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ELT 43 : 1 2000 Bluemel insists that readers are "destined to keep questioning as long as Miriam keeps questing," but Bluemel cannot resist assertively rebutting other critics' questions and answers about Miriam's long journey . In her fourth and final chapter "The Quest for an Ending," Bluemel revisits critics' explanations of the ending οι March Moonlight, the last volume of Pilgrimage. In a section of this chapter entitled "Critical Complaints ," she disagrees with Gloria Fromm's assessment that March Moonlight is "thin and hurried," chastises Gillian Hascombe for overlooking "certain pieces of narrative ... which [she] neglects to analyze," calls Rachel DuPlessis's assessment "misreading," and so on. Bluemel counters these critics by reiterating that "the last paragraph of March Moonlight insists that the quest is still ongoing." She then offers a complex , theoretically intriguing but rather far-fetched thesis that "requires a redefinition of the beginnings, middles, and ends of the text," offering a reading of the ending that includes in its middles and ends "all of [Richardson 's] oeuvre as an artistic pilgrimage." What follows is much analysis of Richardson's journalism in a section entitled "The Dental Borderlands," and short fiction under the subtitle "Short Deaths." Bluemel says at one point that Pilgrimage itself is a ceaseless "quest for a haven in and through writing," and that the end may lie "within the teeming details of the text." Readers of Bluemel's book may begin to feel their own ceaseless search for an ending to the words. When they turn the page to an "Afterword," an analysis of Richardson's last letter, they may fear that end is a middle, too. Whether Bluemel mimes Richardson 's own method purposely and rhetorically or merely gets caught up in it remains unclear. Despite the difficulties Richardson presents to readers of modernism and feminism, Bluemel's ambitious project is rich and provocative. Experimenting on the Borders of Modernism breaks new ground on Richardson's Pilgrimage and provides new ways of looking at modernist women's texts which seek to subvert and reinscribe conventional narrative . Deborah Martinson __________________ Occidental College Modernist Productions Douglas Mao. Solid Objects: Modernism and the Test of Production. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998. xii + 308 pp. $45.00 100 BOOK REVIEWS GREEN GLASS, blue china, and pink parasols; trees, cabbages, and apricots—Douglas Mao's book is replete with solid objects such as these which claimed attention of the writers he studies: Virginia Woolf, Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, and Wallace Stevens. These modernists differ from their predecessors in that they treat the object as a material thing. As far as it is possible in a literary work, modernist objects represent nothing, neither their exchange value nor some abstract ideal, but are simply there in their stubborn substantiality, their "massive positivity ." They cast their spell on characters (such as John in Woolf's 1920 story, "Solid Objects") and authors alike but it is not the "phony spell of a commodity," to borrow a phrase from Walter Benjamin. Of Benjamin, Mao writes: "no writer has articulated the claim of the object on the modern subject with greater precision and candor." And perhaps no critic before Douglas Mao has presented as intense a scrutiny of the place of the object in modernist writing and of the "modernist production imperative " that responds to the turn-of-the-century suspicion toward leisured consumption. Mao traces modernists' efforts to steer a course between Oscar Wilde's resistance to measuring art by "the vulgar test of production" and Theodor Adorno's equation of artistic production with the destruction of the material world; between the capitalist production imperative, with its exploitation and mastery of the object world (and other worlds), and aestheticism's l'art pour l'art, which relinquishes any ambition to act upon the world. "In resuscitating the production ethic that aestheticism abandoned," Mao writes, "modernism also gave life to new crises of purpose—and generated new reasons to turn for resolution to the object world." The making of modernism, Mao asserts, had everything to do with questions about the production of objects in the age of mass production . Recent studies of modernist writers have sought to challenge, or at least to make more complex...


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