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authors of the period? Should we continue to invest energy in producing updated volumes of annotations on the less central figures? Should we try to learn by surveys how much and in what way these volumes are actually used by scholars, teachers, and graduate students? It may be a comment on current trends in literary research, but my own informal poll suggests that they are used a lot less than one might suspect. The late Edmund Wilson would have wondered if there were a sufficient gain in human knowledge to justify the effort required by such massive projects as The Annotated Secondary Bibliography Series on English Literature in Transition. I say this without meaning to diminish the role of either the late Professor Gerber in defining a field of study or to detract from the erudition of the editors and contributors, but to raise questions about the direction that this series of bibliographies should take in the future. It has to be said that annotated bibliographies become quickly outdated in the best of circumstances. And it is particularly true now at a time when the way we talk about literature is undergoing fundamental changes. As the critical dialogue changes, summaries that may have seemed appropriate in one critical generation begin to look like newspapers found in the attic—newspapers that contain a few items of real fascination and/or relevant to contemporary issues along with many more items that are of mild historic interest for those with a curious tum of mind. What I am saying is that as ideologies of reading evolve, the subjects of articles not only change, but that the ways we might annotate prior work also change. Given the critical revolution that has been taking place in English studies since the late 1960s, these books are already somewhat antiquarian items. For one can consult these volumes without knowing that the way we discuss critical issues has been changing radically for two decades. Ir the series is to continue to be useful to the current generation of students, it will need annotations that show an awareness of the transformation of English studies. It might be better in the future merely to list minor items, while discussing more important ones—the ones that really do make a contribution—in the format of informed short essays that compare and contrast arguments, approaches, and underlying methodological and theoretical assumptions. Daniel R. Schwarz Cornell University 4. MAX BEERBOHM Robert Viscusi. Max Beerbohm, or The Dandy Dante I Rereading with Mirrors. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1986. $25.00. A new edition of Zuleika Dobson, with illustrations, has been published by Yale University Press, and Ira Grashow's The Imaginary Reminiscences of Sir Max Beerbohm is now available from the University of Ohio Press. The bibliography of secondary materials lengthens slowly but inexorably. A welcome addition to it is Professor Viscusi's study, partly because of its familiarity with larger problems of cultural sociology and a reassuring adroitness in the handling of biographical data. It focuses primarily on two works: The Happy Hypocrite 437 (which has not benefited from this kind of close reading before, though it is amazing how much more still can be said about it), and Zuleika Dobson. The latter takes up a full 90 pages of a 228-page text. The title of Viscusi's book is, in miniature, a statement of the thesis. Being a dandy, or an "improbable peacock," meant~in the 1890s~that Beerbohm had to be "more correct, more carefully fitted, more perfectly arranged" in his writing than all his rivals. Max wanted to stand out from the other dandies who assumed "preposterous airs" and entertained an "Olympian self regard"; to be more visible (i.e., more interesting) than they. He pretended to be the greatest of writers. If we, almost a full century later, reject the values of a dandy, we may find it difficult to sympathize with Beerbohm's pretensions even though they are given to us in civilized dress. Viscusi has some difficulty m adjusting to the possibility that the self-absorbed satisfaction of a dandy has permanently lost its attractiveness. Or perhaps he believes that still one more...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 437-439
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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