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57 (3) Most tantalizing of all, no file of the WEEKLY REVIEW, which Davidson subedited (with contributions from V/. D. Yeats among others) in the months just after his arrival in London, has yet been found. [Mr,, Townsend's date of I89I for this periodical (p, 139) is certainly in error, as indicated for example in the h'eadnote to MiSS ARMSTRONG'S AND OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES (I896), a significant work which, curiously enough, is not once referred to in Mr. Townsend's many pages,] For any such largely concei/ed study of the 1890's as Mr. Townsend has undertaken in JOHN DAVIDSON, the setting is complex, the enveloping cultural context still to a large extent unenarted, Mr, Townsend has brought to his task a range of reference - in !iterature, music, and the visual arts - which is most impressive; he has brought it to bear at the point where studies of Davidson have been most lacking, ¡le has made of Davidson, the "man apart" who closed his life declaiming "Nobody seems to understand anything at al1 about anything" (p. 426), a man alive, responding richly and sensitively to the doubts, moods, and stresses of the end of an age; a man steeped in the English literary tradition, struggling to transform that tradition from what he saw as its past fact itiousness to a vital relevance, and to prophecy of a new age. If I may indulge in a bit of prophecy myself, time will show that there is room for only one full-length biography and critical study of John Davidson. If this be so, it wi!! be a continuing gratification to scholars in the future that this work of Mr, Townsend:s has been notably well done. Swarthmore John A. Lester, Jr. Vf Vf Vf Vf * Vf Vf * Vf Wayne C, booth. THE RHETORIC OF FICTION, Chicago: The University of Chicago P, I96I, $6,95. For over twenty-five years students of literature have been living in the Age of Criticism, This period has experienced the revaluation and, to some extent, the redefinition of the Romantic Period and the Victorian Period; it has been an age of endless explications of, first, individual poems, secondly, individual short stories, and, more recently, individual novels; it has also been an age of the study of techniques in fiction. Among many books and articles by such widely different writers as Erich Auerbach, Cleanth Brooks, Ronald S. Crane, Norman Friedman, Northrop Frye, F. R. Leavis, Simon Lesser, A. C. Lovejoy, Richard McKeon, ¡an Watt, René V/ellek, M. D. Zabel, and many more, there have been highly influential, genuinely important works. A very large bulk of the bulky commentary, however, has been a game of follow-the-leader. Very few works Stand out as really original. Professor Wayne Booth's THE RHETORIC OF FICTION is one of the rare books. It Is not only original but it does more than make an assay into the subject, for it has been thoroughly prepared over the years, apparently starting with his 1950 doctoral thesis on TRISTRAM SHANDY. It is not mere probing. It is a deeply searching and thoroughly researched book. Its nearly 400 pages of text are supported by approximately 36 pages of bibliography and by a moderate number of intelligently pertinent footnotes. 58 The thesis of the book mo^t baldly put is the defense, "on aesthetic grounds, for an art full of rnctorica-1 appeals" even in its least didactic examples. Professor 3ooth does not evade the more subtle problems by dealing only with works which use "overt, distinguishable rhetoric" (authorial intrusions); he also accepts the difficult challenge offered by writers like Henry James, who uses "disguised rhetoric." Essentially, then, this book deals with what was once over-simplified by such labels as point of view or angle of narration, but Professor Booth's book does not cut out of the underbrush of technique such a simple, straight path as Percy Lubbock did in his historically important THE CRAFT OF FICTION (1921). Booth has a thesis to prove but the reader feels that the. opposition receives a fair hearing,, In fact. Booth takes great pains to represent honestly the arguments against his own...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 57-59
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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