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Book Reviews Volume 32:3, 1989 ENGLAND IN THE 1880s Margaret D. Stetz and Mark Samuels Lasner. England in the 1880s: Old Guard and Avant-Garde. Introduction by Jerome Hamilton Buckley. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989. Paper $28.50 THE 1880s LN ENGLAND were the beginning of a transition period, the watershed decade that led from the strict Victorian mores to the much more relaxed, but not necessarily superior, world of the early twentieth century. To bring into focus this important and frequently neglected transitional decade, an exhibit was organized in 1985 by Margaret D. Stetz and Mark Samuels Lasner at the University of Virginia Library, and now after a four-year delay, a catalogue for it has been published. As the mid-Victorian giants of the preceding decades had been challenged by the Pre-Raphaelites and Swinburne, so by the 1880s these newer voices were also being replaced by a still younger generation , who spoke "with a new and quite un-Victorian accent," according to Jerome Hamilton Buckley in his perceptive introduction to this survey. The decade, however, has been largely ignored by scholars as being a more-or-less barren wasteland between the Eminent Victorians and the emerging figures of the fin de siècle 1890s, but as shown here there was a genuine continuity, as well as a great diversity of achievement, with the entrenched old guard grudgingly giving way to the avant-garde. The exhibition, as the catalogue title suggests, paid tribute to many: the receding giants (starting with Tennyson), the PreRaphaelites , and the advancing younger generation (Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw, George Gissing, George Moore, Rudyard Kipling, William Butler Yeats and others with fresh and different voices) who came marching onto the scene. The authors, in their lucid and succinct preface, explain, "In compiling this record of an exhibition, what we have aimed at is a fair and comprehensive summary of an intellectually and artistically vigorous period about which there is still much to learn." In arranging the items in the exhibition they wisely strayed beyond the confines of the 1880s, in order to give definition to the decade. As in any broad survey, there must be omissions. For example, there is almost nothing relating to the interesting experiments during the 1800s with French verse forms, particularly by the triumvirate of Austin Dobson, Edmund Gosse and Andrew Lang, who gained prominence as they helped widen horizons to include creativity from beyond 350 Book Reviews Volume 32:3, 1989 the channel. True, books by two of the three are among "The Aesthetes," but with the exception of George Moore's Confessions of a Young Man, items by and about Zola and publication of the letter's works by Vizetelly there is little in the exhibition to illustrate the decade's Francophile interests. The publication of this catalogue gives permanence to an exhibition , which deftly showed the transitional process from Victorianism to Modernism, with both the old and the new having their places in a visual record of what might be described as "the changing of the guard." Displayed at the library were 243 separate items in nine categories, including books, manuscripts, autograph letters (some previously unpublished), caricatures, drawings, photographs, et cetera. Most are carefully described and given learned and witty commentaries by the two authors, frequently with a great deal of amusing information slyly added. Some of their statements, however, might be questioned. For instance in the commentary for item 8, it is said that "Frederick Locker" is remembered for his London Lyrics, when surely he is better known as "Frederick Locker-Lampson" editor of the far more quoted and also "much reprinted" anthology Lyra Elegantiarum. Also it appears that a statement in the note about item 53 is a bit on the extravagant side, where it is said that Theodore Watts-Dutton "immortalized Rossetti" in his 1898 roman a clef Aylwin, when other items in this exhibit attest that Rossetti's position in English literature was well established long before the book was published. There are also a few minor editorial slips, such as "In 1870, on coming into his inheritance, [George] Moore left Ireland 'for Paris and Art,' to study painting with the Impressionists...


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