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BOOK REVIEWS ters to Wilde; in one, Shelley writes: "I would have called on you this evening but I am suffering from nervousness, the result of insomnia, and am obliged to remain at home. I have longed to see you all through this week___I shall never forget your kindness to me___" Clarke asks Shelley : ".. .do you mean to tell the jury that, having in your mind that this man had behaved disgracefully towards you, you wrote this letter?" Unlike most of the various young "boys," Shelley, with a "decent background ," was ultimately found not guilty. While Merlin Holland was assisting the British Library in preparing a celebration of Oscar Wilde in 2000, he was fortunate in coming across a longhand manuscript of the Queensberry trial that was "brought into the Library" (no source mentioned): "I looked in astonishment at the ipsissima verba of what had transpired in that courtroom." As Holland concludes, eight shorthand writers had been involved in creating the manuscript, thereby conceivably providing prosecutors in the next two criminal trials with the necessary groundwork with which to convict Wilde. KARL BECKSON __________________ Brooklyn College, CUNY The Ascendancy of Theory Frank Kermode. Pieces of My Mind. Essays and Criticism 1958-2002. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. xii + pp. $26.00 FRANK KERMODE'S Pieces of My Mind is akin to a selfFestschrift . Now in his middle eighties, with a distinguished critical career still ongoing, Kermode has packaged a sampling of his output over half a century which is nothing if not wide-ranging. How many critics have published books and essays from biblical literature to Martin Amis, and extended themselves into art, architecture, dance and music? I owe him a personal debt for having turned a rather minor early work of mine long ago into a piece for the New York Times Book Review, and was rather sorry not to see it included here, but he has had a lot to winnow from. For ELT purposes, only a few of the selections are relevant, but these are thoughtful and even provocative, and often he has a winning way of writing as if he is talking informally one-on-one to the reader. "I have not forgotten my point," he says in one essay, "that there seems to be little serious theoretical discussion of forgetting in fiction or drama. Yet the matter cannot be too simple for investigation; it must have been overlooked . Even the psychologists seem to have little to say on the subject, 355 ELT 47 : 3 2004 always excepting Freud; unless I have missed something, they are understandably more interested in the positive issue of memory than in forgetting." And he discusses forgetting in Lear, Great Expectations, and The Good Soldier, also drawing on theorists like Lacan, Recoeur, Husserl and Derrida. In "The Man in the Mackintosh," about someone who turns up at Paddy Dignam's funeral in the Hades chapter of Ulysses , we are led into a search for the meaning of the elusive "Boy in the Shirt" at the moment of the arrest of Jesus as described in the gospel of Mark. From there, Kermode seeks other possible personifications of Death. Kermode's opening essay, "Poet and Dancer Before Diaghilev," is largely indebted to Yeats and the Nineties poets, almost his first love in literature, and the cult of the music hall from Mallarmé and Valéry through Eliot and Pound and Williams. His longest self-anthologized piece in the ELT sweep of years is "The English Novel, Circa 1907," which he calls not "a bad year for novels," as both The Secret Agent and The Longest Journey were published. But he muses, "There ought to be a relation between the Condition of England and the condition of the English novel," and to make his point chooses one with less severe "linguistic demands" than Conrad's or Forster's classics. His specimen work is Elinor Glyn's Three Weeks, read now only by literary archeologists, but perhaps still remembered as a sexual fantasy in tune with the decade. "Her New Man," Kermode contends, "is a boring Englishman transformed and liberated by coming into the knowledge, conveniently represented as sexual experience, which his own...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 355-357
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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