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Book reviews researchers and policymakers to develop a global perspective on women's economic and political situation," the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers, the Manuela Ramos Movement Women's Center in Lima, Peru, and the Women's Strike for Peace. So there is a flicker of hope in an ever bleaker, ever more hostile world—if women organize. Vara Neverow-TÕ irk Southern Connecticut State University Pound Among the Giants Herbert N. Schneidau. Waking Giants: The Presence of the Past in Modernism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. xi + 279 pp. $29.95 NOTWITHSTANDING THE THESIS that "the Modernists"—Hardy, Forster, Conrad, Anderson, Faulkner, Hemingway, Wolfe, Stein, Yeats, Joyce, Eliot, and Pound—"were all atavists in some way" and, therefore, an investigation of the ways in which they utilized "the ideas of the past" would provide an excellent basis for gaining a better understanding of these Waking Giants, it seems clear that the focusing figure for this study is Ezra Pound and his central role in the Modernist tradition. Schneidau is superb in his understanding of and presentation of Pound's impact on his age, and the present volume does an excellent job of summarizing his influence and contributions to the twentieth-century literary scene. This focus is the major achievement and importance of this study. The book begins by noting that "the return or revival of the past in the present" is central to the works of Hardy, Forster, and Conrad. In Hardy the shift is from the Romantics' concept and use of myth that is visionary and transcendental to a myth that is "chthonic and artifactual ." Hardy stresses the biological bases of life, rather than the ethereal perspectives of the Romantics. His figures are seen from "the Victorian perspective of a newly acquired sense of geological time... ." Although Forster rather timidly uses what T. S. Eliot in referring to Joyce called the " 'mythical method'," Forster does nevertheless emphasize the importance of the land and houses as manifestations of "sacred space, or autochthony." The analysis of Conrad's The Secret Agent illustrates both the value of Schneidau's work as well as some of its weaknesses. The readings while often thought-provoking and highly suggestive do not always have the necessary textual evidence to support or validate the interpreta131 ELT 36:1 1993 tions. For instance, about the scene where Winnie asks Verloc "whether she should put out the light: Tes. Put it out', he said at last in a hollow tone' "—Schneidau writes that "the scene is a bizarre, anticipatory parody of Othello, and Winnie is a submissive Desdemona who turns into a Clytemnestra...." Invoking an inverted Othello as an anticipatory parody is not particularly illuminating or useful. Again, commenting on the pornography of violence in The Secret Agent, Schneidau notes that "All the moments of grimmest comedy . . . are manifestations of similarly ambiguous intertwining of violence and sex." And in this context he observes that the genre of black humor "was perhaps invented by Euripides, when he has The Baccahe open with smoke curling up from the tomb of Semele, mother of Dionysus." The relevance of the reference is not compelling; moreover, there are certainly works older than The Baccahe that mixed the grimness of violence and sex. Last, after we read that Winnie's killing of Verloc "reverses the complicit rape of which their sex life consisted," shouldn't we ask what textual evidence is available to support the inference that Winnie and Verloc's marital relationship was never other than or less than rape? That these comments really clarify or provide a better understanding of The Secret Agent is at least open to serious question. Other more plausible explanations or interpretations are possible, though they may lack the sensationalism of the tabloids. The most valuable section of this book is the last chapter: "Ezra Pound: The Archaeology of the Immanent." These 69 pages provide the best, concise discussion and explanation of Pound—his work, his influence , his importance, and his repellent forays into economics and antiSemitism —to be found anywhere. Rather than accepting the frequent explanation for Pound's reliance on fragments, Schneidau correctly notes that Pound celebrated formlessness because it preserved the unique and the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 131-134
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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