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ELT 36:2 1993 [Due to] the frequency with which tree imagery appears in her fiction at the moment of spiritual crisis. . . . Schreiner's name change may have been a self-baptism into the symbolic meaning of the olive tree, its branch of peace and its consecrating oil. Such comments are exaggerated and misplaced, and serve only to undercut the occasionally fine readings of the texts themselves. Yet, despite such interpretive infelicities, Monsman has, on balance, given us much to think about. While he fails to explore fully the implications of Schreiner's narrative style, he does, at the very least, force us to take a closer look at Schreiner's fiction as a separate body of work, to consider its aesthetic coherence as well as the ways in which it is markedly distinct from the author's nonfiction. Indeed, her nonfiction works such as Woman and Labour have received more attention in the twentieth century; in 1968, Uys Krige wrote in her introduction to Olive Schreiner: A Selection that Schreiner displays a "lack of development" in her art, and that "she was not, intrinsically, a novelist." Yet Schreiner's letters reveal her unusual attachment to her fictional works, a sense that they were quite important to their creator. In a letter to Karl Pearson in 1886, she wrote of her unpublished fiction manuscripts: "I often try to burn them, and it gives me such pain. It seems as if I were burning the people in them." It is to Monsman's credit that he reminds us of the central role that Schreiner's fiction writing played in her life. This first comprehensive study of that fiction should initiate a broader dialogue on the subject. Janet Galligani Casey ______________ College of the Holy Cross Women's Travel Writing Sara Mills. Discourses of Difference: An Analysis of Women's Travel Writing and Colonialism. London: Routledge, 1991. 232 pp. $55.00 AS BOOKS OF TRAVEL DO, and literary criticism of travel writing at its best ought to do, Sara Mills's book occupies and explores several crossroads: the title and subtitle tell us what some of those intersections are called and how they are to be negotiated, as well as which categories will be mapped out along the trail. Mills does some very careful cartography for the reader who wonders which questions matter most to an analysis of women's travel writing. Like some maps "of old" that seemed to spend more effort representing the monsters at the margins of the unknown "world" than in drawing the outlines of the topography of the 242 BOOK REVIEWS known, Mills has some of her very own vexatious critical monsters to position at the periphery so that the questions that started and kept this effort moving along can remain in focus. A critical Foucauldian and feminist, Mills wants to color in some of the specificity lacking in discourse analysis and guard against some of the reductiveness that can dull the edge of feminist work. This book represents a significant contribution to complicating the theoretical issues involved in gendered readings of literary genres, particularly the travel narrative; additionally, it asks us to recognize the complexities that are necessitated by the crossing of a gender analysis of domination with those forms of domination and exploitation in place in various colonial and, consequently, post-colonial settings. Mills tells her readers early that she "will be arguing that women's travel texts are produced and received within a context which shares similarities with the discursive construction and reception of male texts, whilst at the same time ... there may be negotiations in women's texts which result in differences which may seem to be due to gender." What leaves this reader impatient is how much time Mills seems to spend packing her bags for this critical journey before getting on the road. The introduction and one early chapter, "Feminist Work on Women's Travel Writing," are both rather painstaking discussions about why Foucault is an apt and worthier traveling/theoretical companion than either Lacan or Kristeva. The dismissal of the psychoanalytic as a pertinent category for discussing just how women negotiate their texts as opposed to men is counter-intuitive...


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pp. 242-245
Launched on MUSE
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Will Be Archived 2021
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