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BOOK REVIEWS social, and institutional influences—of the knowledge and competence needed to appreciate works of art and other cultural artifacts. Cultural capital is to be distinguished from formal training or scholarly erudition ; it bears in fact on the natural taste that Fry claims to be based in a specifically aesthetic receptiveness. For Bourdieu, such taste, like the idea of the autonomous art object, is a mystification. When Fry in "Retrospect" sought to explain the opposition of those attending the post-impressionist exhibitions, he proposed that they were threatened by the loss of social assets founded on a knowledge of (say) the Italian primitives and not on taste. "To admire a Matisse," on the other hand, "required only a certain sensibility," and "one's maid" might possess that. Like Virginia Woolfs occasional references to servants in her essays, Fry's phrase strikes an offensive chord today. Fry's aim is to attack the plutocrats and to democratize art appreciation. But we know from other sources what a low opinion he had of "the herd's" barbarous tastes, and we may well doubt whether Fry's taste in the end was as disinterested as he thought it was. All tastes, in Bourdieu's view, assert the legitimacy of one way of living at the expense of others, and the aesthetic disposition that brackets off practical ends requires a world freed from urgency such as Bloomsbury provided. Goodwin's collection and commentary do justice to "a remarkable polymath with an insatiable curiosity ," but some indication of the vulnerabilities of Fry's ideology of pure art and natural taste would have strengthened rather than weakened the case he makes for Fry's continuing relevance to the role of art in a capitalist world. Alistair M. Duckworth University of Florida, Gainesville Woolfs Orlando Virginia Woolf. Orlando: A Biography. J. H. Stape, ed. Oxford: The Shakespeare Head Press, Blackwell Publishers, 1998. 240 pp. $39.95 ORLANDO, Virginia Woolfs jeu d'esprit, was the author's "breakthrough" book when it appeared in 1928, winning for her both the popular audience and the commercial success that had not been accorded her previous novels, including Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse . Written in a near-frenzy of inspiration between October of 1927 and March 1928, it was an instant success with both the critics and the public. Among the few dissenters at the time were the younger generation of writers, typified by Elizabeth Bowen, who admits in her 89 ELT 43 : 1 2000 "Afterword" for the 1960 Signet Classic edition that she and her contemporaries regarded the book as something of a setback for the modernism they championed. The form of Orlando helps to explain these apparently contradictory reactions. Following (and parodying) a conventional biography, the book is more coherent as narrative, less "difficult" than Woolf's previous novels . Readers confused by the "stream of consciousness" techniques of Mrs. Dalloway and 7b the Lighthouse were reassured by Orlando's clear story-line. Conversely, the book's wry satire on conventional biography and its playfully serious treatment of sexual identity, character, literary and political history, fantasy and reality, time and change, place it squarely at the center of modernism's preoccupations. Beneath all of this, of course, is the book's homage to its inspiration, Woolf's friend and (briefly) lover, Vita Sackville-West. More than any of her other novels, Orlando offers something accessible and entertaining, yet challenging, to a wide variety of readers. It is no secret that we are in the midst of a Virginia Woolf "boom": the annual MLA bibliography for 1970 listed only 17 entries on Woolf. By 1980 the number had increased to 62, and the 1997 volume lists 116—23 of them on Orlando. Paralleling the rise of scholarship and criticism has been a spate of new editions of Woolf's major work. Both Penguin and Oxford University Press have issued new editions of the novels, including Orlando. J. H. Stape's is thus the third re-editing of the novel since 1992 and the latest production in the Shakespeare Head Press's series that aims to present all of Virginia Woolf's major works except the short stories, essays, letters, and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 89-93
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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