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the rough and shady political culture oftheir city, while focusing attention on the state and local issues that had first led dieir predecessors to seek greater influence over public affairs. They did this, says Tyler, as had "previous generations of southern reformers ... by melding elements of tradition and modernity into a formula for change that looked toward the future with an eye to the past." I hope that Tyler's fascinating book will be followed by additional studies of other New Orleans women who made titillating cameo appearances in this book, the female "Longites" and the city's black clubwomen. We also need many more local and state studies ofwomen's political activism in the half-century following enfranchisement. I heartily endorse Tyler's concluding statement: "in locales far beyond the Crescent City, patterns ofintense political activity among prefeminist women will be discerned when historians trouble to seek them." Ellen Glasgow New Perspectives Edited by Dorothy M. Scura Tennessee Studies in Literature, Vol. 36, University ofTennessee Press, 1995 251 pp. Cloth, $35.00 Reviewed by Susan V. Donaldson, who teaches American literature and American studies at the College ofWilliam and Mary. She and Anne Goodwyn Jones coedited a collection of essays on gender and southern texts tided HauntedBodies. She is also die author of the forthcoming Competing Voices: TheAmerican Novel, 1861—1914. Ellen Glasgow has long been famous for attacking the South's "evasive idealism" and calling for "blood and irony" in southern literature; but making sense of Glasgow and her work has often resisted die best efforts of students of soudiern literature. As Dorothy M. Scura notes in her introduction to this fine collection ofessays on Glasgow, critics have until fairly recently uneasily classified Glasgow as "a transitional figure in Southern letters, a writer who published books in the time between Thomas Nelson Page and William Faulkner." In critical paradigms dominated by the Fugitive-Agrarians of Nashville, Glasgow remained "an outsider , an anomaly," someone who "did not quite fit the context of the Soudiern Literary Renaissance." But those critical paradigms scarcely allowed for Glasgow 's strongly feminist orientation, which shaped her critique of southern society in general and its designated roles for white women in particular. Her own 98 Reviews pronounced sense ofbeing in lonely rebellion against regional tradition was also a consequence of this feminist orientation. The most substantial contribution made by this collection, which includes essays by fifteen critics, a previously uncollected short story by Glasgow, and a bibliography , is the foregrounding ofGlasgow's feminism and its direct impact upon her fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and artistic and personal identity. Reading Glasgow from an explicidy feminist perspective, as these essays do, reveals a writer whose work, Scura acutely observes, "is being re-envisioned" in terms of its rebellion against conventional notions of southern masculinity and femininity. The result is a multiple portrait ofa woman who challenged die autiiority ofthe white southern patriarchal order and uneasily pondered die consequences of that challenge throughout her life and career, but nonetheless persisted in her probing of conventional gender definitions and boundaries. As Lucinda H. MacKedian observes in her essay, one ofthe strongest in the collection, Glasgow found herself drawn repeatedly, from the 191 3 naturalist-tinged novel Virginia to the 1932 comedy of manners The Sheltered Life, to "the damaging effects of patriarchy on women's lives." She was engaged in a lifelong project to "exorcise her father's ghost and the ghost ofsoudiern patriarchy that he embodies." Ultimately, such an act of exorcism meant considering, as Glasgow herself suggested, her "own dubious identity"—whether she was, as Nancy Walker perceptively suggests in her examination ofthe posdiumously published memoir The Woman Within, the "victim or heroine ofher own story." Just how high the stakes were in this struggle to define herself and her own story, not to mention the shape ofher art, can be discerned in a 1926 short story leading off the collection and titled "Ideals." Published originally in Cosmopolitan, which had just merged widi Heart's International, and rediscovered by contributor Martha E. Cook, who rightly argues for its importance, "Ideals" tells die tale of die endlessly faithful Lydia Westcott, who waits for twenty years for her betrothed to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 98-100
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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