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BOOK REVIEWS strate were "new developments in women's writing this century." Indeed , the one piece written in the latter half of the century, Antonia White's autobiographical short story, "Surprise Visit," from 1965, is one of the volume's most affecting, harrowing selections. "Imagination accomplishes more than history," Mark Strand tells us, and its high percentage of "imaginative" writing not only makes this collection lively and engaging, but also challenges expectations of what comprises war writing. It is striking, for instance, that we are given no samples of women's poetry, when it is chiefly the poets of the First World War— Brooke, Sassoon, Owen—who are traditionally conjured most frequently to represent the exemplary war writer. No attempt is made to account for this difference by the editors, who do not, in fact, remark on it at all. This is all the more regrettable when one of the editors' strongest critical arguments is for locating "the sense of emergent ideas, changing modes of writing," "those shifts in perspective which contributed to both Expressionism and Modernism," in the "prototypes of expression" found in the work of the often-undervalued writers collected here. Much has been made of what the war and modernism did for women writers; much less attention has been paid to what women writing in wartime did for modernism. By the last section, the introduction's stirring claims for such an unaccustomed and needed reading of women's war writing become attenuated in the absence of detailed and sustained critical commentary ; when we are hundreds of pages removed from the opening argument, it grows faint and tenuous just when it should be most claimant and effective. Maureen O'Connor Claremont Graduate University Women & Aestheticism Talia Schaffer and Kathy Alexis Psomiades, eds. Women and British Aestheticism. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000. viii + 304 pp. Cloth $68.50 Paper $19.95 "MARGIN in every sense was in demand," wrote Ada Leverson, looking back on her literary career in the 1890s. And so it remains today as the intricate territory of the culture of the fin de siècle continues to be mapped. This welcome addition to the literature establishes the aestheticist movement as a perhaps unexpectedly productive environment for a diverse set of women writers, from Christina Rossetti and Vernon Lee, to Marie Corelli and Laurence Hope. 371 ELT 44 : 3 2001 Aestheticism provided these writers with complex challenges and opportunities , complexities which later also led to the almost complete erasure of their contributions from histories of the period. Here was a movement that celebrated the feminine in its aesthetics and attention to "domestic" arts and crafts—interior design, fashion, the garden—even as it excluded women from its most powerful élites. It made space for non-normative male sexualities and elaborated a feminine sensibility whilst fetishising femmes fatales and prostitutes, and effectively banishing female-female desire from its discourses. As Margaret D. Stetz suggests in her essay, it was also a movement underpinned by ambiguous power relations between aristocratic women patrons and avantgarde male aesthetes, an alliance which maintained what she terms "a form of masculine connoisseurship dependent on silent and passive female spectacles." The very féminisation of culture to which the movement aspired, and the perceived homoeroticism of its agencies in the 1890s, led to the severe revisions of its social influence in the years after the Wilde trials, and to modernism's hard judgments upon a movement to which it owed profound debts. Its female voices disappeared—even Virginia Woolf removed the period from her restored women's literary history in A Room of One's Own. The revisionism of late twentieth-century feminism was finally no more generous to the women aesthetes, and part of the editors' project here is to revise the revisions of fin-de-siècle women's writing that were founded upon a recovery of the feminism of New Womanhood. Lisa K. Hamilton's essay on Sarah Grand and Oscar Wilde confronts the issue directly. She concludes that the political project of Grand's fiction, to recover "the feminine" from the gloves of decadent male aesthetes and to reestablish decadence as gendered degeneracy rather than aesthetic posture, led finally...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 371-374
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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