opinions on such texts as Translations. F.C. McGrath reveals his
angle in his title, Brian Friel’s (Post) Colonial Drama: Language, Illusion and
Politics [1999]. He goes conscientiously from ‘apprenticeship’ through
‘postmodern memory’ (Faith Healer) to ‘blindsight’ (Molly Sweeney). Penelope
Prentice’s The Pinter Ethic: The Erotic Aesthetic has more than 500 pages. Her
thesis in a comprehensive study is that ‘Pinter’s plays combine a focus on love and
justice that presents an ethic expressed in new forms which challenge those
currently received reflections on human powerlessness’ (p. xvii). The focus in Race,
Sex and Gender in Contemporary Women’s Theatre: The Construction of ‘Woman’,
by Mary F. Brewer [1999] is on theory and content, with chapters on motherhood,
‘woman’ at work and ‘woman’ as object and subject. The few dramatists featured,
among them Sarah Daniels and Jackie Kay, receive little more than passing mention.

6. Pre-1950 Poetry

More of a review than the recuperation its title implies, Holden and Birch, eds., A.E.
Housman: A Reassessment, delivers less than it promises. Left over from the flurry
of literary activity which marked the centenary, in 1996, of the publication of A
Shropshire Lad, this anthology of critical essays finds senior critics such as Archie
Burnett, John Bayley, and Norman Page alongside Geoffrey Hill picking over what
remains a fairly limited output with, apparently, lasting popular appeal. It is not,
however, wholly clear to or for whom these scholars speak. The anthology opens
with Burnett on Housman’s ‘level tones’ (the quotation deriving from Kingsley
Amis’s tribute, ‘A.E.H.’), treating the equivocal mastery of tone and diction which
none of his fellow commentators overlooks. Some rather hollow contextualizing of
A Shropshire Lad—a survey of its critical reception from Benjamin Fisher and P.G.
Naiditch’s disappointingly inconclusive charting of ‘The First Edition of A
Shropshire Lad in Bookshop and Auction Room’—is brightened by Trevor Hold’s
fascinating if highly technical analysis of the collection’s ‘legacy of song’, Carol
Efrati’s reading of Housman’s biblical re-readings, and Takeshi Obata’s tracing of
the haiku and senryu-like qualities of Housman’s finely tuned lyricism. The poet is
treated qua classicist by Kenneth Womack (‘Ashes Under Uricon: Historicizing
A.E. Housman, Reifying T.H. Huxley, Embracing Lucretius’) and G.P. Goold
(‘Housman’s Manilius’), and qua poet by John Bayley (‘Lewis Carroll in
Shropshire’, because ‘the man who wrote [the poem] does not so much dissociate
himself from the book as disappear into it, like Alice into Wonderland’), Keith Jebb
(‘The Land of Lost Content’), Geoffrey Hill, whose acerbic ‘Tacit Pledges’ is the
most compellingly critical account, and Norman Page (‘A.E. Housman and Thomas
Hardy’).
Placed beside Hardy, Housman appears to surprising advantage, but Page’s brisk
comparison of their war poetry—inevitably focusing on Last Poems, primarily
‘Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries’ (it seems an unjustly limiting choice given the
numerous parallels he lists) short-changes the younger writer. Perhaps the corner-
cutting can be explained by the appearance this year of Page’s wide-ranging,
abundantly detailed and beautifully illustrated Oxford Reader’s Companion to
Hardy. Following volumes such as Frank Pinion’s Companion [1968], Commentary

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[1976] and Dictionary [1989] for example, this new Companion has much to live up
to, but does so with a seriousness to be savoured. Including, besides an ample
chronology, entries (indexed by subject) on everything from ‘executions, public’ to
‘Positivism’ and appending, as well as a highly organized bibliography, separate
indexes of Hardy’s poems, characters in the novels, place names, glossary (of dialect
words and expressions), and a record of films and radio broadcasts, it amasses and
orders a wealth of information in a way which gravely takes account of, but never
panders to, Hardy’s considerable general readership. Some forty contributors
(Pinion himself, Dennis Taylor, Ronald Draper, Anthony Thwaite, and John Bayley
among them) ensure diversions for the specialist, even the scholarly, student. With
thoughtful management of subject entries (many closer to articles) and judicious
cross-referencing, Page handles the encyclopedia-style format deftly. Here, for
once, the biographical context supplied by people (friends and family jostle
influences such as Keats, contemporaries such as Nietzsche and James Barrie, and
admirers such as Auden) and places (real and imaginary) helps to ventilate but never
overshadows literary context: almost eleven pages are devoted to ‘critical
approaches’ and seven to ‘poetry’, not counting those (of several pages each) on
named collections. Probably the longest entry is entitled, simply, ‘Hardy, Thomas’;
here, as elsewhere, the very limits of the format give rise to a moving sense of how
the differing worlds of poet and novelist interleave in the man and merge in his
work.
One of Page’s contributors, Tim Armstrong, has been responsible for my
favourite book of this season. Haunted Hardy: Poetry, History, Memory is a salutary
reminder of how few critics manage to bridge the divide between the finely tuned
textual critiques Armstrong provides, and the advanced theories in which his
readings are embedded, inflected by Derrida and the psychoanalytic work of
Abraham and Torok. As this absorbing study demonstrates, Hardy’s work is haunted
not simply by the figure to whom he wrote his finest elegies, his first wife Emma
Gifford, but in many more subtle ways: a poet whose philosophical sophistication is
apparent from his earliest meditations upon time, history, and public and private
memory, the challenge of unravelling the ghosts and ghostlinesses of his writing, its
idiom, formal rigour and often overt self-referentiality, is no picnic. Rummaging
through the layered supplementarities of successive volumes (each ‘retravers[ing]
old terrain’ and yet also ‘supplementary to each other’, p. 12) produced during a
poetic career which, overlaying the tracks of the novelist, was itself supplementary,
Armstrong’s gracefully written and theoretically scrupulous account both
complicates and enriches the way as, he points out, individual poems ‘often read as
if they had already theorized themselves’ (p. 6). He moves from the spectral realms
of Hardy’s sceptical but imaginative interest in the psychological, informed by
contemporaneous philosophical-scientific debates about materialism and
spiritualism, to trace how childlessness (and the rumoured illegitimate son) echoes
throughout the poet’s meditations on private and public loss, before addressing the
historiographical positions adopted in occasional poems such as ‘The Convergence
of the Twain’ and ‘Channel Firing’. In individual readings which hardly falter,
Armstrong’s acuity revitalizes the most well-worn of the poems. I can’t recall a
more stimulating or satisfying account of a poet for whom I’ve more than a soft spot.
Scant attention is paid to Hardy by the periodicals aside from Poetry and Nation
Review. He proves little more than a filter for James Keery’s rather disorderly two-

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part discussion of Donald Davie’s controversial treatment, ‘Inspired Triangulation:


Thomas Hardy and British Poetry’ (PNR 26:v[2000] 39–41) and ‘The Old
Immortality Bunfight’ (PNR 26:vi[2000] 52–4). More fruitfully, David Yezzi, in
‘Thomas Hardy and American Poetry’ (PNR 26:iii[2000] 18–23), answered the
recent reissuing of Davie’s work by contesting its claim that Hardy’s influence
‘dissipated on its way across the Atlantic’. Yezzi traces the reach of Hardy’s
presence in such figures as Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, John Crowe
Ransom and even Pound, not only in their poetry, but in their own and others’
critical writings (e.g. Yvor Winters on Robinson) and, in the case of Ransom and
more recently his student Robert Mezey, in their editing of Hardy’s poems. In
conclusion Yezzi admits the partiality of his study, citing Bishop, Jeffers, Bogan and
Penn Warren among other gaps in his argument. (That there is more work to be done
on the complexities of Hardy’s position vis-à-vis modernist poetry was underscored
in the following issue by a letter from John Lucas (PNR 26:iv[2000] 3), querying the
reliability—in the light of a series of discrepancies brought to light in the book itself
and later in Martin Seymour-Smith’s biography—of Graves’s Goodbye to All That,
the source of Hardy’s infamous dismissal of vers libre. For Lucas, Hardy’s interest
in both Pound, to whom he had written, and Eliot, proves the untrustworthiness of
Graves’s account.)
The appearance of a Penguin Modern Classics edition of Charlotte Mew’s
Complete Poems, edited by John Newton, indicates that popular taste has begun to
catch up with scholarly interest in this poet. However, a disappointingly perfunctory
preface only implies, rather preposterously, that there is little to be said about her
oeuvre, in spite of increasing critical evidence to the contrary. See, for example, the
special issue of Victorian Poetry devoted to ‘Women Writers 1890–1918’ (VP
38:i[2000]), which includes Dennis Denisoff’s account, ‘Grave Passions: Enclosure
and Exposure in Charlotte Mew’s Graveyard Poetry’ (pp. 125–40). Denisoff
discovers in the moribund poetics of, for example, ‘In Nunhead Cemetery’,
‘Madeleine in Church’, and ‘The Narrow Door’ a highly gendered and sharply
political reappropriation of the grave as site of liberation for a ‘woman-centred
economy of affection and desire’ (p. 139). On the other hand, critical attention
brings its own troubles, as a brief piece, ‘Poetry’s Maw’ (PNR 26:vi[2000] 11) by
Val Warner, the most vigilant of Mew’s protectors, makes clear. She upbraids Ian
Hamilton for ‘a chronological mistake’ in a discussion of Mew’s publishing
history—broadcast on Radio 3 in a concert-interval talk entitled ‘Against Oblivion’,
and featuring four neglected twentieth-century poets—which ‘rendered
meaningless’ much of an account drawn, she says, from Hamilton’s work in
progress, a twentieth-century version of Lives of the Poets. The mistake (confusing
the date of a new edition issued in 1921 for the date of Mew’s first publication,
actually 1915) led Hamilton into error after error. He got told, as they say.
The pre-war writers have had a lean year. Poetry plays little part in Paul Peppis’s
reassessment of the political complexities informing the emergence of modernism.
In Literature, Politics and the English Avant-Garde: Nation and Empire, 1901–
1918, which he describes as ‘less a work of literary or art criticism or of politico-
aesthetic theory than of cultural history’ (p. 18), Peppis re-excavates the influence of
nationalist-imperialist ideologies over the European avant-garde. Wyndham Lewis,
Vorticism and Blast are his chief interests. Although he emphasizes his inclusive
approach, which aims to destabilize existing accounts of the pre-modernist moment

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by reading its literature in the light of its contemporaneous rather than post-war
culture, and while figures such as Pound and Eliot inevitably haunt the work, Peppis
pays little more than lip-service to poetry as a whole, and only at any length in the
specific context of the war. Among the handful of poets he does mention (Bridges,
Brooke and Ford Madox Ford among them), the most interesting choice is Helen
Saunders, whose restlessly powerful ‘A Vision of Mud’, appeared in the ‘War’
number of Blast. Edward Thomas is the only other ‘Georgian’ to receive attention,
vide Martin Dodsworth’s rescuing of ‘Adlestrop’ from the late Antony Easthope’s
attentions, in ‘Edward Thomas, Seamus Heaney and Modernity: A Reply to Antony
Easthope’ (English 49:cxciv[2000] 143–54). Dodsworth’s brief but deliberately
ample reading of this resonantly familiar poem—answering a 1997 article published
by Easthope in the same journal, ‘How Good is Seamus Heaney?’ (English
46:clxxxiv[1997] 21–36), was lent an unwarranted poignancy by Easthope’s death
prior to its appearance. Dodsworth offers few surprises in correcting Easthope’s
unrefined account of Thomas’s so-called anti-modernism, in alignment with that
growing band of scholars intent on lifting modernism free from the binary-driven
matrix by which it is conventionally confined.
The Great War has spawned the usual range of treatments, many of which take
retrospection as their focus (just as OUP marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Paul
Fussell’s monumental The Great War in Modern Memory by reissuing it with a new
six-page Afterword which briefly acknowledges the book’s dated dependence on
Northrop Frye). Daniel Hipp’s ‘Ivor Gurney’s Return to the “Private” Experience of
Warfare: Rewards of Wonder and the Poems of 1919–1922’ (ELT 43:i[2000] 3–36),
considers poems written after the end of the war but prior to Gurney’s
institutionalization in 1922. Hipp argues that Gurney’s experience of military life
and combat had a curiously positive effect on a highly strung individual whose
mental state was never robust. When the outbreak of war prompted him into the
highly regulated, decision-free life of the private soldier, the routines of trench
warfare, Hipp contends, brought him a psychological security which, when
hostilities ceased in 1918, gradually disappeared. When poems like ‘First Time In’
(of which there are two versions, interestingly compared here) and ‘First March’
revisit and rewrite the wartime experiences described in earlier work, they do so
with longing for the temporary equilibrium of the time. This highly personal subtext
helps both to blunt and sharpen the mixture of public and private tensions which
typically define war poetry: in Gurney’s case, the internalized struggle for mental
peace both mirrors but subverts, even transcends, the horrors of the conflict on
which the later poems draw; reviving them sustains him, albeit, tragically, not for
long.
Similarly, Norman Kelvin’s long and dense account of ‘H.D. and the Years of
World War I’ (VP 38:i[2000] 170–96) is concerned to show how the poems which
appeared in Sea Garden [1916], later collected as The God, underpin and are
continually returned to later in an intimate cycle of self-referentiality. Kelvin is not
alone in figuring this as palimpsestic: Diana Collecott usefully deploys the same
term at more satisfying length in her H.D. and Sapphic Modernism, 1910–1950. The
first substantial study of H.D. for too long, this careful examination of the private
and public terrain of an elusive poetics speaks to recent feminist and post-
structuralist debates about the intersection of sexuality and identity, as well as to a
growing constituency of modernist revisionists about the reconciliation of text,

