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Reviews97 one that can also point Gatrell in an interesting direction for the future. The final chapter, "From the White Sea to Cape Horn'; Thomas Hardy and the Wider World," raises difficult questions about Hardy's persistent regionalism in the face of England's great insecurity about its international role — an insecurity that is voiced in different ways by Gissing, Conrad, Forster, and other English novelists. But in Gatrell's eagerness to present Hardy as cosmopolitan, he makes the mistake of taking Hardy's claims to "universality" to mean that he was globally aware: . . . Part of my argument ... is that where Meredith continually imagines his essentially English actions within a European framework, and where Conrad's English protagonists find their identities modified or reinforced in a colonial context, Hardy is anxious for his readers to be constantly aware of the global, even the universal (in a literal as well as a figurative sense) significance of his deliberately circumscribed actions. (175) This non-ironic use of the term "universal" reveals Gatrell's essentialist bias, and Gatrell's willingness to take the role of Hardy apologist further disables the conclusions in this chapter. A more interesting project for Gatrell might be to interrogate or problematize Hardy's regionalism instead of defending it, and in the course of the investigation he could integrate his thoughts about community and environment in Hardy's novels. Simon Gatrell's strength is in his close textual scholarship on Hardy, and he brings that depth to Thomas Hardy and the Proper Study of Mankind. Perhaps, though, his next project will take a more critical stance and develop more focus and definition. LAUREN McKINNEY Temple University Edward W. Said. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf, 1993. xxviii + 380. $24.00 U.S. The crystallization of "some ideas about the general relationship between culture and empire" (xi), Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said's latest foray into "the processes of imperialism" (12), investigates 98Victorian Review "a general world-wide pattern of imperial culture" and "a historical experience of resistance against empire" (xii). Centered around Victorian literature and Victorian society, but also voyaging well beyond that area and period into contemporary American society and global post-colonial politics, Said's study locates the struggles of empire and imperialism at the heart of culture. He argues for a consideration and re-contextualization of imperialism and its underpinnings in all cultural texts, whether they contain only die "shadowy presence" (xvi) of empire found in many early and mid-nineteenth century texts or whether they focus on empire as "a central area of concern" (xvii) as do many writers of the late-nineteenth century and beyond. Said's is an argument that goes to die center of debates about the curriculum, about political correctness, and about multiculturalism, but it is also an immensely moderate call: to read literary texts while attuned to the historical and political context of imperialism that today's post-colonial society, with its cacophony of previously marginalized voices, makes newly visible. But there are difficulties in the project: first, Said's unwieldy and contradictory notion and treatment of "culture," and second, his unwillingness to tackle the question of causality between culture and imperialism. Said describes his notion of "culture" as "those practices, like the arts of description, communication, and representation, that have relative autonomy from the economic, social, and political realms and that often exist in aesthetic forms, one of whose principal aims is pleasure" (xii). In other words, Said wants to hold onto the idea of die "relative autonomy" of culture and of the aesthetics of culture from the political fray. At the same time, Said concedes half-heartedly that "culture is a sort of theater where various political and ideological causes engage on another" (xiii), that "culture can even be a battleground" (xiii). That Said dreams of a world in which culture is neither a battleground nor a theater, where culture is fully autonomous from the economic, social, and political realms, is clear. Said's own personal aesthetics often pretend to partake of this world of autonomous culture, not of today's cultural battleground. For example, Said writes "that some literature is actually good, and that some is bad...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 97-100
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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