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Vl. in lucid, direct, purposive critical essays on majop work by major writers of the past as well as ones on 20th century figures." EFT readers, I think, might be interested in "The English Island Myth" by Richard Gerber (no relative of the editor of EFT) and Bernard Bergonzi's "Chesterton and/or Belloc," a reviewarticle based on Penguin reprints of essays and poems by these two writers. The first two issuea seem very fine to me, sore lucid and less verbose than the material in ESSaYS IN CRITICISM, for example, less middle-brow than LONDON MaGaZINE, yet often provocative and acute. The first issues have a nice balance in the variety of material. 3. The Collins Classics in America: W.W. Norton Co. now is the American agent for the old (I believe chiefly edited in the 1920s), inexpensive, hardbound Collins Classics series. The list is especially rich in 19th-century titles. Of interest to EFT readers will be titles'by Butler (l), Hardy (2), Hudson (l), Stevenson (8), and Wells (3). Average price per volume: $1.25· REVIEW James Hall. aRNOLD BENNETT: PREÕ ITIVISM aND TaSTE. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1959. $4.00. This is Mr. Hall's 1949 Cornell thesis, portions of which have been moderately revised but the essential thesis of which appears here unchanged. This was a very good dissertation ten years ago, more readable than most, and it makes an interesting, stimulating, worthwhile book. The thesis of the book is that in the many of his novels Bennett mediates between (l) the primitive, dramatized in form of the bourgeois, "middle-class vitality," and (2) taste, dramatized in the form of persons possessing "intellect," "sophistication," culture, and sometimes those who are artists, usually outsiders. Bennett, according to Hall, is at his best when he attains the closest balance of sympathies for the two opposed ways of life, when, in fact, Bennett, and often his mediating character, is most ambivalent. Mr. Hall gives close analyses of "The Death of Simon Fuge," aNNa OF THE FIVE T0VÕ NS, LEONORa, SaCRED .JJD PROFaNE LOVE; particularly long analyses of THE OLD ViIVES1 TaLE and the Clayhanger trilogy; somewhat less sympathetic but still close analyses of RICEYl^iJ STEPS and LORD RaINGO. In the light of his thesis, Mr. Hall finds that CLaYHaNGER is Bennett's best work and that his later novels are not successful because they do not have the dramatic ambivalence of the earlier ones, they are "insufficiently ambiguous," they lack "esthetic distance," and because Bennett personally "identifies himself with the supereard." Hall is rather impatient with previous Bennett criticism, although it is true that most of it would not have had much effect on his own thesis. Still, Mr. Hall might have done better to consult Hepburn's 1957 thesis, which opposes Hall's 1949 thesis on several crucial points, than Tressider's 1935 thesis. Since there have been some suggestions (Hepburn in particular makes a point of this) that, as Hepburn puts it, Bennett's later works, "in complexity of metaphor, imagery, and theme,,.,are generally more impressive than his earlier," Hall might have taken the books of the last thirteen years under more serious scrutiny in a thorough revision of his earlier thesis. But these later books his thesis does not permit him to regard very highly. Perhaps the answer is that the earlier books are impressive on certain specific grounds whereas the later books are impressive on somewhat different grounds. Further, beyond such matters as these, there is some evidence that Bennett's commercial motives have little connection with the quality of his writing, that the portraits of the "supercards" may have Vil, been intended as satires, that the apparently optimistic endings may have overtones of irony. While I find Hall's close analyses of "The Death of Simon Fuge," THE OLD WIVES' T/JJL, and the Clayhanger trilogy especially interesting, provocative , and often acute, I regret Hall's too easy dismissal of the later books as of no great esthetic interest or worth. Hall's selected bibliography of writings about Bennett contains most of the important works but might be supplemented with the continuing lists which have been published in EFT...

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Additional Information

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