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intertext and context in the self-conscious lexical and tropic shiftings of H.D.’s
highly wrought classicism. Collecott’s tracking of the Sapphic resonances of this
elegant idiom is shrewdly judged. Having combed the oeuvre for evidence of direct
borrowings of Sapphic fragments (an appendix charts the frequency with which
these crop up), she reflects on the cultural as well as the personal and poetic
significance of H.D.’s choice of resource. As an articulate but muted woman writer
whose texts survive as fragments, and as a model of sexual ambivalence, her choice
of forebear offers H.D. both public and private context. In Sappho’s practice and
language, fractured as it was, she found an ancient poetic guide, language and
image-store such as Pound and Eliot found in Homer and Virgil, as well as an
emotional and psychological place from where the marginalized female
communities, to which Bryher introduced H.D. after the breakdown of her marriage,
could challenge and overturn the cultural norms which excluded them. Likewise, for
Collecott, ‘in associating her own writings with Sappho’s, which Swinburne had
described as “mutilated fragments”, [f]ar from presenting a diminished female body,
H.D.’s doubling of herself with the Lesbian poet covertly opposes men’s power as
writers, editors and critics with an empowered lesbian body’ (p. 15). Many of H.D.’s
earliest readers will, as Collecott acknowledges, have recognized the codings this
critique unpacks in reflecting on the ways in which the poetry frames its semiotic
and semantic utterances about the cultural and literary place of the woman-identified
(and by no means exclusively lesbian) woman in the modernist (and, thanks to
writers like her, by no means either exclusively male or exclusively heterosexual)
project. Collecott’s scope allows for both breadth and focus, lending a large
portfolio of critical debates a historical coherence which remains valuably elastic;
thus it can gesture at the presence of the highly coloured Romantic/Decadent
influences—mediated chiefly for H.D. by Swinburne—which murmur through her
poetic language. In this, and as its title hints in other ways, this book is much more
than the transformative revision of a single writer: Collecott locates her critical
narrative firmly in a woman- (rather than exclusively lesbian-) identified writing
tradition while confidently, and without undue fuss, positioning her subject in a
primarily female writing community. Such affirmative acts of gendering, even if
they are not intended to be overtly political, are in themselves transformational;
taking the gender-orientation of H.D.’s literary and social contexts for granted is one
way of quietly calling the masculinity of literary modernism into question.
Although Yeats’s colourful and contradictory presence informs a number of
discussions, few treat him in isolation; almost all, however, follow the lead taken by
Paul Muldoon, in his inaugural lecture as Oxford Professor of Poetry (published in
pamphlet form as The End of the Poem: ‘All Soul’s Night’ by W.B. Yeats) in
concentrating on the later work. As ever, the word-wizardry of Muldoon’s lecture is
worth relishing for the suppleness and amplitude with which he invests a
characteristically impacted idiom. In another closely argued but less virtuosic
reading, ‘Yeats’s Rough Beast: The God for the Slaves’ (ELN 38:ii[2000] 61–71),
Daniel O’Hearn bravely unpicks the considerable and complex ideological and
spiritual tensions of ‘The Second Coming’. In pondering the opposition, set out in A
Vision, between the ‘primary’ and the ‘antithetical’, O’Hearn anticipates one of the
interests of Fran Brearton’s excellent The Great War in Irish Poetry: W.B. Yeats to
Michael Longley, one of two good longer treatments. Much like its counterpart,
Steven Matthews’s Yeats as Precursor: Readings in Irish, British and American

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Poetry (also reviewed by Brearton in section 8), Brearton’s forward-looking


approach recontextualizes two enormous discourses by examining the various
points of their intersection, and, as her title hints, converses throughout with Fussell.
Around 35,000 Irishmen (out of some 200,000 who enlisted) died in the conflict.
Such poignant details underpin this sophisticated analysis of, in the pre-1945 first
section, the varying responses of Yeats, Graves, and MacNeice to the fact, function
and effect of a war in which Ireland’s part has habitually been misunderstood, if not
underestimated. As Brearton proves, Yeats is more interested than he pretends in a
conflict he professed to ignore, not least because of a belief (which underpins the
whole book) that ‘All creation is from conflict’. However, as Yeats also knew, this
was no more the kind of war that mantra imagines than its poetry would prove to be
the kind of nationally significant ‘creation’ he would have wished for. In fact, for
Brearton, his reluctance to write about the war himself and disdain for poets like
Wilfred Owen argues the depth of his uncertainty about the effect of a conflict which
to some extent overshadowed, but also enlivened, interest in a domestic political
agenda. Hence the different nuances of the four elegies he would write for Robert
Gregory. Yeats’s equivocation emerges as the common reference point for the
following chapters, each retracing a particular set of creative tensions attending its
subject, respectively Graves and MacNeice, to his relationship with Ireland and his
response to the war. Graves, for example, is carefully resituated in the complexities
of a shifting literary context: if he is habitually written out of Irish literature, his part
in ‘English’ poetry is also misunderstood. Brearton understands Graves’s entire
oeuvre as a lengthy working out of a coherent response to the war which proves not
only the accuracy of Yeats’s mantra but also the significance of his example. There
are interesting parallels between ‘A Vision’ and The White Goddess, for example. In
the chapter on MacNeice, Fussell takes second place to Samuel Hynes, whose work
on the mythologizing of the Great War is the starting point for an examination of
how MacNeice’s rehabilitation, by contemporary poets such as Michael Longley, as
a poet of Northern Ireland, further complicates his response to the conflict. Although
MacNeice is distanced from the Great War by age as well as upbringing, his interest
in the subject not only reminds us of its impact on his generation, but of his
difference from his peers in the Auden group, not least because of the way in which
his own ideas borrow the ambivalence he sympathetically explores in The Poetry of
W.B. Yeats.
Matthews’s treatment, covering not one but three different literary cultures and
focusing more decisively on Yeats, seems both broader and narrower than
Brearton’s. In some ways, the case he makes is obvious: ‘Reading Yeats through the
poets he has influenced is another way of re-reading Yeats himself, setting him in
different lights and cultural contexts’ (p. 38). However, his study of a predictably
diverse and fragmented array of poetic conversations with this generative, tension-
filled presence, not all of which obey Harold Bloom’s formula of poetic influence,
seems virtuosic (apart, that is, from some remarkable lapses of grammar and general
ungainliness of expression). Yeats, after all, was the master of self-reinvention,
ceaselessly warring, in public and in private, with any and all of the cultural
traditions—historical, political, aesthetic—with which he knew himself, like it or
not, to be associated. Bloom, Paul de Man and, most usefully, Derrida all enter a
discussion of influence which, agonistically, strives and fails to escape its own
Bloomian beginnings. Embedding what is, in fact, a survey of considerable range

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(moving, for example, from MacNeice and Austin Clarke to Auden and Davie to
John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate, being those who come closest to my domain)
in Yeats’s dualistic sense of the word ‘tradition’ as that large cultural context by
which the self is simultaneously secured and effaced, Matthews probes Bloom’s
impacted paradigm through his textual deconstructions. Focusing on aporia-rich
poems like ‘The Choice’, he reaches through Bloom towards more supple Derridean
tropes of supplementarity and undecidability, which colour the poetic re-
encountering of Yeats wherever and whenever it has taken place since his death. If
this confident book has a flaw it is perhaps that it overreaches itself in attempting to
treat so many of those individual encounters. Even so, it creates a sense of Yeats’s
poetic stature more successfully for that breadth.
A much shorter essay by Matthews notes Byron’s impact on Yeats’s mature
idiom, and therefore, rather by default, on modernism—in all its divergences—
overall. ‘Yeats’s “passionate improvisations”: Grierson, Eliot, and the Byronic
Integrations of Yeats’s Later Poetry’ (English 49:cxciv[2000] 127–41), finds
Herbert Grierson partly responsible for the ageing poet’s effort, in mature poems
such as ‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewitz’ and ‘Coole Park
1929’, to reintegrate the public and private responsibilities Yeats once strove to
separate. That shift in perspective was first commented on by Eliot, in the 1940
memorial address he delivered at Westminster Abbey, and to some extent
underwrites the Yeats commemorated in Little Gidding. Matthews, however, is the
first to retrace them to Byron, who is treated at some length in Grierson’s The
Background of English Literature (published, and avidly read by Yeats, in 1925);
the repeated use of ottava rima in the later poetry serves to support his case. He
proposes that it is in this effort, to ‘re-integrate’ the passionate poetic self of private
experience with the voice of public knowledge, that the later Yeats departs most
conclusively from the principles and legacy of a modernism which was always more
Eliot’s than his.
In a fairly fallow year for Eliot himself (not helped by the reluctance of some
publishers to forward review copies), I’ll start with one I missed last time: M.A.R.
Habib’s The Early T.S. Eliot and Western Philosophy. A lively prose makes this
penetrating examination of the philosopher manqué more readable than you might
expect. In the first comprehensive scholarly account of Eliot’s chief philosophical
writings (the doctoral work on Bradley, three unpublished graduate papers on Kant
and a sceptical manuscript paper on Bergson) Habib pursues the irony which the
poet cultivated under Harvard luminaries such as Irving Babbit and George
Santayana. Situating Eliot in the ‘heterological’ tradition (opposing the post-
Enlightenment liberal-humanist ideology reaching from Russell to Locke and
Hume), Habib systematically examines how the ironist’s philosophy is refined in the
complex stance of his poetics, and major critical principles like those of
impersonality and tradition. Arthur Symons’s view of Symbolism’s opposition to
bourgeois materialism propels Eliot—via Schopenhauer and Bergson—towards
Laforgue, for example. In Laforgue’s humorously ironic poetics, the philosophically
problematic relationship of the One and the Many is resolved by unifying the one
fragmented self with the self-consciously dualistic version which stands outside and
transcends it. From this example, Habib traces in the ironic voices of Prufrock and
the lady of ‘Portrait’ a similarly elaborate and often deftly humorous synthesis of the
poetic with the philosophical. But if antagonism to the liberal-humanist tendencies

