In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

ELT 48 : 3 2005 painting as an aesthetic artifact somehow escapes the exigencies of consumer culture through virtue of the privacy of its production. Fittingly, then, the concluding chapter ends with a compelling visual reproduction of Arnold Bennett's prescribed literary shopping list: books worth reading and the price of each one; it is a fine image to encapsulate Latham's argument that aesthetic or intellectual distinction (the cultural capital of the "snob") is inextricably connected to financial concerns . Consequently, he suggests, for both writers and readers, critics and teachers, "the pleasures we derive from literature are inextricably entangled in the profit-driven pursuit of economic and symbolic capital." His own book, at $19.95 in paperback, is very much worth purchasing for our own literary edification. The writing is tight, provocative, and lucid. The book delights readers with both its narrative and its theoretical application of Pierre Bourdieu. It brings to light new approaches to canonical "snobs" Wilde, Woolf, and Joyce; it compels us to read Sayers. But most of all, "Am I a Snob ?" overturns our own literary preconceptions, as Sean Latham argues convincingly that the presence of the snob reveals a staged disinterestedness, "threatening to expose modernist hauteur as just another commodity." ALYSSA J. O'BRIEN __________________ Stanford University Producing the Modernist Self Morag Shiach. Modernism, Labour and Selfhood in British Literature and Culture, 1890-1930. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. χ + 291 pp. $65.00 ALTHOUGH THERE IS hardly anything new about considering modernist texts in terms of the labor politics of a time period where labor itself changes dramatically and becomes modern, Shiach's study makes a key contribution to this field by defining the contours of a richly complex and ambivalent modernist relationship to labor. Rather than interpreting modernist labor as totally self-negating or self-creating, Shiach instead deftly moves between these two totalizing extremes and examines modernist conceptions and experiences of labor in terms of both the alienation and the production of the self. Indeed, as the author argues throughout the book, the very idea of the modern is inextricably bound up in the connections between labor and selfhood. With the self both lost and created in the experience of labor, the shifts in the division of labor through ideas and techniques like Taylorism become central to understanding the modernist literature and culture. 352 BOOK REVIEWS Shiach's interest in the oscillation between positive and negative experiences of labor enables her to read this movement as a culturally pervasive pattern rather than a series of individual responses without losing the uniqueness of each text's response. She finds in each text the "effort to articulate the relations between labour and selfhood, expressed in ideas of fulfillment, absorption, vitality, and will, species being and agency." Thus modernist responses consistently imagine the sense of self in terms of labor, though the nature of the relationship differs across the culture and literature. Though 1890-1930 may seem like an odd time span for a study of modernism and labor, Shiach has chosen these years because they encompass particular labor events and trends that are vital to understanding modernist labor practices and how they relate to selfhood. As Shiach argues, this period of time is transitional between nineteenth -century labor practices and what would become modern methods of production in the 1930s. In these years, labor is being produced as distinctly modern. Work became increasingly regular as opposed to seasonal , and hourly wage earnings started to take up a much more significant portion of a family's income. During this time, as many other scholars have noted, Taylorism and its efficiency studies become a widely accepted way of breaking down the production process and streamlining it. Although this method of production is usually seen as alienating the worker from her or his labor, Shiach complicates this assertion by pointing out that the actual implementation of Taylorism in British factories was far more spotty than the acceptance of the ideas. Workers themselves often resisted the change unless they were offered wage incentives. Thus during the early years of Taylorism that this book covers, these methods were a site of contestation rather than pure alienation . Another important component...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 352-356
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.