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ELT 36 : 1 1993 But he is at the center of the debate about leisure because, more than most of his contemporaries, he understood that if socialism was to succeed it had to be enjoyable. His Clarion Songbook is interesting because, as Waters points out, music had the potential to fuse "rational recreation" with socialist political convictions. It is creative, inclusive, and even radical, as is clear from the Owenite and Chartist musical anthologies that were published earlier in the century. In view of its important theme and thorough research, it would be agreeable to report that Waters's book fulfills all of its expectations. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Much of the volume is suggestive rather than conclusive. Some sections, including that dealing with gender-specific forms of leisure, are absorbing. Others add little to a book that occasionally seems like an extended article instead of a monograph. Overall, though, this is a useful study that raises stimulating and important questions about leisure. Joel H. Wiener City College of New York & CUNY Graduate Center Popular Fiction Harold Orel. Popular Fiction in EngL·nd> 1914-1918. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1992. vi + 249 pp. $28.00 THIS IS NOT, as might be expected from its title, a book about British fiction of the Great War, but is rather a discursive study of a number of novels written in England during the war years. It is a book of few surprises unless the fact that it is preoccupied with texts little read today is in itself a surprise. After a prefatory section providing an overview of the status of publishing and reviewing during the early years of this century, Professor Orel gives over about a quarter of his book to a section titled "Novels That Ignored the War": Moore's The Brook Kerith (1916), Douglas's South Wind (1917), Swinnerton's Nocturne (1917), and Mackenzie's The Early Life and Adventures of Sylvia Scarlett (1918). His method is traditional: he discusses plot, characterization , and stylistics. The choice of texts is puzzling. Are these the "best" of the novels of that four-year period—works that require resurrection and réévaluation? Or are they chosen because they—like protuberant reefs in a harbor—are simply there? If there is a compelling reason why contemporary readers ought to study these works then the point ought to be emphatically made. Except for "ignoring the war"—and 106 BOOK REVIEWS most books written during any war do just that—these texts seem unrelated to one another. This absence of focus and unity is also marked by his next section, cryptically titled Thunder on the Horizon," where he prepares five short essays given over to Webb's The Golden Arrow (1915), Conrad's Victory (1915), Hueffer's The Good Soldier (1915), Waugh's The Loom of Youth (1917), and Lewis's Tarr (1918). Orel's thesis here is "the possibility that something had gone hugely, monstrously, and permanently wrong in the lives of fictional characters living in England, and the conditions of life across the Channel." Well, yes, that is true—but is it enough? After all, the novel as literary form has been preoccupied with cultural dislocations for a very long time. Once again, one wonders why the 1914-1918 period was chosen for the boundaries of Orel's survey. Almost any other four-year period would have done as well. A final section discusses three writers whose work does bear upon the Great War: Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) and Greenmantle (1916), Wells's Mr. Britling Sees It Through (1916), and Bennett's The Pretty Lady (1918). The book concludes with a chapter on that mysterious and anonymous hybrid, The Love of an Unknown Solider: Found in a Dug-Out (1918) which Orel briefly summarizes without deciding whether it is novel or memoir. Professor Orel is a patient scholar who deeply respects these novels. Perhaps his strongest card lies in his knowledge of the publishing scene during the war years. He clearly shows how publishers and reviewers conformed to a "business as usual" mentality and evinced little interest in encouraging writing that would portray war realistically. (As he says, no writer...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 106-108
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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