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Book Reviews Roger Fry ARoger Fry Reader. Christopher Reed, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. xii + 440pp. Cloth $50.00 Paper $19.95 UNLIKE HIS GREAT predecessor Ruskin, Roger Fry inspired no Cook and Wedderburn to produce a scholarly edition of his collected works. Partly this is explained by the occasional mode of his publication. Donald Laing in his bibliography (1979) lists almost 900 contributions by Fry to periodicals and newspapers while noting the existence of a large corpus of as yet uncatalogued manuscripts in the archives at King's College, Cambridge. Apart from his monograph on Giovanni Bellini (1899) and his edition of Reynolds's Discourses (1905), Fry published no books until the 1920s. Vision and Design, a collection of previously published essays, appeared in 1920. Transformations, another collection , appeared in 1926. His Cézanne appeared in 1927, Henri Matisse in 1930. Surveys of Flemish, French, and British art appeared in, respectively , 1927, 1932, and 1934. Following his death in 1934, the lectures Fry gave as Slade Professor at Cambridge were edited by Kenneth Clark (Last Lectures, 1939). These books remain accessible in libraries, and recent reprints testify to a continuing interest in Fry. In 1989 the University of Chicago Press published Cézanne, with a sympathetic introductory essay by Richard Shiff, and in 1995 Ursus Press brought out Giovanni Bellini, with an introduction by David Alan Brown and an afterword by Hilton Kramer. Christopher Reed's A Roger Fry Reader, however, is the first book since Fry's own collections in the 1920s to offer a selection of Fry's articles, reviews, letters, pamphlets, and manifestoes. Deliberately, Reed includes nothing from Fry's books. Of the fifty-seven pieces only two have not been published previously: "The Philosophy of Impressionism" (1894) and "Expression and Representation in the Graphic Arts" (1908). Two others were posthumously published in Apollo: "Rembrandt: An Interpretation" (1962) and "The Double Nature of Painting" (1969). Other pieces include articles from the Burlington Magazine, the Athenaeum , and the Nation; catalogues, essays and prefaces accompanying the Post-Impressionist Exhibitions of 1910 and 1912 and the Omega Workshops; polemical pamphlets such as "Architectural Heresies of a 448 BOOK REVIEWS Painter" (1921) and "The Artist and Psycho-analysis" (1924); and BBC broadcasts published in the Listener. Reed divides the articles into seven sections, each with an introduction . Taken together, his introductions add up to more than a hundred pages of art-historical commentary. He resists the temptation to indulge in Bloomsbury gossip, doubtless assuming that readers may go to Frances Spalding's biography (1980) for details of the life. Occasionally, however, a little more in the way of biographical context seems required. Reed has little interest in recalling the extraordinarily casual way in which the first Post-Impressionist Exhibition in 1910 came about, and while he notes that the catalogue to the exhibition was "written by the exhibition's secretary following Fry's scribbled notes," he does not identify the secretary or pause over the question of the authorship. Desmond MacCarthy^s entertaining memoir (reprinted in S. P. Rosenbaum's The Bloomsbury Group, revised edition, 1995) establishes that he was the exhibition's secretary and suggests that he played a rather larger authorial role than Reed allows. "This work of mine," MacCarthy calls it, admitting to receiving "a few notes" from Fry, but claiming for himself the much derided aesthetic preference for a rocking horse over a snapshot of the Derby winner (Rosenbaum, 76). I. A. Richards is a more important name omitted from Reed's discussions. As a young Cambridge don who denied the distinction between aesthetic and ordinary responses , Richards posed a challenge to Fry's formalism, and his Principles of Literary Criticism (1924) was at least as important as Freud's work in inspiring Fry to defend and reconceive his Kantian assumptions. These omissions are trivial in an anthology that makes us freshly aware of the brilliance of Fry's criticism and provides us with a stirring defense of his legacy. The selections amply reveal Fry's virtues: his assured command of art history (evident as early as his 1894 "The Philosophy of Impressionism"); the sweet reasonableness of his advocacy (not only of Cézanne...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 448-452
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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