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254 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Sara Jeannette Duncan. The Pool in the Desert (1903). Edited by Gillian Siddall with an introduction by Rosemary Sullivan Broadview. 244. $18.95 Sara Jeannette Duncan is best known in English Canada for The Imperialist, her 1904 novel set in a fictionalized version of her birthplace, Brantford, Ontario. The Pool in the Desert, first published one year before this novel appeared, is a collection of stories that, like The Imperialist and so much of Duncan=s writing, considers the implication in imperial ideology and colonization of white Anglo-imperial >agents= of empire in the contact zone. Like much of Duncan=s fiction, however, The Pool in the Desert is also specifically Anglo-Indian. Duncan left Canada in the late 1880s and remained in India from 1890 for some three decades, marrying museum official and journalist Everard Cotes. Her Anglo-Indian works compellingly engage with the performance of imperialist ideology on the colonial frontier: not romantic or idealist in their imperialism, however, her novels are complex in their representation of relationships across boundaries of race, gender, and class in the space of India under British rule. The same is true, as The Pool in the Desert demonstrates, of her short fiction. Edited by Gillian Siddall and with an introduction by Rosemary Sullivan, The Pool in the Desert is the second work by Duncan to have been reissued by Broadview Press: Germaine Warketin=s superb edition of the 1906 novel Set in Authority made available an important text whose narrative is engaged with the nature and the effects of British rule in India at a point of crisis in the first decade of the twentieth century. Unlike Set in Authority, however, The Pool in the Desert has been reissued in recent years, in facsimile edition by University of Toronto Press in 1978, and in a Penguin edition first published in 1984, now out of print. This new Broadview edition reproduces the introduction that appeared in the Penguin text, but it is otherwise quite a different product. The text of the collection follows the first American edition by D. Appleton, and the original order has been restored here. This edition, moreover, also presents numerous useful and unobtrusive notes that do not accompany the earlier text, and a range of related material in appendices: the four appendices include material from Duncan=s first published work, A Social Departure (1890); from The Crow=s Nest (1901), her autobiographical account of a summer in India spent outside to treat tuberculosis; a short piece she wrote for the Indian Daily News in 1896; and half a dozen contemporary reviews of the collection. This material usefully supplements the stories= position with regard to AngloIndia and, in particular, of white Anglo-imperial women. These stories are among Duncan=s most interesting studies of Angloimperial culture, representing as they do a displaced, hermetic, and profoundly anxious colonial society, and focusing on questions of gender, sexuality, class, and race, as well as of authority and agency in colonial flux. humanities 255 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Although written and published after the 1890s, The Pool in the Desert is recognizable in relation to earlier fin de si├Ęcle >New Woman= fiction B Duncan=s own, as well as others= B in the degree to which it problematizes normative conceptions of marriage, relationships, and motherhood within the frameworks of national and imperial identity. The story >A Mother in India= critiques the imperial ideology of biological imperative and reproductive duty. The title story, >The Pool in the Desert,= draws attention to the circumstances of desire in conflict with social pressures of the same kinds that are evident in >A Mother in India= B wifely duty, social acceptability , economic necessity. >The Hesitation of Miss Anderson= pivots on the same idea of potential lawlessness on the imperial frontier that in part underpins the narrative of the later novel, Set in Authority, as well as focusing on white women in motion in the space of empire. >An Impossible Ideal= is less clearly engaged with questions of movement and agency: this is the story of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 254-255
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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