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of bourgeois thought underpins Eliot’s interest in Kant and Bradley—his


dissertation illuminating the self-aware forms of the 1914–19 poems—his attitude to
them remains broadly ironic, just as his despairing pessimism remains, ironically,
embedded in the economic, aesthetic and cultural institutions he professes to
deplore. Habib’s account comes fruitfully to rest on the ironic philosophy of The
Waste Land, embodied in the dualistic form and equivocal utterances of Tiresias.
Irony is also implicitly at issue in Andrew John Miller’s ‘“Compassing material
ends”: T.S. Eliot, Christian Pluralism, and the Nation State’ (ELH 67[2000] 229–
55), which pursues what Barbara Hernstein Smith, in Contingencies of Value
[1988], called ‘the double discourse of value’ in Eliot’s work. Miller claims that the
dualities of the poet’s socio-political position, as an outsider striving for economic
and professional security, inform his rhetorical articulation of the conflict between
the material and the spiritual concerns of his world. He finds the tensions between
Eliot’s pronouncements on the autonomy of art and artist, and his own relentlessly
industrious working life, reflected in the dialectical relationship of Church and state
in ‘The Hippopotamus’. Meanwhile the only chapter of Murray Roston’s Modernist
Patterns in Literature and the Visual Arts to prove relevant to this review—‘T.S.
Eliot and the Secularists’ (pp. 43–85)—ponders the ambiguous spirituality of The
Waste Land. For Roston, the poem’s refusal to ally itself with either a specifically
Christian or secular outlook reifies early twentieth-century interest in the distinction
between the spatial limits of known finite space, as theorized by Euclid, and the
limitless space, beyond the grasp of human reason, lying outside it. What first found
visual expression in the Cubists’ efforts to realize a universally unstable fourth
dimension or ‘new measure’ of space, and was reflected in the popularity of
mysticism and the occult among intellectuals of the time, is echoed for Roston in
The Waste Land’s ‘yearning for metaphysical truths’ which ‘would lend meaning to
the sterile actuality of human experience’. Hence the poem’s popularity among
secularists, in contrast to the hardening Christian dogma being worked out in later
poems, such as ‘Ash Wednesday’.
Otherwise, Notes and Queries (47:iii) offers the following Eliotian morsels. In
Michael Whitworth’s ‘Eliot, Schiff, And Einstein’ (N&Q 47:iii[2000] 336–7), a
reference in a 1922 letter to an unidentified Einstein suggests four possible
candidates; music critic Alfred and historian Lewis both seem outsiders, while a
certain J.W.N. Sullivan, known to both correspondents, might or might not have
provided a link with physicist Albert. However, letters exchanged between Schiff
and Wyndham Lewis in 1922 argue for Carl, a German art critic, who had asked
Schiff to suggest books for a study of twentieth-century art. The Sacred Wood was
on Schiff’s list. Meanwhile, James T. Bratcher, in ‘The Reference to “Stetson” in
The Waste Land’ (N&Q 47:iii[2000] 338–9), speculates that the reference to
‘Stetson’ in The Waste Land may have been triggered by a visit made to London in
1919 by John B. Stetson Jr., son of the wealthy Philadelphian hatter. Stetson’s
purchase of H. Buxton Forman’s library in the course of the visit later realized a
huge profit when it was auctioned in New York, perhaps stoking the poem’s anti-
materialist argument. Finally, K. Narayan Chandran, ‘T.S. Eliot’s Recall of W.E.
Henley: East Coker III and “Ballade of Dead Actors”’ (N&Q 47:iii[2000] 339),
hears William Ernest Henley in the theatricalities of lines 101–14 of ‘East Coker’
III, where Henley’s parade of characters and props fades away: ‘Into the night go

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one and all’. A comparable set of theatrical similes in Eliot’s poem concludes ‘They
all go into the dark’.
Ever heartened to find the work of women, especially those writing in the febrile
aftermath of the Great War, given space in the journals, I was glad to come upon the
piece on modernist Mina Loy by her biographer Carolyn Burke in PNR. (Becoming
Modern: The Life of Mina Loy [1996] was regrettably not covered in these pages at
the time of its publication.) Burke’s account of the uneven fortunes of her subject,
‘What’s in a Name? Or, Mina/Myrna/Muna’ (PNR 27:i[2000] 30–2), begins by
claiming that Loy’s stature in scholarly circles has increased; in the absence of
anything to review here I can only echo her hope that more notice will be taken of a
figure too frequently sidelined—nodded at en passant, if mentioned at all—among
a crowd of peers. Burke depicts Loy’s career as a modernistic progression of self-
reinventions, graphed by the name changes which punctuated it. The abbreviation of
her real name (Lowy) was a deliberate effacing of her Jewish origins with a
suggestion of the French, for the purposes of her first art exhibition. Although her
own success was eclipsed by that of the film star Myrna Loy, with whom she would
always be confused, as Burke reveals it was in fact the young starlet Myrna
Williams’s adoption of the poet’s name which caused the muddle in the first place.
Loy’s counterfeiting of herself included varying the pronunciation of her first name
when it suited her, and challenging the misogynistic Futurists in the verse satire
‘Lions’ Jaws’ as ‘Nimo Lyo alias | Anim Yol alias | Imna Oly’. Similar disguises
helped to shield her from the scandal following the publication of ‘Love Songs’
[1915] in the experimental magazine Others. Her strategy has been replicated in
various fictitious representations of Loy in more recent times (including a musical
of her romance with the boxer/poet Arthur Cravan). For Burke, this seems to signal
a healthy effort to accept the transformative instincts and practice which make Loy
the important modernist she was.
Among little else on the so-called Thirties Poets, PNR found room to review a
good selection of lesser-known or neglected writers, including three of the women
whose contribution was underlined in Jane Dowson’s revisionary anthology Women
Poets of the 1930s [1996]. John Press, in ‘Bernard Spencer: A Poet of the Thirties’
(PNR 26:iii[2000] 52–5), argues that this MacSpaunday crony be recognized in
what ‘journalists and literary historians have agreed to call the Poets of the Thirties’.
He quite fails to recognize how little currency that so-called agreement retains in the
wake of critics such as Dowson, Valentine Cunningham and Jan Montefiore. His
detection of ‘the authentic voice’ of those poets in a mere six lines of Spencer’s
‘Greek Excavations’ (deemed to reveal ‘sympathy for the individual, whose simple
desires … are frustrated by the representative of power and greed’) doesn’t help.
Spencer was certainly one of the crew: right sort of age, social background and
education, and published in the same sort of places (MacNeice’s periodical Sir
Galahad, while co-editing Oxford Poetry [1930] with Spender and contributing
some twenty-odd poems to Grigson’s New Verse between 1935 and 1938).
However, having left Britain for Cairo in 1940, where he spent the war and came to
know Keith Douglas well, he published virtually nothing until Editions Poetry
London (via the indefatigable Tambimuttu, who also saw Douglas into print)
belatedly produced those early poems as Aegean Islands [1946]. It will take more
than the ‘ordered elegance’ of Spencer’s writing to justify Press’s claims. But for his
unnecessarily paternalistic use of both writers’ first names, Peter Scupham’s highly

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personalized appraisals of Sylvia Townsend Warner, in ‘Shelf Lives: 11’ (PNR


26:v[2000] 63–5), and E.J. Scovell, in ‘Shelf Lives: 9’ (PNR 26:iii[2000] 26–8), are
more constructive. Townsend Warner is acclaimed for ‘a razor-sharp sense of fictive
life and the theatre of habitat’, the ‘deceptive simplicities’ of a plain but musical
idiom, and ‘that mordant equipoise which is her trade-mark’. Her younger
contemporary Scovell (whose final collection, Listening to Collared Doves [1986],
Scupham himself helped to publish at the Mandeville Press) is commended for ‘a
reticent candour, a clean exactitude of phrasing’ and ‘that sense of a slight thing
closing over its own mystery’ which argues her committed interest in the apparently
insignificant. Although the column format constrains Scupham’s recuperative
efforts, in my view both women leave Spencer standing.
Arguably, Robert Graves’s collaborator Laura Riding Jackson has more right to
our attention than any of the other three: PNR began to prepare for the centenary of
her birth in January 2001 by publishing three excerpts from her unpublished critical
writings, probably intended for two books currently in production (presumably to
mark the anniversary itself) in ‘A Centenary Portfolio: 1’ (PNR 27:ii[2000] 27–30).
All were written after 1950 (the earliest extracted from a letter written in 1969), but
read ‘Petty Pomposity, Pompous Pettiness’ for the savage dismissal of what Riding
Jackson describes, with glorious disrespect, as the ‘spurious’ superficiality of
Auden’s apparent intellectualism: ‘With Auden, the sayer of the words is not
expressing in words a real action of mind. He is using his intellect as an agent of
intuition to choose words that, with luck, will have a meaning-force of some
impressiveness … relying physically on some intellectual good fortune presumed by
him to preside over his personal destinies as a human being’ (p. 28). Riding
Jackson’s aggrieved sensitivity to Auden’s ‘transplanting of structures of poetic
expression and statement from my work into his’ prompts her to dismiss him as ‘a
born intellectual loafer’, and reject Edward Mendelson’s reiteration—in The Early
Auden [1981]—of Auden’s claim that Riding Jackson’s influence over him was ‘a
triviality of youthful “imitation” very early abandoned by him’. There is surely work
to be done here.
Auden is the subject of the only significant book about the period. Rainer Emig’s
W.H. Auden: Towards a Postmodern Poetics reconceives Auden as a writer in
whom the awkward conversation between the modern and the postmodern comes
alive. This is one of those clear-sighted books that renders a complex and tightly
controlled argument straightforward enough to make you wonder why no one has
thought of it before. If Emig’s repositioning of Auden appears provocatively
modish, perhaps that reiterates the extent of his subject’s grip over the academy.
Emig blames this for the general misconception of a poet less socio-historically
bound than most commentators allow. In reply he dares to postmodernize (as it
were) the never quite modernist, relocating Auden amid the ambiguous
potentialities of the ‘border territory’ in which Geoffrey Grigson, with rare
perception, first discerned him. Thus a beautifully built account reveals how this
most chameleon of poets engages in his own, often far-sighted, way with the cultural
developments of the twentieth century. Working cautiously through the oeuvre,
prose and plays as well as poems, it traces how Auden’s ambivalent early interest in
the language and precepts of modernism gradually hardens into outright rejection of
an aesthetic which naively seeks to answer uncertainty with coherence and order.
Emig’s purpose is to overturn the accepted narrative of Auden’s poetic progress.

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The early experiments are found to anticipate and test out the suspicions which in
the later work cohere into a sustained reflexive enquiry into the relation of language
and meaning, self and other: ‘a farewell to the established notion that Auden’s early
poems are brilliant rhetorical propaganda pieces seems inevitable’ (p. 79). What
begins in the early poems as a wrestle with the process of signification turns, in The
Orators, into an investigation of the interrelation of self, language and authority
which ultimately begs to resist the modernist will to closure, chiefly through the
careful displacement of voice: as a poem such as ‘The Wanderer’ finally underlines,
‘individuality as well as textuality can only be envisaged in terms of exile’ (p. 119).
The mature poetics, apparently less radical, refines this problematizing of voice by
probing the contextual influences of nationhood and history. Accompanied by
stylistic change, emigration emphatically testifies to the positive effects of
displacement on subjectivity; for Emig, the idiomatic restlessness of the American
work is playful, part of an overall project to undermine authenticity and cultural
homogeneity which now seems uncannily postmodern, and confirms Auden as the
enigmatic inhabitant of the shifting domains of the borderland. Arguing the
‘paradoxical coherence, at least of problems’ (p. 8) of this poetics, this study makes
confident use of a range of literary theorists, moving smoothly from Saussurean
linguistics to the debates stimulated by post-structuralist thinkers such as Derrida. In
reconfiguring Auden as postmodernist, Emig’s masterly re-reading not only
radicalizes but convincingly rehabilitates a writer whose work deserves and repays
the kind of sophisticated scrutiny it gets here.
Although he was active during and, like Auden, well after the 1930s, the late
modernist Basil Bunting has never been closely associated with any particular
period of the century. A year older than Riding Jackson, his centenary year has been
marked by Ric Caddel’s new edition of the Complete Poems, published by Bloodaxe
alongside a double cassette recording of the poet himself reading, in that gruffly
mesmerizing way of his, from ‘Briggflatts and Other Poems’. If the tribute seems
understated, it also seems well judged; Caddel’s brief new introduction reminds us
of the poet’s reticence (‘never explain—your reader is as smart as you’). If there is
explanation to be found, as Caddel hints, and the recordings underline, it is in the
phonic inventiveness of this poetics, sometimes echoingly plangent, sometimes
gratingly discordant. The collection combines Bunting’s own Collected Poems with
the much-debated Uncollected Poems (complete with its own editorial preface),
which Caddel defends on the grounds that not only is it ‘justified in its context by its
own intrinsic interest’ (p. 14) but that ‘it is necessary to present it in order to define
it, and distinguish it from the Collected Poems’. (p. 179) Bunting has little in
common with the more conservative neo-Georgian James Reeves, other than their
acquaintance with Laura Riding Jackson. Reeves features in another of Scupham’s
columns, ‘Shelf Lives: 13’ (PNR 27:i[2000] 40–2). Respectful of ‘the courteous
exactitude’ of ‘curiously delicate webs of sensation’, Scupham rightly refuses to
overlook ‘a darkness there too … Reeves carries a constant sense of being possessed
and teased by disturbing psychic fragments’. None of the avuncular use of the first
name suffered by Townsend Warner and Scovell here, you’ll note. In his pursuit of
the formal dexterity he always relishes (‘the ghosts both summoned and exorcised
by the musical disciplines by which he pursued his craft’), Scupham acknowledges
the importance of Robert Graves’s loyalty to the younger poet. He fails, however, to
pay enough attention to Reeves’s collaborative relationship with Riding Jackson for

