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BOOK REVIEWS Carpenter's book is detailed, extremely well cross-referenced and researched and has a thorough bibliography. The only area which lacked clarification was the question of how popular these Family Bibles actually were. While the Appendix is helpful in surveying the different kinds of text and their editions in different years, it is hard to get a sense of how widely disseminated these texts were because there is no reference to print run figures. It would be interesting to know how many of these Family Bibles were printed in order to try to calculate how big the market was for them, for example, in relation to other kinds of religious material . Although Carpenter clearly demonstrates the wide ranging effects of these texts, it would be helpful to have some empirical evidence of their place in the market, if indeed such evidence exists. ANYA Clayworth ------------------------ Edinburgh Life-Writings of Victorian Artists Julie F. Codell. The Victorian Artist: Artists'Life-Writings in Britain, ca. 1870-1910. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. xiii + 376 pp. $85.99 JULIE CODELL'S The Victorian Artist is not intended to be the usual account of artists' lives or achievements, but is instead an analysis of the ways Victorian artists were presented to their public through a variety of different autobiographical and biographical genres. Codell makes use of recent developments in auto/biographical criticism, which see life-writings as a way of constructing the self and the life in accordance with contemporary discourses. Another way to put this would be to say that autobiography and biography are themselves discourses, that are historically contingent, and offer or permit only certain life-patterns to be reproduced. It is interesting, however, that Codell shows artists ' life-stories as a genre to have some significant differences from other Victorian examples. In particular, in contrast to the inward-looking , spiritual autobiographies of Victorian sages, artists' lives are presented externally, in accounts that stress their professional status and success, their happy, normal family lives, their sociability and cheerfulness . Victorian women artists' autobiographies show none of the modesty and domesticity of other Victorian women writers, but stress instead the same patterns of professionalism and success as their male counterparts, while substituting adventurousness and sociability for the domestic virtues. Codell argues that as autobiographers, artists were to a large extent in control of their public image: biographers were 85 ELT 48 : 1 2005 more inclined to try and fit women artists into feminine and domestic models, or to erase their contributions altogether. In constructing their subjects in these ways, Victorian life-writings are doing considerable cultural work. They revise the Romantic artistfigure , the unworldly or egotistic man of genius, in favour of a new ethos of hard work and financial success. This new artist-figure is no longer in need of a patron, but shines as a typical Victorian self-made man of business . Ruskin's backward-looking construction of the artist as childish, "prelapsarian," and in need of guidance is countered by these contemporary accounts. Life-writings also defend their subjects against any taint of aestheticism, foreignness, or degeneration. Even unpromising subjects such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti are produced as manly and British. Also at work is a nationalistic and at times xenophobic attempt to construct a "British School" that would rival in cultural importance the Italians of the Renaissance. Italian Renaissance texts such as The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists are often made use of as models by Victorian life-writers. The British tradition is derived from Reynolds or Hogarth, whose life stories are re-written to fit this new programme and the new moral and cultural status of the artist. Codell traces these developments through a variety of subgenres: autobiography , family biography, biographical series and dictionaries. She investigates life-writing strategies such as gossip and the anecdote, as well as the different classes of audiences at which different genres are aimed. While all these life-writings are designed to popularise their subjects , some are simpler than others. Codell also constructs from these writings a "typology" of Victorian artists: the Founder, the Prelapsarian, the Bohemian, the Degenerate, the Professional. She sets these types...


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pp. 85-87
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Will Be Archived 2021
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