In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

ELT 47 : 3 2004 empire have, presumably, grist to offer this particular mill. Desire is no less remarkably one-sided and monolithic: whether or not the male colonized Other has ever wanted the male colonizer, overtly or covertly, must, on the face of this collection, remain guesswork. So much for the empire's "writing back": as far as this project goes, it is astonishingly mute, passive, deprived of articulateness. Imperial Desires contains several stimulating, readable pieces, but ultimately leaves one hankering for the solider fare its title promises but only partly delivers on. J. H. STAPE ________________ Université de Versailles Jane Ellen Harrison Annabel Robinson. The Life and Work of Jane Ellen Harrison. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. xvi + 332 pp. $70.00 ONCE THE SUBJECT of academic ridicule and parlor gossip, British classicist Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928) is now considered one of the most brilliant, colorful, and complex women of her time, and certainly the most famous female classical scholar. The archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes described her as "one of those individuals, perhaps the most valuable in any culture, endowed with such creative enthusiasm that they can kindle anyone who carries a few shreds of mental or spiritual tinder." And Stanley Hyman, literary critic and husband of Shirley Jackson, considered Harrison's work on the origins of Greek religion , Themis, "the most revolutionary book of the twentieth century." The revival of interest in this controversial and unconventional Victorian was sparked by Robert Ackerman's watershed 1969 dissertation on Harrison and her Cambridge Ritualists colleagues. Though the latest to publish, Annabel Robinson was among the first to study Harrison, spending literally decades digging into archival materials, including the unpublished Harrison biography by Hope Mirrlees, Harrison's companion from the time she retired from Newnham until her death. Sadly, at Mirrlees's urging, Harrison burned her papers. Jane Harrison was a forerunner of structuralism, a leading practitioner in the movement to apply anthropological methods to the study of ancient Greece. She was also the driving force of an intellectual school known as the Cambridge Ritualists (Gilbert Murray—later Oxford Regius Professor of Greek, and fellow Cambridge colleagues Francis M. Cornford and A. B. Cook). Among nonclassicists, her major contribution lies in her theories on the origins of drama and its relations to myth and 342 BOOK REVIEWS ritual. The idea that there exists a "ritual plot" (birth, crisis, death, and rebirth) and an instinctual human need to experience this catharsis had a major impact on literary modernism, influencing T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence , and Virginia Woolf. Myth-ritual theories inspired much debate in the early twentieth century, and the Cambridge Ritualists banded together in heated arguments against competing theorists such as Lewis Farnell (Cults of the Greek States) and William Ridgeway (Origin of Tragedy). In actuality, most arguments stemmed from the simple distrust that traditionalists held for the new "science" of comparative mythology as espoused by Harrison et al. and their much more famous colleague, Sir James Frazer. Yet it was Harrison they attacked. As one of the few female academics of the time, she found herself under a microscope in the insular and tradition -bound university communities that tended to view women's mental abilities with much skepticism. For years, Cambridge had been embroiled in passionate debates on the granting of university degrees for women (realized only in 1948). And, not only was Harrison a woman in a man's sphere, she also held unorthodox social-political ideas. Her pacifism during the Great War, her atheism, and the feminist subtext of her writings infuriated the more conservative dons. Some of Harrison's most vituperative critics were powerful enough to do lasting damage to her reputation; others merely delighted in repeating gossip and, like worrisome gnats, undermining her whenever they could. Provoking them further, Harrison was also a popular charismatic public personality ; by the time she finally gained an academic post (at Newnham College , Cambridge), she was already well-known on the lecture circuit. Prior to her Newnham appointment, Harrison sublimated her teaching skills in the role of entertainer/educator—first at museums, then at schools and lecture halls across Britain. Audiences flocked to see her spectacular and melodramatic...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 342-346
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.