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Reviews89 Like Leps, Thompson is interested in the relationship between popular literature and ideology. He reads each work and each author historically, contextualizing the writer's position in society and his (and it is mostly his) personal politics. Thompson finds, for example, that Kim produces "a romantic, dehistoricized version of India" rather than a representation of "the contestation of cultures" (93) at stake in the imperial encounter. At the same time, in The Secret Agent, Thompson locates not Kipling's valorization of colonial rule but Conrad's ironic destabilizing of "self-aggrandizing imperial rhetoric" (96). But Thompson's readings of Doyle, Kipling, Conrad, and Poe provide no overall take on the relation between literature and politics, no comprehensive theory about the role/power of popular literature in disseminating social values. Thompson concludes only that popular literature is "one of the crucial arenas for the resistance, acceptance, or incorporation of hegemonic values" (6). If Thompson's is a more nuanced study of the literature of crime than Leps's, it is a study that yet leaves its readers with unsatisfied questions about the relationship between empire and crime literature, and the larger relationship between politics and culture. In part, I think, these questions stem from the fact that, despite discussions of Hammett and Christie, Thompson concentrates the majority of his attention on high canonical writers. For a scholar so interested in questions of genre and so attuned to the obfuscations of the political composition the canon, Thompson does little to sketch out the breadth and depth of the field of crime fiction or to place his chosen texts in the larger context of popular literature. In this sense, both volumes make clear the importance and potential power of literature and culture to articulate and construct as "truth" dominant ideological values. The overall structure of that process, however, as well as the limitations of culture as social praxis have yet to be mapped. AUDREY A. FISCH Jersey City State College Thomas E. Jordan. The Degeneracy Crisis and Victorian Youth. Albany: SUNY P, 1993. 335. $59.50 US (cloth); $19.95 US (paper). In The Policing of Families (1979), Jacques Donzelot argued that because of the multiple and overlapping susceptibilities of children to 90Victorian Review different kinds of adult authority childhood is located at the nexus of a range of social activities. Certainly, throughout history, public interest in children has been the wedge used to pry open families and to subject their members to moral regulation. Then, as now, children are the central target of theories and practices aimed at regulating family life. Current public outrage on issues such as incest, physical and sexual abuse of children, juvenile delinquency, poverty, homelessness and the ill-health of poor children have their antecedents in late-nineteenth and early twentieth century social reform programmes. Consequently, the history of children's lives is a strategic area for investigation because it allows us to examine children as both subjects of cultural definition and as clients of institutional practices. The Degeneracy Crisis and Victorian Youth is a study of what Thomas Jordan calls 'the ecology of child development'. The research documents the state of health of Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish children between roughly 1805 and 1914, though a considerable number of tables, graphs, and data sets extend the analysis into the 1920s. Jordan's aim is to consider the role of 'stress' in the lives of children; a conceptual framework which he developed in one of his earlier works, Victorian Childhood (1987). In this research Jordan analyzes specific variables of height, weight and body mass as they were effected by genetics, nutrition, and health. It is his central assumption that these are a 'measure of economic welfare' (115). His analysis of how these varied by social class, region and gender throughout the period, enables him to pose the broader historical question of whether the health of the young degenerated across the nineteenth century? Chapters one, two, and three present an overview of the changes in health, stature and mortality of the population of Great Britain as it underwent the changes associated with industrialization and urbanization during the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During this period the term...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 89-92
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
N
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