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Alan Clark: ‘Letters’ (PNR 27:ii[2000] 4). Clark notes not only that one of Riding’s
poems, ‘Preface to these Poems’ both prefaces and supplies the title of Reeves’s first
collection (The Natural Need [1935]), but that she publishes several of Reeves’s
poems as well as two essays, one jointly authored by LR and JR in the three issues
of Epilogue [1935–7]. He also draws attention to the 1933–40 correspondence, now
in Cornell Library.
The poetry of the 1940s has enjoyed unusual attention. Mark Rawlinson’s broad-
based survey of the literature of the period, British Writing of the Second World
War, concerns itself mostly with prose, partly because of its interest in the popular
discourse and the focus on works circulated in wartime, but the poetry is not
neglected. This intelligent book examines how the literature of the Second World
War both reiterates and contradicts the critique of conflict and violence which was
the legacy of Great War writers such as Wilfred Owen. Instead of seeking to weigh
the later corpus against the earlier, Rawlinson ‘sets out to say something about the
way the war was understood by those who fought it’; in doing so, he reviews the
relationship between the material events of war and their political ramifications,
alerting us to how ‘the contradictory values invested in state-legitimated killing’ are
represented and reflected on in the literature (p. 3). Electing, imaginatively, to
organize a vast amount of material with reference to specific theatres of war,
Rawlinson chooses the poetry of Keith Douglas to illuminate the isolated, isolating
conflict played out in the alienating but strangely resonant emptiness of the North
African deserts where the poet, who was finally killed in the D-Day landings, spent
most of his war. Douglas’s confident, casual and elegantly ironic poetic idiom,
‘marked by a fascination with the appearance of altered flesh’ figured in
‘Vergissmeinnicht’, for example, ‘as a textual skin and an eviscerated volume …
which demand to be read and physically probed’ (p. 119), registers the uncertainty
of his continuing existence amid oblivion. Despite his fatalism (he never expected to
survive the war) Douglas did not shirk combat: he is depicted as the ‘flâneur of
battle, immersing himself in its crowds (literal and spectral) … in search of “rhyme-
booty”’. The two versions of the conflict—its brutal disrespect for individual and
socio-cultural life, and the grotesquely effective aesthetic potential which it
generates as a result—are never resolved, making for a poetry which stoutly refuses
to overlook the provisionality of experience. Rawlinson’s sensitive and detailed (if
necessarily short) appraisal of Douglas is followed by a much sketchier account of
Alun Lewis, ‘the war’s non-combatant war poet’, discussed alongside Day Lewis,
Eliot and Edwin Muir’s contributions to the public discourse (often through the
pages of Cyril Connolly’s Horizon). In an otherwise impressive book, this is a
disappointing reminder of how rarely, despite the recuperative efforts of scholars
such as Catherine Reilly, the poetry of female non-combatants such as Edith Sitwell
(who was both published and favourably reviewed in Connolly’s journal in the
period)—unlike that of their prose-writing sisters (Vera Brittain, Elizabeth Bowen,
Olivia Manning)—is given serious critical attention.
Two other books have helped to boost Douglas’s profile in the meantime, thanks
to his biographer Desmond Graham. Faber’s swift and glossy reissue of the
definitive new revised edition of Keith Douglas: The Complete Poems—which
Graham initially saw into print for Oxford Poets before its list closed in 1999—
appends a new preface to Ted Hughes’s introduction, explaining various editorial
changes. These reflect Graham’s interest in the preparations which Douglas himself

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made for the publication of his poems in 1944, and are substantiated by the poet’s
correspondence, a lavish selection (not, its title would suggest, wholly complete,
although this is not made absolutely clear) of which, edited by Graham of course,
has also appeared (The Letters of Keith Douglas). Nicely produced, judiciously (if a
touch over-earnestly) edited, with helpful biographical notes on the correspondents,
this book not only underlines Graham’s considerable contribution to Douglas’s
much-improved status, but offers a much richer and fuller account of a poet whose
charm, lively sense of humour and emotional insecurity are peripheral to a
profoundly disciplined poetics. The letters of the energetic schoolboy, witty and
volatile student lover, and deeply affectionate son, are coloured by infrequent
insights into the developing practice of the poet, in touch with Edmund Blunden,
J.C. Hall, and even T.S. Eliot. The poet emerges most frequently in the years spent
fighting in Africa (‘Myself, I never do anything heroic’, p. 243), from where he
managed to get himself published in London, alongside the work of Hall and
Norman Nicholson, in Selected Poems [1943]. The largely sporadic commentary on
the poetics in letters from 1942, often dominated by the details of daily life, is at its
keenest in 1943, as he finally receives Selected Poems, learns of Tambimuttu’s
supportive interest, and defends his changing idiom from Hall: ‘To write on the
themes which have been concerning me lately in lyrical and abstract forms would be
immense bullshitting. In my early poems I wrote lyrically, as an innocent … I have
(not surprisingly) fallen from that particular grace since then’ (p. 294). Such
comments are illuminated by a brief essay, included among some short stories in the
appendices, which casts interesting light on Mark Rawlinson’s ideas: ‘Poets in This
War’ [1943] avers that ‘the poets who wrote so much and so well before the war, all
over the world, have been silenced … they do not write because there is nothing
new, from a soldier’s point of view, about this war except its mobile character. …
Almost all that a modern poet on active service is inspired to write, would be
tautological … while English civilians have not endured any suffering comparable
to that of other European civilians’ (pp. 351–2).
In conclusion, the eminent critic Barbara Hardy, in Dylan Thomas: An Original
Language, has produced a rewardingly concentrated account of the charged
inventiveness of Thomas’s language, drawn from a series of lectures given at the
University of Georgia. Emphasizing the poet’s imaginative achievement over and
above his obscurity, Hardy’s treatment is as celebratory as it is scholarly; in
particular she urges respect for that breadth of vision which exceeds the regionalism
and nationalism on which many commentators focus, the ‘articulation—usually
implicit—of an aesthetic psychology, a humane reflexivity, and what now seems
appropriate to call the green philosophy, a politics of natural vision and a belief in
what Coleridge called the unity of being’ (p. xiii). Her wider perspective encourages
Hardy to reposition Thomas amid the vaster and more fluid aesthetic realm of
modernism. Dubbing him a ‘language-changer’, after the example of Shakespeare,
Dickens, Hopkins, and especially James Joyce, she explores how the sensuous self-
awareness of his poetic idiom underlines the poet’s sense of his recuperative powers
of expression. This in turn makes sense of his fascination, literary and actual,
psychological and poetic, with the theme of ‘greenness’ in which his Romantic and
modernist inclinations repeatedly meet and converge. Finally, Dent has produced a
revised new edition of Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters, edited by Paul Ferris,
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appeared. Along with numerous amplifications to footnotes and identifications of


sources and locations, as Ferris’s rewritten introduction points out the additions
include the very first irrepressible letter reproduced here, written, at the age of about
12, to Thomas’s grown-up sister Nancy. However, reading between the lines it
seems clear that the industry generated by interest in Thomas memorabilia has
prohibited, in one way or another, the inclusion of other material.

7. Post-1950 Poetry

Philip Larkin has been due for extensive critical reassessment for some time, and
Booth, ed., New Larkins for Old, a collection of fifteen essays, represents the best
current revaluations of his work. Each essay enters into the spirit of beating out the
dust of anti-modernist, misogynist, racist Larkin, and exploring a more complex,
ambivalent figure. The collection opens with Barbara Everett’s brilliant exposition
of Larkin’s ‘Money’, to show that Larkin is always more complex and artful than his
casual, brusque style pretends. Many of the essays examine the early Larkin. Edna
Longley, with her usual wit and subtlety, follows an intriguing pattern of thought
which takes us through Larkin’s misogyny and nostalgia, and on to the absorbing
argument that his work exhibits many of the characteristics of decadence. Longley
is just one of the contributors who wishes to rescue Larkin from Kingsley Amis, to
rediscover the Larkin who ‘remembers Yeats and Lawrence’. John Carey argues
that these competing claims to Larkin’s mind are, in fact, discernible throughout his
work as two colliding voices—one the offensive, masculine, right-wing writer who
scoffs at art and culture, the other the sensitive, feminine, idealistic poet who adored
Lawrence. Terry Whalen explores the influence of Lawrence in more depth in an
essay on the impact of Lady Chatterley’s Lover on Larkin in the 1940s. Raphaël
Ingelbien finds some affinities between the late work of T.S. Eliot and the early
work of Larkin; similarly, John Osborne complicates the reductive image of Larkin
as an anti-modernist. M.W. Rowe sheds light on the ‘lesbian fantasies’ in Larkin’s
early stories under the pseudonym Brunette Coleman. George H. Gilpin explores the
relationship between Patricia Avis and Philip Larkin through Avis’s papers. Stephen
Regan returns to a volume of poems, In the Grip of Light, which Larkin prepared in
1947 but failed to publish, and argues persuasively that it represents a ‘complex
formative stage’ in the poet’s work. Regan suggests that the abandoned volume
indicates not the familiar transition of influence from Yeats to Hardy, but instead a
shift in register and vision from the promised dawn of the early post-war years to a
more mature cynicism about the post-war world. Hence, Regan comments, the
portentous ambiguity of the title, In the Grip of Light. Regan finds here not the
nostalgic, belated note for which Larkin has become renowned, but a poet of
remarkable prescience. Other essays explore mythology and mysticism in Larkin’s
work. Place features in essays on Larkin and empire and Larkin from an east
European perspective, and James Booth contributes an essay which compares
Larkin’s and Heaney’s conceptions of place. In the introduction Booth gives an
overview of the fifteen essays, recognizing the diversity of methods and views
offered in the collection as a measure of the diversity of Larkins available in his
poetry and prose. The collection is well worth reading from cover to cover, and does

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much to enrich and complicate the legacy of a poet who is always in danger of being
reduced to his most offensive political views.
The work of Ted Hughes is explored and championed in Keith Sagar’s The
Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes. Sagar is a reliable commentator on
Hughes’s oeuvre, and his long friendship with Hughes has enabled him privileged
access to many early drafts and personal communications. This is the principal
strength of Sagar’s book, that he brings us close to what Hughes was thinking as he
wrote, but it is also its principal weakness. Sagar sometimes relies too heavily on
Hughes’s own account of what he was doing, and does not trust sufficiently in the
potential of the poetry to move beyond a singular artistic vision. This is directly
attributable to Sagar’s explanation of the role of literary criticism, which he sees as
having nothing to do with ‘some prior expectations or critical theory’, but with
‘what we can divine of the author’s own inner idea of what he or she is after’ (p. ix).
At its most impressive, this is a fine account of the evolution of Hughes’s poetic and
mythic vision, but it sometimes sails too close to psychobiography. Sagar’s central
argument is that Hughes is a poet who moves from early evocations of a mythic
‘landscape of mud and blood’ (p. 109), through to the recognition that the role of the
poet is ‘to heal, to discover and embody possibilities of regeneration’ (p. 33). The
book contains an opening chapter on Hughes’s ‘mythic imagination’, a chapter
charting his progress from the world of books to the secret, magical world of nature,
and a lengthy explanation of the evolution of his symbolic vision from ‘blood’ to
‘light’. There is a detailed and insightful analysis of the fourteen draft versions of
‘The Dove Came’, and, presumably as a student aid, an appendix which summarizes
‘the story of Crow’. Sagar’s view of Hughes is ultimately quasi-religious. He charts
the poet’s spiritual journey from nature lover to faith healer, and describes the
process, depicted in Hughes’s poetry and letters, by which ‘he recovered his sense
of the universal spirit of life’ (p. 136). The book is undoubtedly a useful addition to
the study of Hughes’s work, but it would benefit greatly if Sagar could somehow get
out of Hughes’s head for a while.
Ian Gregson’s The Male Image: Representations of Masculinity in Postwar
Poetry [1999] summarizes the current, limited theoretical perspectives on
masculinity prior to exploring how masculinity is represented in the work of a
diverse range of poets. The best chapters examine not just the ways in which
masculinity is represented in a poet’s work, but also how the entire oeuvre and tone
of a poet can be explained in relation to particular models of masculinity. This works
well in the chapters on Ted Hughes, C.K. Williams and Derek Walcott, which deal
with the uncomfortable identification of these poets with masculine authority and
power, and in the chapter which relates the postmodern deconstruction of Frank
O’Hara and John Ashbery to the politics of camp. Gregson has uncomfortable
moments of his own, however, in a tendency in the chapters on Berryman, Hughes
and Walcott, for example, to exonerate male poets from the forms of male sexism
which are apparent in their work. He distinguishes the male sexism explored in his
book as being of a particularly ‘sophisticated and poetic kind’, but does not fully
explore how this makes it different from, or more excusable than, other forms of
male sexism. The problem in part here is that Gregson retains a very tight focus on
the poetry, and on each poet’s oeuvre, and fails to connect the forms of machismo,
camp, sexism, and self-critique he detects in the poetry to their social and cultural
contexts. These reservations aside, however, the strengths of the book lie in its

