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

BOOK REVIEWS eth- century woman intellectual. Her book reveals a vast amount of reading in modern canonical scholarship, and she works hard to locate Lee's work within later twentieth-century critical paradigms of the fin de siècle, the structure of fantasy narratives, and the dynamics of gender politics. At the same time, a more developed account of Lee's personal life and of her literary, social, and cultural milieu would have enriched this study of Lee's undoubtedly significant participation in turn-ofthe -century literature and culture. SARAH BlLSTON Women's and Gender Studies Program --------------------------- Yale University More on the Woman Reader Catherine J. Golden. Images of the Woman Reader in Victorian British and American Fiction. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003. xi + 287 pp. $55.00 GIVEN THE NUMBER of comprehensive studies of the woman reader published in the past fifteen years or so—most notably Kate Flint's magisterial The Woman Reader, 1837-1914—one might legitimately wonder what's left to cover. Catherine J. Golden is sensitive to this comparison, and works hard in her introduction to Images of the Woman Reader in Victorian British and American Fiction to differentiate her study from its most prominent predecessor. Golden highlights her inclusion of both British and American texts, her focus on illustrations in addition to novels, and her lengthier close readings. But the primary difference is that Flint's study examines a variety of cultural documents to reveal the ideologies surrounding the woman reader, whereas Golden begins with those ideologies and looks for them in novels . Part I consists of a "historical overview of women's reading in Victorian Britain and America." Although it is mainly a review of Flint, this section is useful for its concise summary of the ideological arguments surrounding women's reading. Golden handily categorizes these into seven types: the socialization, gentility, educational, and empowerment arguments in favor of women's reading, and the biological, medical, and moral arguments against it. These form the lens of her close readings in Part II, where she analyzes ten novels to show how "authors dramatize and debate dominant ideologies about women's reading." Chapter 2, "Transatlantic Representations of the Woman Reader," pairs Jane Eyre with The Portrait of a Lady, and Wuthering Heights with Little Women. 79 ELT 48 : 1 2005 For Golden, these novels "fix our attention on what and how a woman reads," and she reads them as opposing portraits of what happens to girls who read and girls who write. In her introduction, she also describes these novels as "approximating visual art," but the connection is tentative within the chapter—indeed, it doesn't carry through to the second pairing. This chapter also introduces two recurring subthemes in Golden's study: "how the books women writers read reappear as influential literary companions of their fictional creations," along with the more general idea of ekphrasis, or "what happens when a book is introduced into another work of fiction." To that end, she concentrates on Jane Eyre's reading of Bewick's British History of Birds, a book cherished by Charlotte Brontë in her own childhood, and Alcott's structural and thematic use of The Pilgrim's Progress in Little Women. Likewise, chapter 3, "Prophetic Reading," argues that in order to fully understand Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, we must become familiar with three books read by both the author and her main character, Maggie Tulliver: Defoe's The Political History of the Devil, Anne Louise Germaine de Staël's Corinne, and Thomas à Kempis's The Imitation of Christ. Chapter 4, "Romance Consumers ," considers reading as addiction in Madame Bovary and Mary Elizabeth Braddon's The Doctor's Wife. Chapter 5, "The Case for Compatibility ," usefully groups two canonical works, Mansfield Park and Middlemarch, with Mona Caird's lesser-known New Woman novel, The Daughters ofDanaus, to demonstrate how reading taste was figured as an indicator of marital compatibility. Golden's reading of The Mill on the Floss is one of the few instances where she discusses a fictional scene also discussed by Flint, and here we see clearly the overall trouble with this study. In contrast to Golden's chapter...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 79-82
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Will Be Ceasing Publication
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.