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25. often refers to the Mallock of The New Republic and to Mallock's Influence on Boon. So doing, Wells satirizes both Boon and Mallock. I am grateful to Professor H. E. Gerber for pointing out to me Wells's use of Mallock. REVIEW LITERARY RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ENGLAND AND AMERICA, 1870-1920 Paul F. Matthelsen and Michael Mlllgate (eds). Transatlantic Dialogue: Selected American Correspondence of Edmund Gosse. Austin and Lond: University of Texas P, 1965. The aim of Messrs. Matthelsen and Mlllgate's edition of correspondence between Edmund Gosse and his American literary associates Is "by focusing on the career and friendships of one central figure, to exemplify one important aspect of the Anglo-American relationship at an especially significant and sensitive period." The editors hint at the vastness of their materials and the difficulties of the subject by stating that the rigorous selection of letters according to relevance to theme may have created exaggerated effects; nevertheless, they contend that the impression of Gosse as at the height of his American reputation In the 1880's is "unquestionably accurate." The main limitation of this Imposing, Impressively organized, and vastly informative book may be the huge and many-faceted problem suggested by its scope. The development of the theme of transatlantic relationships, which may be stated another way as demonstrations of cultural and literary initiative within an international setting, takes the form of chronological organization. A "single chronological sequence" from I873 to 1917 Is employed, rather than blocks of correspondence, such as GosseHolmes , Gosse-Stedman, and so on. Often the relationships are interesting for situations and occurrences other than the strictly literary. For example, the suspicious nature of Gosse shows Itself strongly when he draws the consluslon (apparently unfounded) that E. C. Stedman had considered him unsulted for a professorship at Yale University (Letters 71, 75). In the correspondence between Gosse and Holmes, the debonair nature of the latter looms up conspicuously, while Gosse, beaverlike, is busily forming another literary connection. The aging Holmes plays rather easily Into Gosse's literary scheme of things, but the critic has to work hard at forming even a small literary liaison with James Russell Lowell. In their letters, Richard Watson Glider and Gosse transact journalistic business most of the time, although each strongly evinces national bias regarding the literature and culture of his own country. Among the five or six Americans who corresponded most with Gosse, only Howells engages him with a literary subject of general slgnlflcance--thelr stimulating controversy over realism and Romanticism. Even between these two, witty repartee often takes precedence over purely literary matters. 26. While It is "unquestionably accurate" that the correspondence shows Gosse's Interest In the United States at Its height In the 1880's the presentation of the critic with his American literary friendships as "one Important aspect of the Anlgo-American relationship at an especially significant and sensitive period" is a somewhat different matter. First, the phrase "especially significant and sensitive period" is vague description . Do the editors mean a period In which the effects of evolution are sharply felt in the literary world, or the counteraction of the Metaphysical Society with Tennyson taking an important part, or Newman's Influence on literature in the 1870's and 1880's, especially seen in Hopkins and Pater? All these are important cultural aspects of the time. Second, Gosse's correspondence with all his literary associates, except Howells, is rather unimportant as an aspect of English-American literary relationship. The Gosse-Howells controversy over Romanticism and realism involves only a couple of ideas among several which were important for literary people between 1870 and 1920— such ideas as realism, Naturalism, aesthetlclsm, epicureanism, vitalism, Classicism, Romanticism, symbolism, and obscurantism. In the final analysis, "Transatlantic Dialogue" and "international theme" are to a great extent catch phrases which suggest breadth and depth that really do not exist in the book. Of course the new letters are Important for individual study of their authors; however, unabridged editions are needed for finished biographical study. The format of the book Is impressive. And the seemingly formidable task of annotation Is performed thoroughly and efficiently— identification of names and preparation of full bibliographical data for...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 25-26
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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