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69 the appendices of Gettmann's bock are by Wells, whereas the 3 items in the appendices of Wilson's book are by uennett, One generalization can be made about both books: There is relatively little by Wells, not enough in each individual book to give a really solid portrait of a period in Wells' career, or of the complexity of his mind and interests, the same comment would apply to Bennett in the one book and to Gissing in the other, However, one very considerable difference, for which the editors are responsible, makes the one book a decidedly more useful., rich, and revealing one than the other. Gettmann fills many gaps in his notes. It may not be important to report (p.42) that "Here Wells drew a dot enclosed in a circle," but this commendable thoroughness and scholarly care also extends to more important matters,- Gettmann's notes do more than merely identify a few names; in effect, they provide a context for the letters. Mr, Gettmann's introduction is a detailed discussion of the similarities and differences between the backgrounds and temperaments of the two writers. As to the letters themselves, it cannot be said that Bennett, Gissing, or Wells was a great letter writer in the sense of writing personal letters that are recognized as literature upon their publication. Of the three, I think Wells probably wrote the most entertaining letters; Bennett comes second; and Gissing, because of some stiffness and a rather self-conscious earnestness, comes third. Gissing seems to be driven by the need to explain; he seems more often to be on the defensive. Some readers may even feel that when V/ells writes to Gissing he writes more guardedly, more seriously, and with less ease. Two sentences from Letter No. 13 (p.52), from Gissing to V/ells, Is suggestive: "My Dear VJeMs, You are a facetious man and on first reading your letter this morning I felt a doubt whether I was to take you literally. I think, however, that you really mean what you say, and I reply with all gravity." It is perhaps significant that Gissing, by his own admission (p.49), "hitherto had but one serious correspondent (old Bertz) ." 3ennett and WeMs had many. Upon reading the Bennett-WelIs-Gissing letters, one may be tempted to arrive at a simple formula: Of the three, V/ells is the most diverse writer, Bennett the greatest novel ist, and Gissing the greatest artist. Somewhat ironically it seems likely that this is also the order in which they will be ranked and remembered in future years, — H. E. G. 2. THE GOLDEN KEY: A STUDY OF THE FICTION OF GEORGE MACDONALD. By Robert Lee Wolff. New Haven: Yale University Press. $6.00, The only novel of any importance written by George MacDonald in the Eighteen Nineties was LILITH (1895), an enigmatic Blakeian dream romance. During the Eighties most of MacDonald's novels were commonplace with the exception of THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE (1833). MacDonald had done his best work during earlier decades in his fantasies PHANTASTES (1858) and THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN (1872), 70 Robert Lee Wolff states that his "study deals primarily with MacOonald's fiction," and his chief concern is a Freudian analysis of MacDonald1s novels. "Of George MacDonald we know that all his life he preserved the record of his weaning as his most precious and secret possession," says WoIff. "He longed for a mother, and repressed the longing, He felt rebellion against his father, whom he also loved dearly, and this gave him deep feelings of guilt,,., He rebelled against the determinism of Calvinist theology, but he was a 'stickit' minister, whose efforts in the priesthood had failed." Using these basic motifs, plus MacDonald's rejection by an áristocratic girl in an early love affair, Wolff convincingly demonstrates that certain images, symbols and ideas are repeated over and over by MacDonald, The all-knowing mother figure appears both in MacDonald's fantasies and in his novels of Scotch and English life; the image of the girl who rejected MacDonald in a library is frequent; devotion to father recurs constantly , sometimes with curious twists and reversals. But...


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pp. 69-71
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Will Be Archived 2021
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