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detailed readings of gendered assumptions and values in the work of poets as diverse
as John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Adrienne Rich, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney,
Derek Walcott, Frank O’Hara, Paul Muldoon, John Ashbery, C.K. Williams and a
handful of others. Gregson’s criticisms of Rich come too close, for me, to blaming
the supposed excesses of feminism for the crisis in masculinity, although this is a
tendency he scrupulously avoids in other chapters. There are also intriguing
suggestions for how very different poets might share similar assumptions about
gender, such as the fascinating prospect that Ted Hughes and Adrienne Rich bring
to their work similar mythological archetypes of gendered identity, and share a
common commitment to ecofeminism. Again, the tight focus on each poet’s oeuvre
prevents Gregson from developing these suggestions further.
Roy Fisher’s work is difficult to locate amongst the forms and subgenres of post-
war British poetry. This is partly because of the sheer variety of styles adopted in his
poems, from the short epic, A Furnace [1986], to the poetic novel, The Ship’s
Orchestra [1967], from the free-verse lyric, ‘Handsworth Liberties’ [1978], to the
disjunctive, fragmentary form of The Cut Pages [1971]. This is partly the point of
Kerrigan and Robinson, eds., The Thing About Roy Fisher: Critical Studies, a
collection of twelve essays which celebrate the diversity and inventiveness of
Fisher’s writings. This is perhaps one of the most even and brilliant collections of
essays I have read for some time. Each essay advances its own unique set of interests
and concerns skilfully and admirably. John Kerrigan begins with Fisher’s
identification with Birmingham and proceeds to elaborate on his handling of themes
of space and location. James Keery seeks to place Fisher’s early work in the 1950s,
searching through what he might share in common with ‘the Movement’ or the neo-
Romantic, ‘apocalyptic’ poets, and deftly shows the ‘black and cool aesthetic’ at
work in ‘The Lemon Bride’. John Lucas describes the meanings of jazz and counter-
cultural music in Fisher’s life and work in an entertaining narrative which
formulates some intriguing thoughts on the relationship between formal innovation,
musical style and cultural politics. There is fun too in Ian Sansom’s exploration of
comedy and laughter in Fisher’s work, while Robert Sheppard traces Fisher’s
consistent resistance to rigid forms and structures in his prose-poetry. Ian Bell and
Meriel Lland examine Fisher’s interest in fluid, liminal forms, while Michael
O’Neill finds lurking in his treatment of the self a ‘dark, self-subverting poet’.
Marjorie Perloff explains the reasons why Fisher established something of a
reputation in the 1960s as an avant-garde poet who could be found in the pages of
American ‘little’ magazines, but who has since become renowned more for
conventional lyric poetry. Simon Jarvis examines the implications of Fisher’s
‘blockage’ in the late 1960s, an unpromising subject, from which Jarvis derives
some very interesting speculations about the relationship between form and artistic
value in Fisher’s work. Ralph Pite explores productive intertexts between Fisher and
John Cowper Powys. Clair Wills traces a dilemma for Fisher in his representations
of themes of death and absence, while Peter Robinson’s ‘Last Things’ follows up
similar themes of death, closure and ghostliness. There isn’t a dud essay among
them. Moreover, what makes this book absolutely essential for anyone interested in
Fisher is the invaluable chronology and bibliography of his work provided by Derek
Slade. It is perhaps testament to the enigma and diversity of Fisher’s work that there
isn’t a coherent, easy answer to the dilemma posed by the collection. Each of the
essays makes its own inroads and presents its own insights into the character and

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significance of Fisher’s writings, but there remains something about Fisher that is
still difficult to place.
W.S. Milne has written An Introduction to Geoffrey Hill [1998], which was not
covered in the previous volume, and which deserves consideration here. Milne
begins by acknowledging the difficulty many readers find on their first encounter
with Hill’s work, but proceeds to give a very fine account of his recurrent
preoccupations and themes. This includes not only a detailed explanation of his wide
range of reference to historical, literary and mythical materials, but also a
sympathetic exploration of what Milne calls the ‘resistant architecture’ of Hill’s
poetic form. The first chapter of the book establishes Hill’s signature themes and
styles; the second chapter offers a brief overview of his life; subsequent chapters are
devoted to each of his collections—For the Unfallen [1959], King Log [1968],
Mercian Hymns [1971], Tenebrae [1978], The Mystery of the Charity of Charles
Péguy [1983], and Canaan [1996]. The appendices contain two short pieces on his
early, uncollected poems and on his own critical views of poetic form. As befits
Hill’s own sense of being rooted in poetic traditions, Milne provides a detailed sense
of the relationship between his poems and their poetic precursors. At the same time,
he is careful not to become too absorbed in the density of allusion which
characterizes Hill’s poetry, and provides instead a very readable, lucid guide to
reading and enjoying the poems.
Basil Bunting on Poetry [1999] is a collection of Bunting’s lectures at Newcastle
University. Eleven of the lectures were delivered in 1969–70, and the last two from
Bunting’s second series of lectures in 1974. The collection is edited by Peter Makin,
mainly from Bunting’s drafts but also from the taped recordings. The drafts were in
varying stages of completion, so that, for example, Bunting’s remarks on Whitman
are provided only in the form of rough notes, to which Makin has helpfully added
explanatory notes. The theme of Bunting’s lectures is the interdependence of music
and poetry, which he argues is the defining characteristic of the modern poets, and
which he traces through the history of English poetry. ‘I’m no sort of scholar’,
Bunting announces in his first lecture, and Makin argues that the lectures throughout
are characterized by a pose of ‘professional amateurism’. Bunting’s scholarly detail
is sometimes unreliable, but the primary interest of this collection is the poetic
tradition which Bunting traces, the ‘persistent beat’ which he detects thumping
through English poetry. The Lindisfarne Gospels provide the model of form and
complexity which Bunting prizes in the best poetry. Wyat, not Chaucer, ought to be
regarded as the ‘father’ of English poetry, he argues, because Wyat returned to song
and dance. Edmund Spenser is the poet who has given English poetry its special
characteristics, but who also led English poets to ‘overdo ornament and sonority’.
Wordsworth was not a Romantic poet, but instead completes an eighteenth-century
realist tradition. Pound and Zukofsky are of interest because of the musical shapes
they attempt to construct in their work. The collection works principally to
illuminate the artistic values of Bunting, and to enhance our understanding of his
appreciation of poetic sound and pattern.
One senses from William Logan’s collection of essays and reviews, Reputations
of the Tongue: On Poets and Poetry [1999], that every word and phrase has been
chosen earnestly and prudently. Every judgement seems to be weighted with
consideration and authority. This gives Logan’s pronouncements on poetry an air of
sublime confidence and poetic poise: ‘Every poem of value must have a residue. A

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residue is not a mystery or a withholding. It is the result of a continual ignition in the


language, a combustion in the nearness of words’ (p. 12). Somehow you can forgive
Logan his sweeping generalizations about what readers will and won’t like, or can
and can’t take, for the pleasures of his prose. Much of this collection is preoccupied
with American poets, and Logan’s tongue is frequently sharp in damning what he
sees as trumped-up reputations. Of concern to this reviewer, however, there are also
two brilliant and lengthy essays on Geoffrey Hill, in which Logan champions Hill’s
‘charity and integrity’, and his ‘absolute unreasonableness’. The final chapter in the
book is ‘A Letter from Britain’, dated 1990, which explains for American readers
the impoverished state of poetry as a profession in Britain, and surveys the
reputations of contemporary British poets. Here, Logan dispenses his usual acerbic
judgements: Heaney ‘has suffered the palsy of early canonization’, Hughes has
become ‘a spent force in British poetry’, ‘women writing in Britain are as daring as
library paste’. Logan’s evaluations may seem cynical, uncompromising, sometimes
wrong, but they are hard to ignore.
Klein, Coelsch-Foisner and Görtschacher, eds., Poetry Now: Contemporary
British and Irish Poetry in the Making [1999], contains thirty-two essays and one
interview by a diverse range of poets, critics and editors, which represent the
proceedings of a conference at the University of Salzburg in October 1996. It is short
on apparatus, so much so that there are no details of the contributors, but it packs
into just over 400 pages an eclectic mix of essays and commentaries. The essays are
diverse in quality as well as subject-matter, of course; the best are Tim Woods’s
discussion of the consolidation of the new British poetry revival since 1975 and
Peter Barry’s consideration of mythic ‘revisionings’ of London in poems by Iain
Sinclair, Allen Fisher and Aidan Dun. There are too many others worthy of mention
to cite here, but there are useful clusters of essays on ‘little’ magazines and Scottish
and Irish poetry. There are discussions of Carol Ann Duffy, Peter Russell, Edward
Boaden Thomas, Barry MacSweeney, Uli Freer, Allen Fisher, Charles Tomlinson,
Gavin Ewart, J.H. Prynne, and R.S. Thomas, an interview on plastic poetry with
Simon Cutts, and a brief commentary on the genesis of Watersmeet by the late Jon
Silkin. The preface does little more than explain the circumstances of the
conference, and acknowledge contributors and sponsors. An introduction attempting
an overview, or some reflections on the general tendencies of contemporary British
and Irish poetry, might have been difficult, but would nevertheless have been a
helpful addition.
John Freeman’s The Less Received: Neglected Modern Poets is a collection of his
reviews and essays on modern British and American poetry. For the most part, the
collection comprises reviews of single poetry volumes, such as Jim Burns’s A Single
Flower [1972] and Lee Harwood’s Morning Light [1998], although it also contains
a longer essay on George Oppen, some reflections on Romanticism in the 1960s, and
on theory and poetry in the universities. Almost all of the collection has been
published previously, usually in poetry magazines. What brings it together is
Freeman’s consistent clarity of analysis and understanding, his ability to situate each
poet clearly and simply in a neglected tradition of ‘plain-style’ poetry, which he
traces particularly to the influence of William Carlos Williams and, further back, to
William Wordsworth. There are rare and valuable insights in these reviews into the
work of such lesser-known poets as Jim Burns, John Riley, Gael Turnbull, Chris
Torrance, Thomas A. Clark and Lee Harwood, as well as a handful of Americans,

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Robert Creeley, Ed Dorn, Lorine Neidecker and George Oppen. A more expansive
introduction, treating the shared influences and preoccupations of these poets at
greater length, would have been welcome, as indeed would fuller treatments of poets
such as Riley, Turnbull and Burns, but perhaps this indicates that I share too closely
Freeman’s desire that the poets he champions deserve more extensive critical
appreciation.
Agenda devoted a double issue to ‘Thom Gunn at Seventy’ (37:ii–iii[1999]),
which collects seventeen short critical essays on Gunn’s work. Some, by Stephen
Romer and Gregory Woods, are tributes to Gunn’s inspirational influence. Most of
the essays, however, explore specific themes or styles in his poetry. Clive Wilmer
compares Gunn’s poetry from 1954 with that of 1992, and finds there an ‘internal
coherence’, such that the proximity of sex to death in the early poems appears to set
up the images and ideas Gunn would draw upon in his later response to the AIDS
tragedy. Peter Carpenter commends the ‘qualities of apprehension’ in Gunn’s work,
the feeling of all senses being ‘explored and synthesised’. Neil Powell and Stefania
Michelucci, in separate essays, trace resonances between Gunn and Caravaggio.
There are explications of the virtues and craft of individual poems: Martin
Dodsworth celebrates ‘The Hug’; Peter Faulkner explores ‘Matter and Spirit’. There
are more general considerations of Gunn, too: Robert Wells examines Gunn’s
lifelong topicality and underlying preoccupations; August Kleinzahler considers his
‘plain style’; James Campbell thinks of him as an Anglo-American poet; Peter
Swaab invokes Gunn’s praise of Ginsberg to reflect on him as a political poet.
Charles Leftwich charts a shift from ‘Will’ to ‘Being’ in Gunn’s poetic career,
Michael Vince looks at tropes of observation and seeing; Douglas Chambers
interrogates figures of desire and disgust. Patrick McGuinness considers the
relationship between Gunn and Donald Davie, while Wendy Lesser concludes this
celebration of Gunn with a reflective piece on his personality, and the tastes and
values which inform his writing. All of the essays bear the mark of tributes or
celebrations, and yet succeed in refreshing some of Gunn’s work, extending beyond
his usual association with motorbike gangs and AIDS elegies.

