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

ELT 48 : 4 2005 Allan.'Pencil, ink, and watercolor [1910-1911], depicts a theatrical costume drawing with handwritten annotations mocking both Maud Allen's Wilde-inspired Salome and the militant suffragette, Miss Christabel Pankhurst. The high quality of the reproductions is a tribute to the care taken to produce this volume, which also includes a bibliography and table of contents. This book would make an excellent companion to university courses on Victorian/Edwardian theatre and culture and is of direct interest to historians and collectors of these periods. KATHERINE E. KELLY Texas A&M University Victorian Transgression Andrew Maunder and Grace Moore, eds. Victorian Crime, Madness and Sensation. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004. xii + 259 pp. $79.95 CATHOLICITY is the keynote of this collection. From crime and criminals, to detectives, modes of detection, victims, trials, insanity, gender and sexuality, the city, and sensationalism—there is something for everyone in this generous, fifteen-chapter smorgasbord of Victorian transgression. With its wide-ranging subject matter and its promise to throw new light on nineteenth-century attitudes to crime and deviance, this book will surely appeal to a wide range of nineteenth-century scholars . Even at such a richly laden table, the finest pieces stand out. Sally Powell's illuminating discussion of the black-market commodification of corpses in the penny bloods enjoyed mostly by the working class reveals how workers themselves were subject to food scares and mutilation threats which, in turn, attracted them to these shocking fictions. Andrew Maunder's incisive essay shows the degree to which female degeneracy was related to gender expectations by focusing on Ellen Wood's sensational novel, East Lynne. Although Victorian anxieties about degeneration are well documented, most studies have been androcentric, and Maunder ably recalibrates our understanding of this unisex "disease ." June Sturrock adroitly argues that sensation novels wove factual episodes into their fictions in order to make the idea of the violent woman appear as a real threat and thus justify the reaffirmation of traditional feminine ideals. Gita Panjabi Trelease's fascinating chapter explains how ingrained colonial suspicions about the mendacious character of Indians motivated the development of fingerprinting. This emergent science's reliance on careful observation of minute details as well as attention to the larger framework was then absorbed into detec466 Book reviews tive fiction, which proposes an entire narrative mode based on precisely this method of reading the world. Leslie Ann Minot's analysis of child-victimization in Dracula offers a compelling account of the rise to prominence of the figure of the child-victim in late nineteenth-century public discourse. In keeping with this collection's title, there are unfortunately a few less than sensational essays here, too. While these aren't in the majority, they are not of the same caliber as the others. Particularly disappointing is Grace Moore's reading of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a covert parable about masturbation in which Jekyll embodies the symptoms described in anti-onanist tracts. Moore's argument is an interesting one, but the evidence she presents to support it is scant and inconclusive. Jekyll's hazy collection of symptoms could support a diagnosis of almost any one of the myriad deviant and degenerative "diseases" of the period. Moore concedes as much in writing that "it is impossible to pin down the precise nature of Jekyll's misdeeds, [but] his narcissism and the symptoms he manifests suggest that his problems may have begun with self-abuse" (151). Perhaps, but narcissism did not manifest itself solely among onanists, particularly in the late 1880s, by which time, it was also ensconced in the symptomatic lexicon of the homosexual. Moore contends that Stevenson didn't need to identify "a crime that could not be named" (152), yet self-love was certainly not the only love that dare not speak its name. Moore's analysis also includes a number of inaccuracies, such as the baffling assertion that Jekyll could not be a homosexual because "a misdemeanour involving other men or prostitutes is unlikely to have been buried in the depths of memory" (152). Why not? This is a classic description of Freudian repression. Equally surprising is the flawed logic behind the argument that Jekyll could not...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 466-468
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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.