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160 the minnesota review his study's subject is a "consideration of the relationship between oppositional politics and Utopian writing" (12). That's honest and accurate enough, and on the whole the author keeps on track throughout. The book's argument also exemplifies how thoroughly, if at times problematicaUy, feminism has become a great questioner of, as well as a main source of energies for, contemporary oppositional politics. Demand the Impossible begins with a brief (12 pages) historical introduction, passes on to a section on Theory (27 pages), and then to detailed examination of the four novels (140 pages). The Conclusion (17 pages) sums up the argument and connects it, at times gratuitously, to various current theories and issues. The bibUography and index seem thorough and useful. In a sense Moylan doesn't miss a trick, at least in his readings of the four novels. He has read the books deeply and alertly, displays a scholarly knowledge of them, and seems really to like his subject, writing about it with something Uke love, even. The novels, that is. The historical introduction is too brief, and I find the section on Theory rather forced. These first two sections of the book are, I get the impression, steps that the author felt he had lo take, in order to get to the good stuff. (The Theory section ends: "What remains now is to take the step away from the abstractions of theory and get on to the examination of specific texts.") Still, in the pages on Theory, Moylan does establish the levels of interpretation he doggedly follows in reading the novels: the iconic, ideological and discrete levels (roughly, social, cultural, and individual/generic or formal). This scheme of organization works well enough and makes pretty good sense, but it does seem adventitious at times. The ensuing readings of the novels—cogent, interesting, informative—are the book's strength and make it well worth reading for anyone interested in the subject or any of these four authors. That said, I have some small complaints and one serious gripe. The overt political purpose of the book limits its critical scope. For instance, shouldn't Heinlein's TAe Moon is a Harsh Mistress also be considered in a study of critical utopias, much as one might cringe at the prospect? Lord knows that novel is a long way from contemporary oppositional politics as here defined, but in some sense—generic, historical—it seems to belong, TANSTAFL notwithstanding. A like complaint is that Huxley's Brave New World needs to be considered explicitly as background to the four critical utopias, especially of Woman on the Edge and Triton. I feel that, for whatever reasons, Moylan has practically repressed considerations of John Savage & Company (isn't he Bron's original?), thus risking creation of yet another political unconscious that Theory must surely begin to account for. My gripe can probably be reduced to the vagaries of taste. Delaney's Triton seems to be the star of Moylan's study, followed by Russ's Female Man. But to me there is a great disparity of quality among the four novels. LeGuin's and Piercy's novels are, in my opinion , fine books by any standard. They are also pretty fully imagined. Delaney's book, on the other hand, seems to have been written in haste—it should have been cut by one-third and needs revisions. Russ's novel is patched together of bits and pieces, in spite of its potential interest, and she has not (who else does?) Vonnegut's delicate skill or deft humor to carry it off. But these are, in terms of Moylan's whole book, smaU complaints, and he is a good guide through these four critical utopias. I personally tend to worry a lot about Freud's warning that, even in the better future, the problem of aggression will remain; and the verses of the pop song "Road to Nowhere" keep running through my mind. Nonetheless, I must conclude that Moylan has written a sturdy and valuable book. RICHARD DANIELS 7"Ae Rise ofSocialist Fiction, 1880-1914, Edited by H. Gustav Klaus. New York: St. Martin 's Press, 1984. pp. 278. $35...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 160-163
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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