8. Irish Poetry

John Goodby’s Irish Poetry Since 1950: From Stillness into History has a claim to
be considered the most important single-author study of contemporary Irish poetry
to have appeared since the 1980s, and cannot, at this stage, be ignored by anyone
with a serious interest in the subject. It argues that Irish poetry has had a chequered
critical history, though not, evidently, a neglected one. Its aim is to repudiate what
Goodby describes as the ‘After Yeats or Since Joyce’ syndrome in contemporary
Irish poetry criticism, and it attempts instead to read Irish poetry as divorced from
the twin father-figures often seen to constrain interpretation. While it lacks
conviction as a continuous narrative, divided as it is into multiple subheadings
which deal with particular poets, and particular moments in history and literary
history, it is an invaluable reference book. It offers snapshots of key figures and
issues, and makes heroic attempts to leave no contemporary poet unturned. But,
despite its rather fragmented form, it does have a particular argument to make. In
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necessitates rejection of the obsessively ‘identitarian’ poetics that have dominated


Irish writing. Unusually, therefore, Irish Poetry Since 1950 gives space to poets
publishing before the ‘Troubles’ began to dominate perceptions of Irish writing, and
it also gives space to Ireland’s modernist and neo-modernist poets, from Coffey to
the present. Goodby’s key argument—that the future of Irish poetry belongs, or
should belong, to those neo-modernists—is one that offers an important challenge to
dominant narratives in criticism of Irish poetry. But, despite the ambition of this
book, the contention remains not proven by its close, not least because some of those
dominant narratives are deliberately left intact—Goodby, for example, tends to see
Irish poetry of a particular generation through Heaney-coloured spectacles, with
Heaney (like Auden before him in relation to the supposed ‘Auden generation’) the
too convenient spokesman for his contemporaries. As a result, for all its delight in
‘plurabilities’ this misses much of the diversity inherent in the work of some of
Heaney’s contemporaries.
Goodby might want to escape what he sees as the constraints of an ‘After Yeats’
syndrome, but Yeats’s posterity inevitably continues to exercise critics. Edna
Longley’s Poetry and Posterity has proved less inflammatory than some of her
earlier works, in part because her Bloodaxe Book of Twentieth-Century Poetry from
Britain and Ireland, which appeared at the same time, drew much of the usual fire.
The Bloodaxe Book can be seen as a work of criticism in its own right, offering as it
does critical introductions to each of the poets included, and working its selection
into a coherent narrative. Longley affirms principles of aesthetic value judgement
that go against the tide of ‘plurabilities’ exemplified in Goodby’s approach, and
constructs as a result an unusually selective canon. Towering over the century for
Longley is the consummate metrist and formalist W.B. Yeats. Few modernist or
neo-modernist writers make the grade, and the anthology as a whole validates
formalism as a more than adequate response to historical crisis. In Poetry and
Posterity, Longley’s essay entitled ‘The Millennial Muse’ works as an
accompanying text for her own anthology, as well as being a devastating critique of
the (often dubious) anthologizing politics of others. It is, as a result, the essay which
has thus far attracted the most attention in the book, running as it does counter to
some of the buzzwords and attitudes prevalent in poetry criticism at the moment.
Not least, the appalling plural ‘poetries’ (coined as an anthology title by Michael
Schmidt in 1994) comes under attack as ‘a pluralism too far’ (p. 223). ‘[P]oetries’,
she asserts, ‘arrive as critical nerve weakens … What Shelley would bother to write
A Defence of Poetries? What Shelley does the very idea silence?’ (p. 224). ‘Critical
nerve’ in Poetry and Posterity is a willingness to make value judgements, a
willingness to see poetry’s timeless and universal qualities even as her criticism
recognizes changing readership perspectives through history. Posterity, it is made
clear at the outset, is an ‘unfashionable concept’ (p. 9), but there’s no loss of
unfashionable nerve in this book as Longley nails her revisionist and formalist
colours firmly to the mast, asserting poetry’s ‘interdependence of pattern and
memory rather than … amnesiac affinity with hypertextual flux’ (p. 17). In Poetry
in the Wars [1986], Longley viewed the twentieth century in poetry as a struggle
between traditionalism and modernism, in which the Irish case brought valuable
perspectives to bear that had been too often overlooked. Poetry and Posterity
continues that debate, though its terms have changed to analyse the struggle between
what she sees as forms of theory misreading poetry, as against the ways in which the

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poetry itself demands to be read. ‘The hostility of some “literary theory” to any kind
of formal measure or pleasure or closure may’, she writes, ‘be more than just another
neo-Poundian outbreak’ (p. 18). There are different enemies around, but the
principles are still defiantly held against the odds. Yeats, and Yeats’s posterity, are
central to this book, helping to define and redefine the ways in which MacNeice,
Auden, Larkin, and contemporary poets locate themselves in history and tradition.
One chapter consists of an extended reading of Auden’s ‘In Praise of Limestone’;
others examine MacNeice’s criticism, Edward Thomas’s ecological concerns, and
Larkin’s decadence. In its concern with the ‘inter-national, inter-cultural dialectics
that shaped modern poetry in English’ (p. 21) Poetry and Posterity examines the
work of Irish, British and American poets, also with a few glances back to Horace.
The book itself becomes more densely written, in terms of its engagement with
theories of history, as it goes along, culminating in ‘Poetry and the End of History’,
which takes us beyond the 1994 ceasefires, to subject the reception of contemporary
Northern Irish poetry to close critical scrutiny.
Steven Matthews, in Yeats as Precursor (also reviewed in section 6 above), is also
concerned with Yeats’s posterity, though he would not use such an unfashionable
word, preferring ‘The haunting echoes of Yeats in subsequent poetries’.
Incorporation of an essentially meaningless plural/buzzword at the outset doesn’t
bode well for the rest of this study. Some books, especially this year, wear their RAE
function more evidently on their sleeve than others; one such is Yeats as Precursor,
which shows all the signs of being put together with indecent haste. The attempted
tone and language of sophisticated theoretical intervention in current debates is
belied by an often predictable approach to the texts. That Yeats’s Romantic
affiliations are also coloured by a ‘divided inheritance and gapped tradition’, and by
the problematic circumstance of being an English-language poet in the Irish
Revival, for example, is not a new discovery, and is lost in rather than illuminated
by frequent invocations of Derrida and de Man here. Nor is it reassuring that
Matthews takes a disproportionately long time to reach the observation that, for
Yeats, style means formalism, immortality and resistance—something every student
of Yeats already knows. Throughout, problems with style (along with some
inaccuracies) obscure an already uneasy argument: misphrasings such as ‘variously-
heard echoes in later Irish poetry, in the work of W.H. Auden and Geoffrey Hill’
don’t help; nor do sentences such as ‘Questioning around, not least, that notion of
reincarnation and resurrection which figures so strongly within both versions of A
Vision, but which is contradictorily present and denied in “Under Ben Bulben” and
“Man and the Echo”’ (p. 39); or, even more bafflingly, ‘As with Yeats’ work, in fact,
the various demurrals and uncertainties do not fundamentally challenge the formal
exactions of the poetry, as they have never done in Mahon’ (p. 85). The scope of this
book is vast; the idea is potentially very rewarding. But this all too rapidly devolves
into a few pages on each poet in terms of their Yeatsian connections, piling up
examples, with its subjects seemingly arbitrarily selected (there are some curious
omissions), and missing much of the complexity of Yeats’s reception in Ireland,
America, and England (which Matthews calls Britain). Its observations add little to
existing scholarship—at times, indeed, we have value subtracted.
Fiona Stafford’s Starting Lines in Scottish, Irish and English Poetry: From Burns
to Heaney has, by contrast, an admirable clarity of style. Stafford is also concerned
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borrow opening lines or epigraphs from other poets. After chapters on Burns,
Coleridge, Shelley and Mangan, she focuses on the ways in which eighteenth- and
nineteenth-century poets are reinterpreted in contemporary Ireland through allusion
and quotation in the work of Ciaran Carson and Seamus Heaney. The primary focus
of this book is not contemporary Irish poetry—Stafford is ultimately more confident
and more convincing on an earlier period—but its singular virtue is her ability to
bring vast knowledge of that earlier tradition to bear on readings of Carson and
Heaney. The range of reference here enables insights that contemporary Irish poetry
critics may sometimes miss. The starting lines are also starting points for a much
wider consideration of cultural exchange. But that virtue is also Starting Lines’s
weakness, at least in terms of its perspectives on twentieth-century Ireland. The
comparison made between an independent twentieth-century Irish state, and
eighteenth-century Scotland after its union with England (on the grounds that both
‘have had to grapple with “post-Union” experience’ in terms of language and
national identity, p. 37) is forced. More problematical is the fact that by ‘Irish
experience’ Stafford consistently means the post-colonial experience of the Irish
Republic, even though both her poets are from the North. The border is lost here,
along with the fact that Heaney and Carson are not from a ‘post-Union’ context. Her
study is innocent of more recent and complex developments in post-colonial theory
in relation to Ireland (in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries). Likewise,
while Stafford is good on the texture of Heaney’s and Carson’s poems in the context
of a broader literary tradition, she also treads some very well-worn paths in Irish
criticism—Carson’s review of North, Kearney on ‘Myth and Motherland’, finding a
‘voice’ in Station Island and so forth—as she also relies heavily on tried and, in
terms of more recent critical developments, not always trusted resources—Corcoran
and Parker on Heaney, the 1980s Field Day pamphlets. The reiteration of familiar
debates (and the irresistible explanatory footnote that places the Eglantine Inn on a
non-existent ‘Malone Street’) suggests that, although a third of this book is devoted
to contemporary Irish poetry, its target audience is probably largely outside Irish
Studies. ‘Burns to Heaney’ in the subtitle of the book is, of course, a convenient
marketing ploy—‘Heaney’ sells—one which might also account for the
chronological disruption in the last two chapters of the book.
For almost thirty years, perceptions of Irish poetry have been dominated by the
Troubles in the North, and by what has been seen as the phenomenon of Northern
Poetry, from Heaney, Longley and Mahon through to the younger generation of
McGuckian, Carson and Muldoon. All these broadly formalist and ‘traditionalist’
lyric poets forge links back through MacNeice and Kavanagh to Yeats. But 2000
was an unusual year in Irish poetry criticism, not least because it also marked
something of a Southern, and/or neo-modernist fightback. That shift is probably not
unrelated to post-ceasefire changing perceptions of Irish writing. Goodby’s wish-
fulfilment narrative in Irish Poetry Since 1950 is also taking on some currency with
another publishing house—University College Dublin Press. Two books this year—
Alex Davis’s A Broken Line: Denis Devlin and Irish Poetic Modernism, and Dónal
Moriarty’s The Art of Brian Coffey posit an alternative narrative to the dominant
Yeats to Heaney line. If certain voices prevail, another few years and ‘Brian Coffey
to Trevor Joyce’ might be the better sales pitch.
Davis’s A Broken Line begins with the Irish Revival, and ends with a look at
contemporary avant-garde writers in Ireland, including Billy Mills and Catherine

