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140 the minnesota review White. Of course, Fish points out how each of these critics then falls into claiming some position outside mediated knowledge. ? say this because Fish never actually aligns himself with historical materialism. He never mentions Althusser in Doing What Comes Naturally, and though he mentions "marxism" several times—more as he goes along, suggesting that he begins to find it interesting—the word not appear in the index. 4See Althusser's famous essay, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes Toward an Investigation)," in Lenin and Philosophy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971), 127-86. It is remarkable that these two theorists, so unlike in many ways, would use the same idea of interpretive communities (ideologies) in a sense calling their subjects: both Fish and Althusser insist on a subject always already inside the community. See especially pages 30-1, where Fish calls subjects' membership in a community something akin to being "(quite literally) grasped" by the role constructed by the community (or ideology). 'Michel Pecheux, Language, Semantics, and Ideology (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1975). 'Historical materialist critics have recently discussed the concept of overdetermination, following from Althusser in For Marx (New York: Verso, 1969). See especially Rosalind Coward and John Ellis, Language and Materialism: Developments in Semiology and the Theory ofthe Subject (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977); and Robert Wess, "Class, Hegemony, Hierarchy?—Laclau, Mouffe, and the Trajectory of the Althusserian Theory of Ideology" (paper given at the conference entitled "The Politics of Knowledge" in Ljubljana , Yugoslavia June 16-18, 1988). 'It is interesting to note the strangeness of Fish's bedfellows here, theorists with whom he strictly avoided association in Is There a Text In This Class?, namely, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, Paul de Man, and Jacques Derrida. MICHAEL BERNARD-DONALS Consuming Fiction by Terry Lovell. London and New York: Verso, 1987. pp. 188. $34.95 (cloth), $13.95 (paper). 7Ae Rise of the Woman Novelist: From Aphra Behn to Jane Austen by Jane Spencer. Oxford : Basil Blackwell, 1986. pp. 265. $14.95 (paper). The long-standing theories explaining the rise of the novel have recently come under scrutiny. While no one seems quite willing to dethrone Ian Watt or dismiss the significance of his important study of the social and literary conditions that legitimized the genre as literature, a number of scholars have recently focused critical attention on that period in literary history, asking (im)pertinent questions about a central contradiction in Watt's assessment : if, as he writes, "the majority of eighteenth-century novels were actually written by women," why does he elide any discussion of women writers from his consideration of the novel's rise to literary prestige? Lovell's Consuming Fiction and Spencer's 7Ae Rise ofthe Woman Novelist join Dale Spender's appropriately angry Mothers ofthe Novel: 100 Good Women Writers Before JaneAusten to confront the absence of women writers in such literary histories and examine more comprehensively the evolution of the genre. If Watt serves as these studies' chief bogey, Elaine Showalter steps forward as the literary savior of buried women writers, raising them from the deadly obscurity in which they have been shrouded. But where Showalter directs her focus to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries , when the novel had reached a relatively secure literary position, Lovell and Spencer reconsider the seventeeth and eighteenth centuries, when both the novel and professional women writers first emerged as literary contenders. Locating their discussions in that period with its double variables of gender and genre, Lovell's and Spencer's studies analyze both Reviews 141 the history of women writers and the paradox that they should fall out of literary culture just when the genre most associated with them rose. Spencer closely parallels Showalter's model by resuscitating numerous women writers with detailed histories and analyses of their writing, providing readers with a useful sourcebook of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century female authors. Acknowledging the diverse backgrounds represented by such women, Spencer nonetheless asserts that these novelists shared a common bond in their "need to respond both to women's position in a society and to the special role allotted the female writer, based on position" (108). Describing the responses of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 140-143
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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