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BOOK REVIEWS detailed listings. For example, newcomers to Beardsley would benefit by knowing about Nicholas Salerno's extensive annotated secondary bibliography in Reconsidering Aubrey Beardsley. Moreover, since this is the kind of work you prefer either to browse at home or to have as a source of reference on the office shelf nearby, it's unfortunate Garland didn't issue an affordable paperback. This criticism seems inevitable. Too many scholarly books are just too expensive these days. But this doesn't change the fact that novices and veterans alike will find The 1890s worthwhile; it should be in your university library and in any bibliography for a course on the Transition era. Robert Langenfeld University of North Carolina at Greensboro Womanhood in Texts and Paintings Antony H. Harrison and Beverly Taylor, eds. Gender and Discourse in Victorian Literature and Art. DeKaIb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1992. xviii + 286pp. $35.00 THE TITLE of Gender and Discourse is somewhat misleading. This is a collection of essays about the ways in which womanhood is constructed or reconstructed in Victorian texts and paintings; little is said about the ways in which masculinity is constructed in works of the period, nor is "discourse" a central focus of the book. Rather, the contributors explore the historical and ideological dimensions of femaleness as these are evolved at various levels of discourse. And the majority of the contributors do so extremely well; this is a valuable book. Although most of these essays are concerned with literature or art which challenges dominant ideologies of womanhood, some contributors have explored texts that reaffirm such ideologies or that at least display a profound anxiety about female power, present or prospective. I begin with two essays which are bound to be controversial. Deirdre David startlingly yokes The Old Curiosity Shop with Kim in "Children of Empire: Victorian Imperialism and Sexual Politics in Dickens and Kipling." The two novelists seem to David equally concerned to control "the savage/native," and equally conservative—in different ways— about the politics of gender: "Victorian ideas about gender and race exist in these novels in a relationship of reciprocal constitution." The darkly animalistic Quilp and the pale, refined, pious Nell respectively embody types of savagery and civilization; Nell's death—induced by Quilp's malice—registers Dickens's view that commercial imperialism imports 253 ELT 37:2 1994 savagery (which it pretends to eradicate abroad) into the very heart of empire, and enthrones it there. Nell's suffering fenüninity expresses the collapse of genuinely civilized values. If David had applied this distinction between imperialism and civilization to Kim as well, her reading of Kipling might have been more complex and satisfying than it is. To David, Kim is simply a celebration of well-employed imperial privilege, distinguished among other racist, sexist, and imperialistic texts only by its vivacity; she almost completely ignores the thematic function of the lama, Kim's companion on the road. However, David does successfully demonstrate that "nineteenth-century novels do not need exotic settings to characterize their pervasive representation of imperialism's structure and effects"—and that the politics of gender has much to do with this. The issue of controlling the female is more explicitly raised by Thaïs E. Morgan, in an essay which will usefully provoke many students of Hopkins and Swinburne. Morgan explores 'The Wreck of the Deutschland" and "On the Cliffs" as poems which begin by celebrating an inspired woman, suppress that figure violently, and invoke an overpowering male deity whose relationship with the male speaker displaces the speaker's originally central relationship with the woman. This process (which, by the way, does not seem to me what really happens in "On the Cliffs") conceals and reveals that homoeroticism which in both cases is the ground of the poet's art; it also reveals both poets' misogyny and homophobia. A parallel essay by Mary Ellis Gibson finely exposes Matthew Arnold's profound "uneasiness about women," his discomfort with females as a potential element of his audience and his inability to include a female voice in what Gibson neatly terms his "pseudodialogues" (such as "Resignation" or "A Summer Night"). Arnold 's centrism and his attempts to assume...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 253-257
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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