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BOOK REVIEWS One such avowal comes after he recalls how he felt on reading the last line of Philip Larkin's "Unfinished Poem"—as if he had encountered and recognized "a part of the real world, a truth." The experience provokes this act of testimony: "I am not prepared to believe that this 'text' of Larkin's is distinguishable from an advertisement or a white paper or a newspaper report only because a small community of readers wants to 'privilege' one kind of discourse over others. It seems absurd to have to keep on saying so, but there is a valid experience of poetry, a response appropriate to the world as humanly apprehended—proved on the pulses is a usual though worn way of talking about it." Kermode's tone here is finely, humanly, poised between weariness and exasperation. Parrinder's remarks about the challenges posed by the status of the canon and the "teaching" of literature provokes Kermode's second protestation of principle and belief: . . . like Lionel Trilling, I regard it as essential to "keep the road open"—to maintain, somehow, a style of talking about literature (in classrooms and in literary journalism as well) which will preserve the reading public, and— quite simply—literature (which we must presume to recognize) from destruction . I regard this as by far the most important single element in the task of university teachers of literature; it is nothing less than the preservation of what we give that name. In their own time they can read what they like and deconstruct or neo-historicise what they like, but in the classroom they should be on their honour to make people know books well enough to understand what it is to love them. If they fail in that, either because they despise the humbleness of the task or because they don't themselves love literature, they are failures and frauds. I hope I make myself clear. He makes himself very clear. This is a book honoring a man who has kept his honor in writing criticism and offering interpretations that help people know books well enough to understand what it is to love them. Maria DiBattista --------------------- Princeton University William Morris as Businessman Charles Harvey and Jon Press. William Morris: Design and Enterprise in Victorian Britain. Manchester: Manchester University Press; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991. χ + 257 pp. $79.95 THIS IS QUITE a stunning book. Within a small compass, it takes Morris through his comparatively short life, a story that will not be new to those who have a general familiarity with Morris. But this study puts 65 ELT 36:1 1993 that story in quite a new context, one that has not been investigated so thoroughly, carefully and imaginatively before: Morris as businessman /designer. In the course of the book, the authors demolish two standard, and quite inaccurate, generalizations about Morris. First, that Morris was a bad businessman, but thanks to Warrington Taylor, the manager of the firm until 1866 (who, it turns out, was less efficient than had been thought), and later George Wardle, he was financially successful. Morris is here shown as strikingly shrewd and self-aware. The second generalization—that Morris's various activities had little to do with one another—has been dubious for some time, and was most notably corrected many years ago by E. P. Thompson (who is warmly acknowledged throughout this work). Those who found Morris's socialist , indeed communist, politics distasteful claimed, if they liked his other activities, that his politics had little or nothing to do with his work as a poet or as a designer. Those who didn't like Morris in any form enjoyed accusing him of being a hypocrite; a successful Victorian businessman who did not allow his socialism to interfere with his profits or his activities in the workplace. The William Morris who emerges in this study is more impressive and "integrated" than ever before. Yet he is far from a sentimental hero; he is, rather, a recognizable human being, with his share of unhappiness and faults. Harvey and Press do not present a radically new pattern for Morris's life, but they present much new material, splendidly handled...


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