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BOOK REVIEWS ing French feminism, Lacan, Foucault, Bakhtin, and cultural studies (along with the requisite apology for not including any "women of color"). Given the limitations of space, these summaries tend to be general and reductive, particularly her single definition of modernism, quoted from Bradbury's and McFarlane's 1976 Modernism. Still, they do implicitly promise a kind of theoretical thinking about and interpretation of the research that never materializes in the book. Beyond the introductory and concluding chapters, none of these theories is ever mentioned much less applied, a lapse that is especially disappointing as one reads through the history and recognizes how the author might have used the theory she summarizes to fascinating effect. In fact, one of the more disturbing aspects of Women Editing Modernism is the author's reluctance throughout the book to offer any of her own analysis about the importance of her subjects' contributions to the modernist concept. This, I think, points again to the root problem with the text. With theory "taken care of and "out of the way" in the introduction, the book proceeds essentially without argument, without analysis, and without directly demonstrating a convincing case, though one might certainly be inferred, that "women editing modernism" vitally affected the concept of modernism in a uniquely significant way. Marek has given us an extremely interesting and informative history of seven modernist women editors and the "little magazines" they created. Were it not for the title and the theoretical trajectory of the introduction, this would have been enough. Joan Douglas Peters University of Hawaii at Manoa The New Girl Sally Mitchell. The New Girl: Girls'Culture in England, 1880-1915. New York and Chichester: Columbia University Press, 1995. ix + 258pp. Paper $19.95 £13.95 THE NEW GIRL is a celebration of the fiction written specifically for girls in Britain when "the word girl became dramatically visible" in the title of books, between the 1880s and the early 1920s (6). As such Sally Mitchell follows the example of literary journalists like Mary Cadogan and Patricia Craig in Women and Children First: The Fiction of Two World Wars (1978) and You're a Brick, Angela!: A New Look at Girls'Fiction from 1839-1975 (1976) by providing the reader with potted narratives, a brisk trip across the historical terrain of various genres, and the excuse for a vicarious wallow in the lush emotions encouraged 217 ELT 40:2 1997 at an earlier time. However, Professor Mitchell's study is published by a university press and the reader is entitled to expect rather more than the Merchant-Ivory nostalgia which seems to mellow American perceptions of the British past. In fact the work is subtitled "Girls' Culture in England, 1880-1915" and the gushing style conceals a thesis about the historic period before "the sexualising and consequent regendering" of young women (182) which created our modern notions of adolescence. Mitchell looks back to a time of (lost) sexual innocence, of non-erotic androgyny, before romance became the core of young women's lives and "the free space in which they had room for other imaginings diminished" (188). She identifies girlhood, the period between childhood and (sexual) adulthood , as that "provisional free space" which the girls' culture "evident in books, magazines, clothing-styles, clubs, sports, schools and memoirs" authorised with the emotional and imaginative power to transform women's nature by nurturing girls' inner selves. Out of this culture she has chosen the fiction in cheap and popular books and magazines to analyse. As she says, she based this choice on two assumptions: first, that "successful mass fiction must speak to the readers who choose to consume it," and second, that readers in their teens "choose books that meet their psychological needs and provide emotional satisfaction" (4-5). Her interest is not in the values that adult authors wrote into the books, but in "how girls themselves may have seen their world" (6), the effects of their reading on girls' personal horizons. Granted that Mitchell has thus set herself a difficult—if not impossible —task in a complex field of investigation, she nevertheless loses sight of it almost at once. Out of a very loosely defined notion...


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pp. 217-221
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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Will Be Archived 2021
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