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ELT 48 : 4 2005 ship. A hundred years ago, women's literary preferences often dictated movements within the novelistic marketplace through the overwhelming power of their choices as consumers of fiction; as buyers and readers of fiction they still far outnumber men. Mazzucco-Than's trenchant analysis of issues of gender in Henry James's writing points to a series of questions which are as relevant—and as unresolved—today as they were in James's day. VESNA GOLDSWORTHY ________________ Kingston University, UK Sacrifice in Modernist Fiction Thomas Cousineau. Ritual Unbound: Reading Sacrifice in Modernist Fiction. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004. 187 pp. $39.50 COUSINEAU'S BOOK is a study of mythological patterning in The Turn of the Screw, Heart of Darkness, The Good Soldier, The Great Gatsby, and 7b the Lighthouse. His thesis is that inherent in various modernist texts are narratives of ritual sacrifice that can be defined as "scapegoating." On one level the narrators present incidents which they claim to recognise as sacrificial events. Nick Carraway referring to Gatsby's death as a "holocaust" is one example; these narrators present the sacrificial victims sympathetically and solicit empathy for them. But, on another level, the narrators unwittingly make scapegoats of other characters; so for example Nick Carraway turns Tom and Daisy Buchanan into his scapegoats for the death of Gatsby. This unwitting scapegoating destabilises the narrative and provokes the reader to question the narrator's authority, as well as the validity of scapegoating as a communal practice in society. Thus Cousineau claims that the "aesthetic form of each novel proposes, in effect, an imaginary solution to the intractable problem of creating in the real world, a non-sacrificial community ." Cousineau uses Girard as his template for understanding the presentation of scapegoating in narrative. He quotes from The Scapegoat Girard 's delineation between "a scapegoat of the text" and "a scapegoat in the text." In the first instance the text does not acknowledge that the activity it describes is scapegoating, in the second the text does. Thus, Girard argues that, in the first instance the text is complicit in the scapegoating, in the latter "[n]ot only is this text no longer a persecution text, but it even reveals the truth of the persecution" (Girard, 1989,119). There is room here for a sleight of hand in that whilst the first-person, or even the omniscient, narrator may indeed be complicit in 492 Book reviews scapegoating, the author may intend this and for us to judge the narrative voice so, thus exonerating the text itself. It is this sleight of hand which Cousineau sets out to explore. The following chapters deal with a novel apiece and do so in detail. Cousineau embeds his arguments in close textual readings and with a merciful lack of jargon. In each chapter the argument develops from this close reading to engage with other critics in the field. Cousineau demonstrates where his arguments coincide, and more frequently where they clash, with others. That Cousineau's thesis clashes with others is hardly surprising given the nature of his thesis and, in particular, his generally critical view of the novels' narrators. Thus, in The Turn of the Screw, Cousineau proposes that the Governess invents for herself the role of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel's victim. In doing so the Governess, in fact, makes scapegoats of them. The psychological motivation that Cousineau attributes for this scapegoating is the Governess's imagined sense of inferiority to these, her predecessors. Turning to Heart of Darkness, Cousineau argues that Marlow demonises the Company and heroises Kurtz as their scapegoat. He continues that in doing so Marlow subconsciously evades acknowledging the similarity between the methods of Kurtz and the Company. As a result , Cousineau concludes, Heart of Darkness becomes a "challenge [to recognise] Marlow's fallibility without making him a scapegoat upon whom we discharge the burden of our own susceptibility to delusive constructions of reality." In The Good Soldier, Cousineau asserts, Edward Ashburnham only seems appealing because Dowell has "transferred criticism of his hero's pathetic, morally repugnant, or merely ludicrous qualities to other characters ." His final chapter on To the Lighthouse has, of necessity, a more...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 492-495
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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