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BOOK REVIEWS thetic dislocations, symbolic equivalents, and experiments in three dimensional reality and solidity. The liminal experience, according to Smith, requires a structure that accommodates uncertainties, avoids closure, and accepts inconclusiveness. In their search for method, Woolf and Mansfield adapt post-impressionist methodology to depict lived experience . In this chapter Smith is most convincing in the importance of their relationship, not stretching the known but relying on it to make her case. In both Mrs. Dalloway and "At the Bay," "the layers of paint occlude and occasionally reveal, and the texture of the prose always gestures towards psychic as well as physical landscapes." In her last analytical chapter, Smith moves from the tableaux to the cinematic. "Vertigo in 'The Daughters of the Late Colonel' and Jacob's Room" uncover the way narrative voices encode experiences of liminality and express "boundaries and overcrossings." In the narrations, Smith finds a female gaze in the texts, one which sees more and makes connections the characters themselves cannot. Relying on Sergei Eisenstein 's theory of "montage" to make her case, Smith sees Woolf and Mansfield as engaged in early film impressionism and her assumption guides a sharp analysis. Smith hypothesizes that the method and the themes relate to the two women's illnesses, their "tenuous place in a male world of letters," and their precarious relationships with family, particularly the men in the family. "The powerlessness and insignificance of the woman, and her inability to storm the male fortress, comment obliquely on the chorus of female voices" used by Woolf and Mansfield. Their "blurring an apparently tidy surface" hints at their shared sensibility, and their knowing gazes at the world. Smith ends her book with three pages emphasizing the liminal, the shared communitas of the two modernists, the linkage to Kristeva's theory of the "foreigner" within. Smith notes the "affinity which binds" Mansfield and Woolf "into a public of two," and she lets the analyses stand on their own as evidence of like minds, a shared but different experience . This kind of subtlety commends her and matches the nuanced sophistication of her readings. Deborah Martinson ______________ Occidental College West's Novels Ann V. Norton. Paradoxical Feminism: The Novels of Rebecca West. Lanham : International Scholars Publications, 2000. viii + 165 pp. $42.00 209 ELT 45 : 2 2002 REBECCA WEST (1892-1983) was both long-lived and industrious , producing a large corpus of literary criticism, book reviews, essays, travel and political writing, as well as fiction. Her nine published novels, three of them comprising the unfinished Cousin Rosamund trilogy, form as substantial a body of work as that of many writers who devote their efforts to novels exclusively. A handful of respectable monographs survey West's entire production, often with some discussion of the fiction, but Ann Norton's Paradoxical Feminism is the first thematic, booklength study to concentrate on the novels. While West has achieved substantial attention from feminist critics, including many well-focussed journal essays, Norton's sustained analysis of her fiction and her feminism is a welcome and much-needed addition to West criticism. A teenage suffragette in the first decade of the twentieth century, proclaimed the world's foremost woman writer by Time magazine in 1947, West has nevertheless been caught in an ideological double bind: an early feminist activist, she is judged problematically feminist by current standards. Thus, while she is often anthologized, West has achieved neither a place in the traditional literary canon nor in the new feminist canon equal to modernist contemporaries such as Virginia Woolf. Norton succinctly traces the history of West's reception and explores the contradictions in her feminism to explain the ambivalence with which she is regarded by recent feminist critics. Norton emphasizes that although West became more conservative as she aged, especially regarding Communism, she never opposed women's rights. Tracing West's paradoxical feminism back to her family of origin, comprised of a talented but irresponsible father (who ultimately deserted his family) and an artistically gifted mother overburdened with responsibilities, Norton believes West came to see her parents' gender roles as "representative" and an example of the "violation of promises men make to women." As a result, West overvalues strong males and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 209-213
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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