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BOOK REVIEWS nais, from his sway. When Wells died in 1946, West wrote a kind of breathless tribute, all the more moving for her refusal to idealize the man or their past together: "Dear H. G., he was a devil, he ruined my life, he starved me, he was an inexhaustible source of love and friendship to me for thirty-four years, we should never have met, I was the one person he cared to see to the end, I feel desolate because he has gone." If nothing else, the Selected Letters will confirm what a complete and accomplished life West led on her own, independent of Wells. As a journalist , she traveled widely, reporting on such defining events as the Nuremberg war tribunal and Senator McCarthy's infamous hearings. To her credit, West was a stalwart critic of international communism—as well as "all the smelly little orthodoxies," as Orwell put it—though she was seen by some to have extenuated or excused McCarthy's proceedings. West vehemently defended herself against this charge, claiming, in a letter to J. B. Priestly, "I have never written or spoken a single word in defense of McCarthy." In the 1960s, West wrote on the "cauldron" of South Africa and the Profumo case; she also testified against censorship of Lady Chatterley's Lover. West not only lived an eventful life, but, as she put it in a 1960 letter to Vyvyan Holland, the son of Oscar Wilde, she also had "a hell of a lot of fun." Part of the Henry McBride Series in Modernism and Modernity, Selected Letters of Rebecca West is obviously the result of many years of careful and diligent scholarship. More than two hundred letters—selected from the estimated ten thousand that West wrote during her lifetime —are included. Professor Scott's annotations are unstinting and informative; a chronology and a section of biographical sketches featuring nearly seventy of West's correspondents are also helpful. In her introduction , Scott makes a strong case for viewing West as a pioneer and a prominent figure in the literary history of the twentieth century. Few scholars, however, would accept without qualification her claim that West is "a defining intellect of the twentieth century." Nevertheless, Selected Letters of Rebecca West will help to ensure that the question will continue to be debated for some time to come. Jim Barloon University of St. Thomas Conrad & Women Susan Jones. Conrad and Women. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999. vi + 252 pp. $70.00 377 ELT 44 : 3 2001 THE TIME has come to revise the long-held view of Joseph Conrad as a "masculine," even misogynistic, author who wrote almost exclusively about a male world for a male readership. Susan Jones's carefully researched and far-ranging Conrad and Women does much to dispel this critical misconception. In her ambitious and largely successful reconsideration of his life and work, she points out that Conrad enjoyed a series of close relationships with women; and she argues persuasively that his fiction, first to last, not only presents complex female characters, but also treats women's issues with sensitivity and understanding. Best of all, the book shows how Conrad drew on the specific traits of important women in his life—particularly those of his mother and of his confidante , Marguerite Poradowska—in creating the strong, multifaceted female characters of his fiction. The purpose of Jones's book is, in her words, "to rehabilitate Conrad in relation to women." To this end, she undertakes several related tasks: "rethinking aspects of the biography, reinstating the importance of female influences on Conrad, and exploring the fiction from the perspective of his confessed identification with the female sex." By attempting to recover the place of women "from the predominantly masculinist tendency of Conrad criticism," her book encourages the reassessment of Conrad's works in which female characters are central—the Malay novels and the romances of his later career, including Chance, The Arrow of Gold, The Rescue, and Suspense. Her persuasively argued study also invites a reconsideration of these neglected works as well as urges a new appreciation of the continuity and breadth of Conrad's achievement. Jones begins by tracing the history of Conrad...


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pp. 377-381
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