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BOOK REVIEWS isn't perhaps as good a guide... as fiction which has no such explicit purpose ." Not completely original thinking, he concedes: "Ford's friend Masterman ... had written in his book The Condition of England of the need to diagnose 'the hidden life of England' and suggested that fiction might be the instrument employed." But Kermode sees the more penetrating lens as the less demanding novel. A final example of approachable Kermode (not all his pieces are free from dense theorizing) is his "Botticelli Recovered," which also recovers one of the minor heroes of the 1880s and 1890s in England, Herbert Home, who, we're reminded, was deemed too unimportant to be remembered in the monumental, multi-volume Dictionary of National Biography . (However he will be in the replacement Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, to appear imminently.) Through Home's co-editorship of the Century Guild Hobby Horse (with Arthur Mackmurdo) and his good offices for Nineties painters, poets and the new arts and crafts movement, he was an engineer of a sort, engineering exquisite taste. "My interest in the life and work of Herbert Home," he writes, "... was acquired from the late Ian Fletcher, at the time the supreme authority on the 'decadent' poets of the late nineteenth century." Kermode's essay, however, was written prior to the publication of Fletcher's Rediscovering Herbert Home: Poet, Architect, Typographer, Art Historian (ELT Press, 1990), which otherwise assuredly would have been lauded. Home grew bored with the modern world he was assisting to birth, became more involved in the Botticelli quattrocento, moved to an old palazzo in Florence, and pioneered new scholarship on the painter. But, Kermode concludes, "In Home's masterpiece"—a life of Botticelli published in 1908—"there is little to discard, which may represent a failure of intellectual ambition." It seems a mid-boggling statement about a work conceded to be a masterpiece, but Kermode means that the biography offers the facts and the background of a life, but no interpretative theory of art and culture to chew over, augment or discard. For Frank Kermode, theory has always been the thing. STANLEY WEINTRAUB University of Delaware Reading Dubliners Margot Norris. Suspicious Readings of Joyce's 'Dubliners'. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003. 296 pp. $49.95 357 ELT 47 : 3 2004 A NEW WORK of Joyce scholarship is always an event when the author is Margot Norris. As important as her previous work has been, Norris's third full-length study of Joyce, Suspicious Readings of Joyce's 'Dubliners', may prove to be her most significant and enduring contribution . The volume is nothing short of masterful; its fifteen chapters, one devoted to each of the Dubliners stories, range from the informative and useful to the astonishingly provocative and groundbreaking. The best of these chapters rank among the most compelling readings of Joyce's texts to be found anywhere. They reveal the ways in which Joyce's stories are even more "deceptively simple" than many readers—including "suspicious" readers such as Norris—have thought. The study also generously treats previous Dubliners criticism; Norris's book provides a complete course in the critical history of'Dubliners, in addition to everything else it offers. In her introduction to the volume Norris explores our continuing fascination with Joyce's Dubliners and the evolution in her own thinking about this text. Norris brings "less a specific theoretical perspective or approach to the stories than a more generalized disposition produced by many years of wide theoretical reading." This "ad hoc" approach to the use of theory prevents her study from ever becoming "doctrinaire" in its procedures or predictable in its conclusions. Norris's theoretical arsenal includes an array of modern and contemporary thinkers, among them Freud and Nietzsche, from whom she acquires an "instinct for suspicious reading" of the kind generally associated with Paul Ricoeur's "hermeneutics of suspicion." For Norris, readers of Joyce need to attend not only to what is included in the stories but to what is left out—to the various counter-discourses or "silent discourses that supplement, interrogate , and frequently, dispute the narration" and that function to reveal "various hidden psychological and ideological agendas." What Norris concludes of...


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pp. 357-360
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Will Be Archived 2021
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