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Book Reviews Innes applies a colonial theorist's perspective to Ireland's struggle for nationhood—a perspective long overdue in literary studies of Ireland, as Irish literature has all too often either been simply collapsed into "British Literature" generally, or read in isolation without reference to the diatopic nature of the colonial discourse. Innes's first few chapters provide this much-needed frame, and remind us of the cultural genocide that these writers were responding to: for example, between the effects of a national school system whose goal was to make every Irish child a ""happy English child'" and the famine, the proportion of Irish people who were able to speak Irish was more than halved in a six year period. My principal criticism of this book is simply that it should have been a larger one. As Innes admits in the introduction, "I had planned to include chapters on Somerville and Ross, and on Mary Lavin, to refer in some detail to writers such as Kate O'Brien, Sarah Grand and George Egerton, but the space allotted me did not allow for this." Unfortunately, the brevity of the text conspires with the necessity to begin with familiar canonical male writers to reproduce exactly that dynamic which Innes is attempting to expose and critique—the women in the text are subordinated to the well-known male writers, both in terms of the structure of the text and in terms of the space allotted to them. This problem is exemplified in the titling of the final chapter on Elizabeth Bowen: "Custom, Ceremony and Innocence: Elizabeth Bowen's The Last September ," wherein Bowen and her novel are contextualized by and subordinated to Yeats's poem. Additionally, the compact format of a book rich in historical scholarship disallows much background or context for those not immediately familiar with Irish history in this period. Given the fact that the book appeals to scholars interested in Victorian and Modernist literature, women's history and the history of colonialism as well as those interested specifically in Irish nationalism —in short, that the book has a potentially broad-based readership— Innes seems to limit her audience unnecessarily. However, overall, readers will find Woman and Nation is worth the minor annoyance of occasionally having recourse to supplemental texts for historical detail. Pamela K. Gilbert University of Wisconsin, Parkside Women's History Geneviève Fraisse and Michelle Perrot, eds. A History of Women in the West, Volume TV: Emerging Feminism from Revolution to World War. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993. χ+ 640 pp. $29.95 235 ELT 38:2 1995 WHILE READING through this sizable volume's nineteen essays (most of which are translations prepared for this English edition oîStoria délie donne in Occidente: IV, L'Ottocento, 1991), I kept trying to determine the imagined audience for the work, with its expansive generalizations and geographical and temporal sweeps through women's history. Most of the essays possess a kind of "handbook" quality. What these present are not so much original arguments as they are well-documented overviews of selected large topics (The Woman Worker," The French Revolution as THurning Point," The Catholic Model"). These topics in turn are broken down into many subheadings, some comprising only a few paragraphs of discussion each. The volume's comparativist historical surveys focus primarily on Continental European history. Except for a couple of pieces in the "Modernities" section, each essay typically ranges broadly across the period from the French Revolution to the early decades of the twentieth century. These are larger contexts than I generally encounter in my academic, "specialist's" reading in women's literature and history of late-nineteenth century England, and, to be sure, the specific information about European women's lives and works broadened the contours of my understanding of women in nineteenth-century Europe and America. At the same time, A History of Women in the West is flawed, and I was troubled by several essays' large generalities and their simplified analyses of the "symbols, images, and discourses" (5) that the volume takes for its historical subject and field of analysis. Despite reservations about recommending the entire volume for its historical surveys or its discourse analyses, which...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 235-237
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Ceasing Publication
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