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Walsh, with Devlin’s work forming the substantial centre of the book and, in
Davis’s argument, a ‘broken line’ through the century. Davis’s concern at the outset
is to stress the Revival’s links with modernism and with avant-garde movements in
Britain and Europe. The post-Revival concern with ‘Irishness’, and the nationalist
conservatism of writers such as Padraic Colum is then seen by Irish modernists as a
wrong direction, one which their own experimentalism, internationalism, and
multiplicity of influence repudiates. Oddly, Davis makes his argument about the
modernism of the Revival almost entirely in terms of the 1890s. ‘Modernism’ in
Yeats, according to Davis, is to do with ‘Yeats’ highly self-conscious anxiety with
regard to the relationship between his literary output and the social and political
context in which it was produced’ (p. 11). The argument cannot accommodate the
more complex modernist Yeats of the 1920s and 1930s; there’s no sign here of
Yeats’s fragmentation, stylistic change, or of the European range of reference and
context for Yeats’s work during and after the Irish Civil War, partly because these
would themselves disrupt Davis’s narrative. Yeats’s complex relationship with
Eliot’s work in the 1920s and 1930s is also invisible. The study is therefore a
chronological oddity, jumping from ‘The Literary Revival and Early Modernism’
(by which he means the 1890s) to ‘Modernist Poetry after the Revival’ (the 1930s
work of Devlin, Coffey, MacGreevy and Beckett). In effect, this narrative would sit
more easily had Yeats disappeared from the poetic map in about 1909. What we
have here is a narrative that redresses critical neglect of the work of Ireland’s
experimental writers, but that in order to do so excludes equally ‘modernist’ work by
Yeats and Kavanagh from the same period in its turn. In its closing chapters, the
book links Devlin’s work to developments in Irish poetry in the 1960s and after,
through the establishment of the New Writers’ Press, and the work of Trevor Joyce,
Michael Smith and Catherine Walsh. Davis’s agenda becomes more explicit here,
and not dissimilar to John Goodby’s: the ‘critical feeding-frenzy’ in relation to the
work of Heaney, Mahon, Longley, et al. has led to a ‘dominant image of the
characteristic Irish poem: a Movement lyric fractured by the impact of political
violence’ (p. 160). But for Davis ‘the closed lyric … has come to seem increasingly
antiquated’ (p. 161).
Davis’s comments here encapsulate what is probably the dominant argument
going on in Irish poetry criticism at the moment, however dubious its terms. Crudely
speaking, the strategy here, as in Goodby’s book, is to put two possible ‘narratives’
(which might better be seen as complexly interlinked if stylistically divergent poetic
strategies) in competition with each other as if critical victory were possible, and to
argue that one is ‘new’ (therefore good) and the other ‘old’ (therefore inadequate).
It is an attempt, in other words, to replace one supposed critical ‘orthodoxy’ with a
new critical orthodoxy, an ambition which, paradoxically, might seem to run
counter to the challenge to orthodoxy proclaimed by both Davis and Goodby. The
big thing now is not ‘Irishness’, but ‘cosmopolitanism’; Ireland has discovered the
outside world, ergo its poets should do likewise (pace Yeats’s consistently
European as well as national outlook?). It’s a pity that ‘cosmopolitanism’ isn’t
subjected to the same critical scrutiny as ‘Irishness’ has been in the work of
‘antiquated’ and ‘modernist’ writers. But if the overall framework of this book has
its own mysterious breaks and gaps, in addition to the ones it deliberately identifies,
it remains an important text in opening up debate, and in offering sustained, original,
and meticulously researched readings of Devlin’s work in multiple contexts—

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surrealism, Anglo-American modernism, and, to a lesser extent, Ireland. Davis, who


is also the editor of Devlin’s poetry, really gets into his stride in his analysis of
Devlin’s work mid-century, and writes criticism which is important and necessary
for a full understanding of the Irish poetic achievement in the twentieth century.
Moriarty’s The Art of Brian Coffey is the first monograph to appear on Coffey’s
poetry. As Moriarty is aware, the perceived difficulty and obscurity of much of
Coffey’s writing brings its own problems in terms of critical reputation, regardless
of any broader terms of debate. Moriarty’s primary concern is to illuminate that
work, and he makes a convincing argument about the continuity of Coffey’s
aesthetic principles across a long poetic career. Coffey becomes, through Moriarty’s
work, a more seductive figure than he is generally perceived to be. The book
ventures into some of the same areas of debate as Davis’s text, but with some
differences. Moriarty regrets the neglect of Catherine Walsh, but does not put
forward an agenda for the future of contemporary poetry; there is clarity of thought
and expression here in relation to 1920s Yeats; and he works with an awareness that
‘modernism and postmodernism’ are complex and contested terms, refusing any
clear-cut definitions, particularly of the former. His reasons for the neglect of
Coffey’s work are perhaps not entirely convincing in view of the formalist bent of
much Irish criticism—the prevailing fashion of cultural criticism, he argues, does
not allow for the concern with matters of literary craft and stylistic technique needed
to approach Coffey’s work—but he reads the poetry in ways which are textually
sensitive as well as philosophically complex. The most surprising aspect of the book
is the decision to omit consideration of what is probably Coffey’s best-known work,
Missouri Sequence [1962]. Moriarty dismisses it as ‘a sentimental rehearsal of well
worn orthodoxies’ (p. 3). That may or may not be true, but a bolder decision would
have been to include it regardless of whether it fitted with the rest of Coffey’s
oeuvre, and make the case more comprehensively—particularly in view of
Moriarty’s concern to change and develop Coffey’s reputation for a wider audience.
Concern with the relation between Irishness and internationalism is also a driving
force behind Frank Sewell’s Modern Irish Poetry: A New Alhambra, a book
concerned to redress a very different kind of neglect, that of Irish-language poets.
Sewell approaches his subject through case studies of Seán Ó Ríordáin, Cathal Ó
Searcaigh, Máirtín Ó Direáin, and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. The book is aimed at an
English-language as well as bilingual audience. Sewell reminds us that Irish
literature is a ‘dual tradition’; his concern is with the ways in which we can
overcome ‘deaf or blindspots’ between Irish poets working in Irish, and those
working in English (p. 2). His belief is that this can be achieved by ‘tuning in’ to
Irish poetry in Irish, at least in translation, and he complains about those who
‘choose to avoid, ignore, or play down’ Irish-language poets (p. 3). The ambition of
the book is suggestive, as are many of the links it makes, but it is ultimately
unfulfilling. Sewell’s evidence for those who ‘ignore or play down’ poets writing in
Irish is a comment from Peter McDonald that the extent of the dialogue between
those writing in Irish and English shouldn’t be overestimated at this stage. But oddly
enough Modern Irish Poetry itself consistently plays down that dialogue. In effect,
the blind spots, it seems, are to be overcome by learning from Sewell’s interpretation
of these poets, rather than looking for existing dialogues (such as the collaborations
between Ní Dhomhnaill and, respectively, Muldoon, Mahon and Hartnett, none of
which is discussed here). Sewell is defensive—the poets he discusses are, he writes,

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‘Irish poets and, therefore, world poets’ (p. 7)—but also critically naive in such
well-intentioned assertions. The approach is at times too dependent on biography
(‘One cannot exaggerate the toll of physical suffering on Ó Ríordáin’s life’, he tells
us (p. 11), which is doubtless why the point is repeated more than once). There is
also a touch of sentimentality, which turns his approach to the Irish-language
tradition into an act not of critical rigour, but of faith: ‘the Alhambra of Ireland’s art
is open to all visitors … It is entered … via the Gate of Justice … Before entering
the gate to visit the four installations on my itinerary, I pray that my exposition does
them justice’ (p. 8). Modern Irish Poetry should have been a highly significant book,
but it feels like a missed opportunity. This is in part because it seems a personal
journey for Sewell; that doesn’t always make him the best guide.
In Terence Brown’s essay, ‘Michael Longley and the Irish Poetic Tradition’ (in
Peacock and Devine, eds., The Poetry of Michael Longley), he detects in Longley an
apparent ‘disregard for high Modernism and wilful experimentation’ (p. 2). Since
high modernism in Ireland has been pleading its own critical neglect recently,
Longley’s attitude might seem to place him fairly and squarely in the group of poets
who have benefited from Davis’s ‘critical feeding-frenzy’. But although there are
now dozens of books on Heaney’s poetry, this is the first book to appear devoted
solely to Longley’s work, something, incidentally, which is yet to occur for Derek
Mahon. (Matthews omits consideration of Longley from Yeats as Precursor;
Goodby largely ignores both Longley’s and Mahon’s work after the 1970s.) The
essays here were mostly given as symposium papers in 1996, though Alan
Peacock’s closing essay considers Longley’s most recent collection, The Weather in
Japan [2000]. The essays are thematic, not chronological, and the book, obviously,
does not provide coverage of Longley’s entire poetic career, but it is a marker of the
growth of Longley’s reputation, nationally and, more significantly, internationally,
over the last ten years. The instinctive reservation one might have about this
collection of essays from the outset is whether its entirely male list of contributors—
including Douglas Dunn, Michael Allen, Neil Corcoran, Terence Brown, Robert
Welch, Peter McDonald and Alan Peacock—combined with the fact that many of
those contributors are writers and friends from Longley’s own generation, might
colour judgements in the criticism. But the reservation is unnecessary, particularly,
as it turns out, in those cases where it’s most likely to be felt. On the negative side,
Elmer Andrews’s ‘Conflict, Violence and “the fundamental interrelatedness of all
things” in the Poetry of Michael Longley’ struggles unsuccessfully, in the longest
and most sprawling essay in the book, with the fundamental disconnectedness of its
own argument. But the outstanding contributions to this collection (by Dunn,
Brown, Allen and McDonald), in terms of their fluency, formal alertness,
scholarship, and interest, mean that The Poetry of Michael Longley contains
criticism worthy of its subject. Dunn’s essay on Longley’s metrics has the added
bonus of offering insights into his own poetry; Allen’s sophisticated formalism
shames many other critics of poetry; and McDonald corrects various too casually
expressed views on Longley and classicism that have been in circulation since
Gorse Fires in 1991. Brown’s examination of the ways in which Longley ‘extend[s]
the possibilities of the Irish poetic tradition’ (p. 1) is a salutary lesson for critics who
have by and large excluded Longley from consideration because he fails to fit into
their critical framework.

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One such framework might be seen to be Barry Sloan’s, in Writers and


Protestantism in the North of Ireland: Heirs to Adamnation?, since Longley’s
Anglican background is at one remove from the predominantly Calvinistic
Protestantism Sloan investigates in the North of Ireland. But this is only a minor
quibble with a book that is impressive in scope, and more than welcome in terms of
its contribution to debate. A preface by Gerald Dawe situates Sloan’s Writers and
Protestantism as the child-monograph of Dawe and Longley, eds., Across a Roaring
Hill: The Protestant Imagination in Modern Ireland [1985], a collection of essays
which was politically as well as critically controversial. (Could there be any such
thing as the Protestant imagination in Northern Ireland? Surely there was a hidden
Unionist agenda here?) Fortunately, the debates have moved on since then, and the
time is more than auspicious for Sloan’s sustained examination of the link between
Protestantism and literature in the context of Northern Ireland. Sloan traces the
principles and legacy of Calvinism in general and, in relation to Northern Ireland,
specific terms through consideration of commemoration and autobiography,
journeying into the ‘Protestant mind’ individually and collectively. He brings his
findings to bear on sensitive readings of W.R. Rodgers, John Hewitt, Louis
MacNeice, Derek Mahon and Tom Paulin, a familiar tribe of poets invoked not as
‘apologists for Protestantism’ but as ‘its most searching and honest critics’ (p. 5).
Sloan too is a searching and honest critic of that context, both synthesizing an
existing if diffuse body of work on Protestantism and Northern Irish writing into a
systematic and coherent narrative, and consistently bringing new perspectives to
bear on the material.
Jefferson Holdridge’s Those Mingled Seas: The Poetry of W.B. Yeats, the
Beautiful and the Sublime is proclaimed by its publishers as a book which will be
central to the future of Yeats criticism. That might be slightly optimistic—few books
on Yeats can claim that significance, and Terence Brown’s The Life of W.B. Yeats
[1999] is probably the most recent to be able to do so. Nevertheless, Those Mingled
Seas makes an important contribution to Yeats criticism, and is elegantly and
persuasively argued. Holdridge takes as his starting point Burke’s and Kant’s
differing conceptions of the aesthetic as, respectively, empirical and formal idealist,
to show how Yeats, with his essentially dialectical imagination, negotiates with and
between both conceptions in his own poetry and philosophy. Holdridge is concerned
with philosophy, with current ideas in literary theory, more particularly aesthetics,
and devotes attention to some of Yeats’s more arcane writings, including A Vision.
In the process, he also links Yeats’s thinking on the sublime to modernity, and to
other twentieth-century modernists—Woolf, Conrad and Eliot. Despite the potential
quagmire of the subject-matter, the argument is made throughout with clarity and
style.
Yeats’s works have been in something of a publication quagmire themselves in
recent years, as a result of changes in copyright. James Pethica’s Norton Critical
Edition of Yeats’s writings is, as a result, only available in the US and Canada. This
is a matter for some regret, since Pethica’s Yeats’s Poetry, Drama, and Prose is the
most helpful critical edition of Yeats’s work to have appeared thus far. Its
introduction is concise and lucid; it selects extensively from the poetry, and
helpfully sets earlier against later versions of poems to track Yeats’s stylistic
development; and if Yeats’s prose works always suffer in extraction, the editing is
done with a sensitivity that leaves the essentials intact. As important is the fact that

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a third of the book is devoted to selections from recent critical and biographical
studies of Yeats, and to critical extracts from the work of his contemporaries. All the
major names are represented here, from Ellmann to R.F. Foster. Its critical apparatus
enables coverage of much of the groundwork necessary now as a way into Yeatsian
criticism, as it is also an invaluable guide to that increasingly complex world.

