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ELT 44 : 3 2001 repetitive study it is difficult if not impossible to think anymore of Joyce's early masterpiece as a humorless work of high seriousness, an aberration in Joyce's otherwise comic literary trajectory. Gottfried successfully makes the case that "there is comedy in Portrait, far more of it than has been recognized," and "that the comedy more nearly resembles the humor in all of Joyce's other works." Brian W. Shaffer ________________ Rhodes College Virginia Woolf Now Sue Roe and Susan Sellers, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. xxii + 286pp. Cloth $59.95 Paper $19.95 TO SEE WOOLF steadily and see her whole might at some innocent point before the definitive decline of New Criticism have appeared to be a possible and even laudable endeavor. The present volume of twelve essays covers large swathes of Woolf 's career and certain aspects of her life experience but makes no effort to see her or her writings from that Arnoldian, perhaps Olympian, vantage point. It does, nonetheless, with varying degrees of interest and authority, illuminate areas of her work, life, and personal engagements with her time. The organization of The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf'follows the mainly successful formula of the Cambridge Companion series, with chapters covering a wide range of topics, focusing on the work— here the novels, essays, diaries, and letters—and then the contexts for it, including, in this instance, the Bloomsbury Group, language, modernism , post-impressionism, socio-politics, feminism, and psychoanalysis. A brief preface and chronology open the book, and a guide to further reading and index close it. Perhaps predictably given the current position of Woolf in literary studies as, alternately, fomenter, product, darling, and victim of the culture wars so vigorously being fought out in academe and beyond, this is a volume with particular and obvious biases. It also has a decidedly cliquish flavor. Although it includes a couple of contributions from North American critics—and North America rather than England has been the bastion of Woolf studies for some decades now—there is a peculiarly in-group air about the choice of writers here, a number of whom, including Sue Roe, were associated with the Penguin "edition" of Woolf (in fact a cosmetically corrected reprinting of the historical texts) that appeared 394 BOOK REVIEWS during the 1990s under the general editorship of Julia Briggs. This may well account for the erasure of the scholarship of Blackwell's Shakespeare Head Press Edition of Virginia Woolf—the only critical edition —save for the contributions of Susan Dick and Andrew McNeillie, both associated with it. The more outrageous erasure, but of a piece with this, is Laura Marcus's omission, in her essay "Woolf's Feminism and Feminism's Woolf," of the contribution of Joanne Trautmann Banks to the editing of Woolf's letters, solely credited to Nigel Nicholson because it suits Marcus's purpose to assert that Woolf was the victim of a maleist conspiracy whereby her work inevitably suffered by having male hands help to preserve it and her life story. The writer pursues her point by claiming that Anne Olivier Bell, the principal editor of Woolf's diaries, takes on "masculine privilege" as the wife of the late Quentin Bell. (Marcus was apparently unaware of Andrew McNeillie's major contribution to this edition—richer grist for her peculiar mill.) Unless the editors found the sound of a particularly blunt axe at work to be sweet music, it is difficult to comprehend how they let this stand, but there is, after all, music for all tastes. Another signal editorial failure is the "Guide to Further Reading," which repeats much of what is already in the volume's footnotes and gives scant sense of the development of Woolf criticism and scholarship. The seasoned scholar will make his or her way around these deficiencies to find the worthwhile work that this volume certainly contains, but its lopsidedness and lacunae make it impossible to recommend it to the major target of the Cambridge Companion series—the undergraduate needing reliable companionship to Woolf or the field of Woolf studies. The essays are themselves a mixed bag, as most...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 394-396
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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