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ELT: Volume 34:3, 1991 Conrad telling him: "They are stupid, and can never be of real value. The cinema is not a great medium. It merely affords entertainment for people who enjoy sitting with thought utterly suspended and watching a changing pattern flickering before their eyes." And we learn that not everyone was happy with Conrad all the time, as this February 1928 morsel from the diary of Hugh Walpole suggests: "Conrad never said anything very interesting in his last years; he was too preoccupied with money and gout. He was only thrilling when he lost his temper and chattered and screamed like a monkey." In short, Joseph Conrad: Interviews and Recollections paints a vivid picture of this paradoxically austere yet engaging literary figure. The volume is both informative and well edited; Ray is to be commended not only for assembling these disparate and out-of-the-way pieces, but for annotating them sensibly and thoroughly. While this book might not ultimately prove to be indispensable to Conrad scholarship, it does usefully supplement our knowledge of the man one contributor to the volume calls anything but a "propagandist" with something to "prove": "He is the artist pure and simple." Brian W. Shaffer Rhodes College Voice in Narrative Bette London. The Appropriated Voice: Narrative Authority in Conrad, Forster, and Woolf. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990. vii + 196 pp. $29.95 IN HER BOOK Professor London examines in detail the structural mechanics of three modern classics, Heart of Darkness, A Passage to India, and To the Lighthouse. She narrows her focus to consider, in the main, the problem of "voice" in the novel and the related subject of narrative authority in this genre. She works from the conviction that there is no such entity as "voice" in the sense of its being a readily discernible and characteristic verbal signature of a writer. She seemingly rejects the concept of voice as authorial sensibility, in the sense that "style is the man." (I think such a rejection is in part debatable, since the work of any author bears the imprint of his or her sensibility throughout ). Rather, London feels that voice in the novel is a construct of mutually contending voices and that it is in this interplay that something 326 Book Reviews like a recognizable "voice" emerges. There are "voices" in each work rather than a single or singular "voice." The foregoing is my understanding of what London is doing in her own book, but she is somewhat vague in telling us what voice really is and/or its components. Sometimes voice seems to mean that of the narrative as construct, sometimes that of a narrator, sometimes that of a character, and sometimes that of the conflict among several of these voices. London is expert at analyzing the minutiae and the contradictions present in a literary work, but she fails to build any convincing synthesis in her critiques of the individual narratives. She deconstructs her texts admirably but then leaves them more or less in fragments. Her style is involuted and convoluted and excessively abstract; it is difficult to read and understand her. And she reveals little enthusiasm for the books that she so carefully analyzes. London is much concerned with the ways by which each of her authors more or less unconsciously "appropriates" values and attitudes from his or her own culture, these values and attitudes often being those most dominant and rigid in the given culture. This "appropriation," London would maintain, tends to undermine each author's professed liberal humanist intentions and any claims to aesthetic self-sufficiency that he or she might make for their works. In London's view writers become, in large part, prisoners of such engendered values and attitudes, often not seeing themselves self-critically. The most expert facet of London's book is her presentation of the contradictions present in the works that she examines. But I think that London perhaps does not recognize fully that such contradictions are not a blemish; they form, rather, the complexities and the ambiguities present in all first-class literary works. She also fails to realize that even a radical critic of his or her own culture...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 326-329
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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