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232 REVIEWS 1. Doubles and Divided Selves Masao Miyoshi. The Divided Selfι A Perspective on the Literature of the Victorians. New York: N. Y. U. Press, 19^9". £8.00. Robert Rogers. A Psychoanalytic Study of the Double in Literature. Detroit« Wayne State University Press, 1970. $7.95· In the past twenty-five years scholars and critics have increased our awareness of the intense inner conflict endured by numerous Victorian writers, but until the publication of Masao Miyoshi·s comprehensive and admirably written work we had no book-length study of the experience of the divided self in the period. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Miyoshi·s book is the breadth and pertinence of the perspective he establishes on the Victorians. He uses the term "divided self" in a sense general enough to apply not only to literature explicitly about inner division, such as Doppelg änger fiction and debate poems, but to works in which, though no double or inner debate occurs, some kind of severe antithesis is expressed. His use of the term also enables him to move easily among various genres. Moreover, his discussions of individual works demonstrate that among Victorian writers inner division was not an exclusively psychological experience, but one inextricably linked to such cultural concerns as the question of God's existence, the relation of man to nature, the quality of life to be sought in a scientific-industrial society, and the function of art. Miyoshi thus sheds light not only on the significance of argument in Tennyson's "The Two Voices," for example, but on the relationship between Dickens' obsession with the self and his preliferating subplots, on Arnold's examination of antipodal ways of life in Culture and Anarchy. and on the connection manifested late in the century between inner fragmentation and the evolution of new artistic techniques. Broadly summarized, Miyoshi·s thesis is that in various ways, but especially by creating villains who alternated between wickedness and remorse, and by exploring bizarre, forbidden aspects of psychology and conduct, the authors of Gothic romances established literary conventions that were later appropriated by nineteenth-century writers to portray their inner division. Romantic poets, particularly Shelley and Keats, fostered such division when they tried, unsuccessfully , to unite their mundane selves and their visions of ideal beauty or reality. Around the 1830s, writers like Tennyson, Browning, and Carlyle sought to end internal division by the moral act of imposing reason upon life and art - in effect, by willing division away. Often, however, the statement in their art that division had ended was belied by the form which that art took. By the 1850s, Clough and Matthew Arnold were doubting their ability to will division away, and their poetry came to be dominated by an ineffectual dialogue of the mind with itself, a widespread epiphenomenon of the divided 233 self in the period, to which, in fact, Miyoshi directs most of his attention. Around the late 1860s and early 1870s, reintegration of the divided - or by now, fragmented - self became virtually impossible for Rossetti, Dickens, and James Thomson. In the 1890s, many found the High Victorian attempt to resolve fragmentation through moral assertion not just unacceptable, but repugnant. Indeed, some people, bored with everyday existence, cultivated fragmentation in themselves, attempting thereby to achieve in life the condition of art. Their effort failed. However, certain writers, making bolder use in their work of Gothic conventions that expressed inner division, brought together aspects of the romance and realistic novel in a way that led to new techniques and forms in fiction. Students of the period of transition would probably be most interested in Miyoshi·s treatment of the 1880s and 1890s. Discussing works by Butler, Hardy, and Shaw among others, Miyoshi demonstrates that the crisis of identity afflicted more than just aesthetes and decadents, and he reveals how by virtue of their response to the divided self writers of the last two decades of the century are at once similar to, and different from, the High Victorians. Most perceptively, he connects the personal experience of fragmentation to the emergence of new artistic modes. The role-playing and wearing of masks that writers experienced in their lives as a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 232-236
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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