Books Reviewed

Albright, Daniel. Untwisting the Serpent: Modernism in Music, Literature and


Other Arts. UChicP. [2000] pp. xiv + 395. pb £17.50 ISBN 0 2260 1254 9.
Anderson, Carol, and Aileen Christianson. Scottish Women’s Fiction, 1920s to
1960s: Journeys into Being. Tuckwell. [2000] pp. 177. pb £9.99 ISBN 1 8623
2082 9.
Armstrong, Tim. Haunted Hardy: Poetry, History, Memory. Palgrave. [2000] pp.
viii + 198. £40 ISBN 0 3335 9791 5.
Aston, Elaine, and Reinelt, Janelle. The Cambridge Companion to Modern British
Women Playwrights. CUP. [2000] pp. 276. £13.95 ISBN 0 5215 9533 9.
Attridge, Derek. Joyce Effects: On Language, Theory, and History. CUP. [2000] pp.
xviii + 208. hb £37.17 ISBN 0 5216 6112 9, pb £14.95 ISBN 0 5217 7788 7.
Attridge, Derek, and Marjorie Howes, eds. Semicolonial Joyce. CUP. [2000] pp. x +
269. hb £35 ISBN 0 5216 6179 X, pb £14.95 ISBN 0 5216 6628 7.
Aucmuty, Rosemary and Joy Wotton, eds. The Encyclopaedia of Girls’ School
Stories, vol. i. Sue Sims and Hilary Clare. The Encyclopaedia of Boys’ School
Stories. vol. ii. Robert J. Kirkpatrick. Burlington and Ashgate. [2000] vol. i. pp.
432. £42.50 ISBN 0 7546 0082 3, vol. ii. pp. 396. £42.50 ISBN 0 7546 0083 1.
Baldridge, Cates. Graham Greene’s Fictions: The Virtues of Extremity. UMissP.
[2000] pp. xi + 207. $34.95 ISBN 0 8262 1251 4.
Barker, Clive, and Maggie B. Gale, eds. British Theatre Between the Wars, 1918–
1939. CUP. [2000] pp. 260. £40 ISBN 0 5216 2407 X.
Bataillard, Pascal, and Dominique Sipière, eds. Dubliners, James Joyce: The Dead,
John Huston. Ellipses. [2000] pp. 223. ISBN 2 7298 0295 9.
Bényei, Tamás. Acts of Attention: Figure and Narrative in Postwar British Novels.
Lang. [1999] pp. 231. £23 ISBN 3 6313 5295 6.
Bond, Edward. The Hidden Plot: Notes on Theatre and the State. Methuen. [2000]
pp. 192. £16.99 ISBN 0 4137 2550 2.
Booth, Howard J., and Nigel Rigby, eds. Modernism and Empire. ManUP. [2000]
pp. xiii + 338. hb £45 ISBN 0 7190 5306 4, pb £16.99 ISBN 0 7190 5307 2.
Booth, James, ed. New Larkins for Old: Critical Essays. Palgrave. [2000] pp. xi +
247. £52.50 ISBN 0 3337 6107 3.
Boulton, James T., ed. The Letters of D.H. Lawrence, vol. viii: Previously
Uncollected Letters/General Index. Cambridge Edition of the Letters and Works
of D.H. Lawrence. CUP. [2000] pp. xvii + 418. £60 ISBN 0 5212 3117 5.
Brearton, Fran. The Great War in Irish Poetry: W.B. Yeats to Michael Longley.
OUP. [2000] pp. ix + 315. £45 ISBN 0 1981 8672 X.
Brewer, Mary F. Race, Sex, and Gender in Contemporary Women’s Theatre: The
Construction of ‘Woman’. SussexAP. [1999] pp. x + 218. £45 ISBN 1 8987 2350
8.

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Brunsdale, Mitzi. Student Companion to George Orwell. Greenwood. [2000] pp. xiii
+ 173. $30 ISBN 0 3133 0637 0.
Burden, Robert. Radicalizing Lawrence: Critical Interventions in the Reading and
Reception of D.H. Lawrence’s Narrative Fiction. Costerus NS 130. Rodopi.
[2000] pp. 378. $64 ISBN 9 0420 1303 6.
Burns, Christy L. Gestural Politics: Stereotype and Parody in Joyce. SUNYP.
[2000] pp. viii + 224. £12.50 ISBN 0 7914 4614 X.
Caddel, Richard. Basil Bunting: Complete Poems. Bloodaxe. [2000] pp. 244 pb
£9.95 ISBN 1 8522 4527 1.
Carey, John. Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the Twentieth Century’s Most Enjoyable
Books. Faber. [2000] pp. xvi + 173. pb £6.99 ISBN 0 5712 0448 1.
Carter, Steven. A Do-It-Yourself Dystopia: The Americanization of Big Brother.
UPA. [2000] pp. xx + 161. pb $29.50 ISBN 0 7618 1729 8.
Caughie, Pamela L. Virginia Woolf in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Border
Crossings. Garland. [2000] pp. xxxvi + 310. £45 ISBN 0 8153 2761 7.
Childs, Peter. Modernism. The New Critical Idiom. Routledge. [2000] pp. viii + 226.
pb £8.99 ISBN 0 4151 9648 5.
Christianson, Aileen, and Lumsden, Alison, eds. Contemporary Scottish Women
Writers. EdinUP. [2000] pp. v + 186. £14 ISBN 0 7486 0979 2.
Cockin, Katherine. Women and Theatre in the Age of Suffrage: The Pioneer Players,
1911–1925. Palgrave. [2000] pp. 239. £42.50 ISBN 0 3336 8696 9.
Collecott, Diana. H.D. and Sapphic Modernism, 1910–1950. CUP. [1999] pp. xiii +
350. £42.50 ISBN 0 5215 5078 5.
Craig, Cairns. The Modern Scottish Novel: Narrative and the National Imagination.
EdinUP. [1999] pp. vii + 256. £14.95 ISBN 0 7486 0893 1.
Croall, Jonathan. Gielgud: A Theatrical Life, 1904–2000. Methuen. [2000] pp. 580.
pb £8.99 ISBN 0 4137 7129 6.
Daly, Nicholas. Modernism, Romance and the Fin de Siècle: Popular Fiction and
British Culture, 1880–1914. CUP. [2000] pp. 228. £37.50. ISBN 0 5216 4103 9.
Darlow, Michael. Terence Rattigan: The Man and his Work. Quartet. [2000] pp.
530. £25 ISBN 0 7043 7114 6.
Davis, Alex. A Broken Line: Denis Devlin and Irish Poetic Modernism. UCDP.
[2000] pp. xii + 212. hb £32.95 ISBN? pb £14.95 ISBN 1 9006 2137 1.
De Jongh, Nicholas. Politics, Prudery and Perversions: The Censoring of the
English Stage, 1901–1968. Methuen. [2000] pp. 272. £16.99 ISBN 0 4137 0620
6.
Delaney, Paul, ed. Brian Friel in Conversation. UMichP. [2000] pp. xxi + 289.
£13.50 ISBN 0 4720 9710 5.
Dromgoole, Dominic. The Full Room: An A–Z of Contemporary Playwriting.
Methuen. [2000] pp. xii + 299. £10.99 ISBN 0 4137 7230 6.
Dukore, Bernard F. Shaw’s Theatre. UPFlorP. [2000] pp. xvi + 267. £42.50 ISBN 0
8130 1757 2.
Dunn, Jane. Antonia White: A Life. Virago. [2000] pp. xii + 484. £9.99 ISBN 1 8604
9795 0.
Earnshaw, Steven. The Pub in Literature: England’s Altered State. ManUP. [2000]
pp. x + 294. pb £15.99 ISBN 0 7190 5305 6.
Easton, Alison (ed.), Angela Carter: Contemporary Critical Essays. Macmillan.
[2000] pp. ix + 228. £13.99 ISBN 0 3336 9216 0.

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Emig, Rainer. W.H. Auden: Towards a Postmodern Poetics. Macmillan. [2000] pp.
x + 237 £42.50 ISBN 0 3337 4557 4.
Esslin, Martin. Pinter the Playwright, 6th edn. Methuen. [2000] pp. viii + 296. £9.99
ISBN 0 4136 6860 6.
Eyre, Richard, and Nicholas Wright. Changing Stages: A View of British Theatre in
the Twentieth Century. Bloomsbury. [2000] pp. 400. pb £16.99 ISBN 0 7475
5254 1.
Ferris, Paul. Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters, 2nd edn. Dent. [2000] pp. xxv +
1,062. £? ISBN 0 460 87999 5.
Freeman, John. The Less Received: Neglected Modern Poets. Stride. [2000] pp. 149.
£9.95 ISBN 1 9001 5269 X.
Fritzer, Penelope. Ethnicity and Gender in the Barsetshire Novels of Angela
Thirkell. Greenwood. [1999] pp. 124. £33.50 ISBN 0 3133 0915 9.
Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory [1975]. OUP. [2000] pp. x + 368.
£30 ISBN 0 1951 3331 5.
Gale, Maggie B., and Viv Gardner. Women Theatre and Performance: New
Histories, New Historiographies. ManUP. [2000] pp. 243. £14.99 ISBN 0 7190
5713 2.
Garner, Stanton B. Jr. Trevor Griffiths: Politics, Drama, History. UMichP. [2000]
pp. vii + 317. £39 ISBN 0 4721 1065 9.
Giannachi, Gabriella, and Mary Luckhurst, eds. On Directing: Interviews with
Directors. Faber. [1999] pp. 142. £9.99 ISBN 0 5711 9149 5.
Gibson, Jeremy, and Julian Wolfreys. Peter Ackroyd: The Ludic and Labyrinthine
Text. Macmillan. [2000] pp. xi + 311. £45 ISBN 0 3336 7751 X.
Giddings, Robert, and Erica Sheen, eds. The Classic Novel: From Page to Screen.
ManUP. [2000] pp. viii + 243. £11.99 ISBN 0 7190 5230 0.
Gillespie, Michael Patrick, and Paula F. Gillespie. Recent Criticism of James
Joyce’s Ulysses: An Analytical Review. Literary Criticism in Perspective.
Camden. [2000] pp. 146. £35 ISBN 1 5711 3217 1.
Glage, Lislotte, ed. Being/s in Transit: Travelling, Migration Dislocation. Rodopi.
[2000] pp. xiv + 217. £40 ISBN 9 0420 0649 8.
Goodby, John. Irish Poetry Since 1950: From Stillness into History. ManUP. [2000]
pp. 362. hb £50.66 ISBN 0 7190 2966 1, pb £15.99 ISBN 0 7190 2997 X.
Gottfried, Roy. Joyce’s Comic Portrait. Florida James Joyce Series. UPFlorP.
[2000] pp. 188. £42.50 ISBN 0 8130 1782 3.
Gottlieb, Vera, and Colin Chambers, eds. Theatre in a Cool Climate. Amber Lane.
[1999] pp. 223. £14.95 ISBN 1 8728 6826 6.
Graham, Desmond. Keith Douglas: The Complete Poems, 3rd edn. Faber. [2000] pp.
xxxvi + 164. £12.99 ISBN 0 5712 0258 6.
Graham, Desmond. The Letters of Keith Douglas. Carcanet. [2000] pp. xxv + 369.
£14.95 ISBN 1 8575 4477 3.
Gregson, Ian. The Male Image: Representations of Masculinity in Postwar Poetry.
Palgrave. [1999] pp. vi + 204. £47.50 ISBN 0 3337 6020 4.
Grene, Nicholas. The Politics of Irish Drama: Plays in Context from Boucicault to
Friel. CUP. [1999] pp. 312. £15.95 ISBN 0 5216 6536 1.
Grene, Nicholas, ed. Interpreting Synge: Essays from the Synge Summer School,
1991–2000. Lilliput. [2000] pp. 220. £19.95 ISBN 1 9018 6647 5.

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Habib, M.A.R. The Early T.S. Eliot and Western Philosophy. CUP. [1999] pp. xii +
289. £40 ISBN 0 5216 2433 9.
Hampson, Robert. Cross-Cultural Encounters in Joseph Conrad’s Malay Fiction.
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5389 7.
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8605 7313 6.
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