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BOOK REVIEWS ings—expertly catering to the average reader's attention span. Finally, they have all the melodramatic ingredients that Dickens so instinctively mastered before him—jokes, jingles, explosions, ghosts, town vs. country , youth vs. age, men vs. women, miracles, criminals, violence and Fate. Of course, there are limitations. Ultimately, Saki is no Dickens. His range of interests is too limited; his development is too slight. Many of his stories seem to mirror each other ("The Unrest Cure" / "The Schartz Metterklume Method"); others seem to collapse into each other ("Mark"/ "A Defensive Diamond"). He also seems unwilling or unable to show human beings demonstrating any affection for each other: if characters form alliances, it is due to a family tie or a conspiracy. But here he is, still in print. And if university professors have ignored him, the general public has ignored them back. There is something imperishable in Sir Egbert holding a ten-minute conversation with his wife, without realizing that she is dead. There is something unforgettable in Groby Lington finally turning into his pet tortoise or Gabriel Ernest admitting that his favourite meal is "flesh!" So it is only to be hoped that this new collection will encourage academia to get the joke. In the meantime, it is the Saki reader who enjoys the last laugh. Adam Frost _____________________ University of Cambridge T. E. Lawrence: Twayne Revised Stephen Ely Tabachnick. T. E. Lawrence Revised. New York: Twayne, 1997. xvi + 171 pp. $28.95 ITS TITULAR ADJECTIVE indicates the origins of this present study (number 543 in Twayne's enduring English Authors Series) in Stephen Tabachnick's earlier Twayne volume on T. E. Lawrence. It shares with that original book an assumption productive of an unusual focus in books on Lawrence. In Tabachnick's own words, "it subjects Seven Pillars of Wisdom and The Mint to a formal literary rather than biographical analysis and shifts the emphasis from Lawrence's life to his books and how he appears in them as a character." While this is a perfectly defensible approach, and a very necessary one if T. E. Lawrence is to have a plausible niche in the Twayne series, it inevitably presents certain difficulties, difficulties whose conceptual ramifications Professor Tabachnick does not always acknowledge as fully as he might. But in the specifics of its engagement with Lawrence and his work, this book shows an enthusiasm and attention to detail that make it a valuable contribu449 ELT 42 : 4 1999 tion to scholarship on arguably the most enigmatic and elusive writer to be included in the Twayne roll-call. To begin with the problems, which at core are probably not of Tabachnick 's making. Lawrence's literary status rests on just two books, Seven Pillars of Wisdom and The Mint, neither of which is to be found with any regularity in university literature courses, neither of which receives much critical (or even historical) attention as a central modern text, and both of which have equivocal generic status even in a critical climate long since attuned to think in terms of generic instability. The last point is particularly problematic in its relationship to Lawrence's reputation as a significant modern writer, and generates the most troubling lacunae in the task of literary recovery that Tabachnick has set himself. On the one hand he asserts that "Seven Pillars should regularly be considered in courses on modern British literature as well as in those on the literature of British imperialism or postcolonialism." On the other, he claims "that Lawrence's books must be assessed as autobiographies rather than as fictions or histories." While it may be the case that Lawrence 's work should be taught "because he writes and illuminates important problems of life, art, and politics as well as Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, and E. M. Forster do," he does so in works more fundamentally shaped by the twinned but conflicting autobiographical imperatives of self-illumination and self-concealment. What kinds of problems, theoretical and practical, does this raise? How does one relate Seven Pillars of Wisdom, at a level beyond that of surface situation ("a modern outsider in an alien and primitive environment"), to unequivocally fictional works, such as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 449-452
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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