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BOOK REVIEWS enough pennies, a child could make the trip to the local toy shop and choose from a vast array of mechanical toys, dolls, train sets and games." Despite the sentimentalized generalities that establish its superficial tenor, Pettigrew's book does provide a wealth of detail concerning the surface fashions and styles of the lives of the very rich. Pettigrew's research, though limited in scope, is remarkably thorough, with an index and bibliography that provides easy access to her information. Just the lists of the books and magazines popular in the Edwardian Age are worth a quick read in the chapter entitled "Pleasures and Pastimes." Also, Pettigrew has interviewed or found comments by many people who grew up during this time, and she sprinkles the text with their recorded reminiscences. In "Cause for Celebration," for example, Cynthia Asquith describes Easter: "We always went to Clouds for Easter—a festival kept by Gan with as much ceremony—hundreds of eggs hidden all over the garden and the house—as Christmas"; and Joan Pynder recalls that at Christmas there "was a huge Christmas tree and choirboys because we had a chapel." The tone of fond reminiscence for a world that has been "lost for ever" pervades. While An Edwardian Childhood cannot be seen, really, as a book promoting scholarly study, reading it is an interesting nostalgic trip through lives that seems more mythic than real. And the wealth of detail and the beauty of the pictures and illustrations make it of passing interest to those interested in style as well as substance. Pettigrew gives us all the accoutrements, but little real examination of "the golden days of Edwardian childhood." Deborah Martinson ______________ Occidental College Symbol and Method: Schreiner's Fiction Gerald Monsman. Olive Schreiner's Fiction: Landscape and Power. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991. xv + 201 pp. $45.00 IN THIS FIRST BOOK-LENGTH STUDY of Olive Schreiner's fiction, Gerald Monsman combines historical and formalist approaches to present Schreiner's narratives as artful reconfigurations of her sociopolitical views. Essentially Monsman argues that Schreiner's narrative style, often viewed as lacking in artistry, "attempts to improve upon conventional Eurocentric ways of telling stories"; Schreiner's challenge of sociopolitical hierarchies is thus a structural as well as a thematic element of her work. The ramifications of this statement for a colonial 239 ELT 36:2 1993 and feminist such as Olive Schreiner are obvious. However, despite solid readings of individual works and some provocative comments regarding Schreiner's narrative modes, Monsman's book never fulfills the promise of its intriguing thesis. For Monsman, the central vehicle of Schreiner's storytelling is the symbol, the aesthetic structure that "liberates" by suggesting an eternally elusive unity while simultaneously challenging the notion of a transcendental truth that can be directly represented—the "idol" that could potentially "enslave." While there is nothing inherently wrong with this argument, its exclusive emphasis on symbolism (used broadly to include imagery as well as certain aspects of characterization) unnecessarily reduces Monsman's larger thesis and prevents the exploration of its myriad implications, making the book read more like an oldfashioned symbol explication than a thorough-going analysis of the potentially subversive elements of Schreiner's narrative style. Only occasionally does Monsman move beyond the discussion of symbolism to consider other issues of narrative structure, such as the problems of closure in autobiographical works in general or the resistance to traditional teleological patterns evident in, for instance, Rebekah's long letters to her husband in From Man to Man. While Monsman does introduce such issues—his assertion that The Story of an African Farm is a "multivocal narrative structure" is a good example—he often fails to explore them fully, ignoring such obvious formal elements as chapter interrelation and organization, intricacies of narrative voice, as well as Schreiner's creation of a narrative mode that seems to fall somewhere between realism and lyricism. In short, Monsman continually invokes symbolism as Schreiner's prime narrative strategy, a view that is disappointingly limited and does not adequately distinguish Schreiner from the innumerable other authors who use complex symbols to both enhance and frustrate the linear development of narrative. Monsman states, quite...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 239-242
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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