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ELT 48 : 1 2005 of nationalism and imperialism with material practices per se" (9), her readings risk exactly this elision. In response to a colonizing metaphor taken from one of Woolf 's letters ("rows of books—territories conquered.... Before one can be a poet... one must stand on a pinnacle... and survey the world" [qtd. 3]), Garrity asks, "Is such metaphorical colonization of literary space inevitably a form of imperialization, or is it possible to interpret the modernist mapping of simulacral space in less coercive terms?" The cumulative effect of reading her densely argued chapters is to feel compelled to conclude that only the first interpretive approach is legitimate. Those readers who believe it is not only possible but necessary to affirm the second approach —"to interpret the modernist mapping of simulacral space in less coercive terms"—will find several of the theoretical assumptions of Step-Daughters of England hard to affirm. While these readers may agree with me that Garrity is too smart, too thorough, and too well-read to be questioned about the core arguments of her book that trace the influence of popular rhetorics of maternal redemption on the experimental writings of Richardson, Warner, Butts, and Woolf, they may question the moral meanings that Garrity's debt to postcolonial theory insinuates into her analysis. KRISTIN BLUEMEL __________________ Monmouth University Woolf in the Public Sphere Melba Cuddy-Keane. Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual, and the Public Sphere. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. χ + 237 pp. $60.00 THREE DECADES AGO, Perry Meisel in The Absent Father valued Woolf's essays over her fiction, judging that "Woolf's achievement as a novelist will always be subject to some dispute," while "as an essayist she is very likely without peer in this century" (Yale University Press, 1980, xi). Now, after years of critical neglect, the essays are once again taking a central place in critical work on Woolf, in part because of the 1986 publication of Andrew McNeillie's edition of four volumes of the essays (out of a projected six). Corroborating Meisel's valuation of the essays , this publication has provided the tools for more substantive scholarship on this part of Woolf's writing. For instance, Beth Carole Rosenberg and Jeanne Dubino's collection of articles on Woolf's essays, Virginia Woolf and the Essay (1997) and Leila Brosnan's book on Woolf s essays and journalism, Reading Virginia Woolf s Essays and Journalism : Breaking the Surface of Silence (1997), while emphasizing the 118 BOOK REVIEWS power of Woolf 's "fictional and autobiographical works and their contribution to modernist aesthetics" (Brosnan, 4), concentrate "on the essays in and of themselves" (Rosenberg, 9). These critics make clear that the focus of the criticism has changed: the essays are not seen only "as secondary material to explicate Woolf's novels or her feminism" (Rosenberg, 9). Melba Cuddy-Keane's new book, then, is part of a growing and welcome body of criticism on Woolf's essays. And Cuddy-Keane extends our reading of the essays—beyond individual essays and particular points that the essays illustrate—into their historical context. She shows that Woolf used this genre deliberately as an educational and political tool, a use that reinterrogates early misunderstandings of Woolf as an apolitical writer, presenting yet another way in which Woolf was political not only in her writing but in her réévaluation of what we think political. Cuddy-Keane argues that Woolf questions authoritative values by teaching an alternate, nonhierarchical way of reading. The essays show, when read en masse, that Woolf places herself counter to the critical discourse of the class-bound professions—particularly of the universities with their relatively new subject of English literary studies. Virginia Woolf the Intellectual, and the Public Sphere heightens our awareness, then, of Woolf's challenge to her contemporary political and cultural ideologies. To support her readings, Cuddy-Keane investigates the uses of high-brow, middle-brow, and low-brow culture of the early twentieth century, with the concomitant associations with class-bound intellect. Cuddy-Keane reveals in Woolf's work an erudition and intention integrated with Woolf s rhetorical strategies: "Woolf challenges her own reader by writing a layered text. . . . [She] writes...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 118-121
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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