In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

232 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 chapters were in general a joy. I would, however, have liked an index (not least of all because I think this could serve as a course book), and I could not help but be struck by the inordinate number of typos. This is possibly explained by the fact that errors were kept as original in the excerpts themselves, so perhaps the eye of the editor slid too easily over the rest of the text. (JANICE DICKEN) Gisela Argyle. Germany as Model and Monster: Allusions in English Fiction, 1830sB1930s McGill-Queen=s University Press. x, 257. $70.00 Beginning with Carlyle=s >Germanizing= efforts of the 1830s and concluding with a brief examination of changing attitudes towards Germany during the Third Reich, Gisela Argyle >focuses on selected major topics of German allusion that function in the community of author and reader as criticism of English culture.= In nine chapters, she canvases the works, influences, and allusive interplay between numerous English and German writers whose names include Goethe, Herder, Schiller, von Humboldt, J.S. Mill, Arnold, Bulwer-Lytton, Meredith, Eliot, Mrs Ward, Froude, Rutherford, Gissing, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Conrad, Lawrence, Disraeli, Madox Ford, and Isherwood. This is a long list, and, ultimately, Argyle=s chief ambition B to trace what she at one point calls the >important borrowings, direct and indirect= of English authors from their German counterparts B is not achieved in a really meaningful way. The book lacks argumentative force and overall cohesion, a result of losing sight of the forest for the trees: Argyle is evidently well read and knowledgeable about her material, but might have stood back from the myriad texts touched upon to assess, in more comprehensive terms, the significance of German cultural authority in post-1930s England. More might have been said, for example, about why English >indebtedness to various German thinkers= in the post-Romantic period is a compelling subject, and a more sophisticated inquiry into the nature of literary influence B its workings and forms, but, more important, its relevance as an investigative tool B would have benefited this study. After outlining the major characteristics of the German Bildungsroman as improvised in Wilhelm Meister and imaginatively transliterated for an English audience by Carlyle, Argyle considers Bulwer=s attraction to Schiller and Goethe in the novels Ernest Maltravers and Alice, which melded German ideas with English ones >to fashion for English fiction a heterodox idealist aesthetics and an influential plot model.= Similarly, Meredith=s >highbrow= novels, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel and The Adventures of Harry Richmond, each reveal a critical variant of a central Bildungsroman feature: Richard and Harry are forced to create their identity by rejecting their fathers. Eliot=s Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, in turn, adopt the >German perspective= in humanities 233 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 their concern with the conflicts between individual aspirations and the social medium in order to critique English philistinism and insularity. Unsurprisingly, Argyle finds that the >main qualities of culture [in these late novels] B internal, becoming, harmonious, aesthetic, disinterested B all derive from the German idea of Bildung.= The pace of the study picks up slightly in chapter 7, which examines various fictional narratives of a crisis of faith (Froude=s The Nemesis of Faith, Rutherford=s Autobiography and Deliverance, Gissing=s Workers in the Dawn, and Ward=s Robert Elsmere) to argue that German biblical criticism and scientific knowledge were cited as keys to religious doubt in nineteenthcentury England. The penultimate chapter examines the reception of Schopenhauer =s and Nietzsche=s philosophical systems by several novelists, focusing in particular on Gissing=s The Whirlpool as an >all-inclusive example= of Schopenhauerian pessimism. The book concludes with a consideration of Trollope=s and Disraeli=s attitudes towards the German Reich and allusions to Weimar Germany in the works of Meredith, Conrad, Forster, and Lawrence, among others. Argyle tends to digress into quotation-heavy synopses of topics as arcane (and arguably fusty) as the distinction between Jean Paul=s and Goethe=s editorial modes of recollection in their relation to the tone and structure of...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 232-233
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.