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Hart-Davis concludes More Letters by including as appendices two accounts of conversations with Wilde. "Mr. Oscar Wilde on Mr. Oscar Wilde," possibly the result of a collaboration by Wilde with Robert Ross, first appeared in the St. James's Gazette of 18 January 1895; it contains Wilde's acerbic opinions on the London theatrical scene in the flush of his greatest success. The second item, "A Reminiscence of 1898," recounts a visit to Wilde in his post-Reading exile by Wilfred Hugh Chesson, a novelist, critic and admirer of Wilde, which appeared in the New York Bookman in December 1911. Chesson reports Wilde's enthusiastic estimate of Thomas Carlyle: "... the first name in nineteenth century English literature . . . How great he was! He made history a song for the first time in our language. He was our English Tacitus." Wilde, in Chesson's account, was also full of praise for Kipling's poetry, quoting with admiration from "Mandalay" and "The Ballad of East and West." His approbation, however, did not extend to Kipling's recently-published novel Captains Courageous; as he noted, "I object to know all about cod-fishing." More Letters by Oscar Wilde can be recommended to anyone interested in Wilde's life and art. Since in recent years such interest has continued to increase, both research and general libraries will wish to acquire it. Edwin Smith Columbia University, New York 8. LATE VICTORIAN NOVELS AND TERRORISM Barbara Arnett Melchiori. Terrorism in the Late Victorian Novel. London: CroomHelm, 1985. $29.00 "In silence, in darkness, but under the feet of each one of us, the revolution lives and works." So Hyacinth Robinson tells the Princess Casamassima. And so, as Barbara Melchiori shows in her interesting study, innumerable novelists, including Henry James, told their Victorian readers in the 1880s and 90s. As Melchiori also shows, Alfred Nobel's invention of dynamite in 1863, and its frequent use by Fenians, anarchists, and Russian nihilists in the last three decades of the century, helped to stimulate the pervasive feeling that civilization was being mined from within, perhaps about to blow up in one final big bang. In the first two chapters, Melchiori draws from press accounts the details of many "dynamite outrages," a cluster of them occurring in 1884-85, "the year of the dynamitards" (p. 12). "The great day of the dynamitards" was Saturday, 24 January 1885, when Fenian bombs exploded at Westminster Hall, at Parliament, and at the Tower of London: "Many people were injured, both in the Hall and in the Tower, for it was a peak visiting time, while the historic buildings suffered serious damage" (p. 21). But in the 1880s and 90s there were so many acts of terrorism that it is hardly possible to single out a specific day or event as inspiring the "dynamite novels which Melchiori describes. Melchiori notes that "all the major dynamite outrages in England were traced to the Fenians, many of whom were caught and condemned" (p. 5). She then points out that "the dynamite novelists" tended to attribute acts of terrorism not to the Fenians, but "to rather vaguely defined anarchists or, occasionally, 447 Nihilists and socialists": "The Fenian bombs of fact became the anarchist bombs of fiction" (pp. 8, 10). She speculates that most English novelists wanted to keep Fenianism and the Irish question out of their fiction, while still capitalizing on "dynamite" sensationalism. This thesis is weakened, however, when she describes a number of novels focused on Irish unrest, including Trollope's Landleaguers and George Moore's A Drama in Muslin. On numerous occasions, Melchiori accuses her novelists of confounding anarchists and nihilists with "socialists," presumably to the detriment of socialism. But this thesis is also weakened by the fact that anarchism, socialism, and nihilism were all mixed into the radical, partly emigré political brew in London during these years. She mentions "contemporary press reports of the in-fighting at international meetings where the delegates of different movements struggled for dominance" (p. 220). The reference here must be in part to the feuding over the membership of anarchists in the Second International, established in 1889. When the Second International met in London in 1896, the feud centered...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 447-449
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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