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Book Reviews Canyon." On one level his mackintosh is a contraceptive, as are most waterproofing devices in Joyce's works. The man in the mackintosh has no identity outside of the rubber preservative he wears; he is a gigantic perambulating condom avoiding life's deluge. But as the logical conclusion, the end product of the sterile, contraceptive society Bloom seems to fear, the man in the mackintosh might be Bloom's own doppelgänger. Lowe-Evans's ingenious point has more merit when applied to, say, Gabriel Conroy's galoshes in "The Dead," but it strikes me as painfully strained when forced both upon the enigmatic Mackintosh (whose very enigma is the point) and the very curious Mr. Bloom. Whatever else these two characters might be, they are not doppelgängers. What, then, does one do with a study that contains valuable material, but that applies it with a leaden hand? The answer lies, I think, in giving her due credit for bringing important matters to our attention as Joyceans, and then to use her valuable research in forming richer interpretative readings of our own. If that is as good a definition as any of the "useful" scholarly study, then Crimes Against Fecundity is surely one example. Sanford Pinsker Franklin & Marshall College Women Writing Autobiography Shari Benstock, ed. The Private Self: Theory and Practice of Women's Autobiographical Writings. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988. 319 pp. Cloth $34.95 Paper $10.95 LET US BEGIN, as the editor Shari Benstock does, with the title of this volume of essays on women's autobiographical writing. The "Private Self designates the terms of a concerted inquiry into what is specific to women's attempts at self-representation. "Each of these terms," writes Benstock, plays a role with respect to "theory" and "practice," because it is a theory of selfhood that is always under examination in analyses of autobiographical writings, whether or not this analysis overtly raises questions as to how selfhood—and in this case, female selfhood—is defined. The "private" suggests a scene of writing that invites the female, a separate space at the very limits of the generic divide between autobiographical and other kinds of writings and the gender divide between masculine and feminine. 507 ELT: Volume 33:4 1990 The intent of these essays, then, is to interrogate the "theory" of female selfhood propounded, consciously or inadvertently, in women's autobiographical writings and to describe the private "scene of writing " that solicits such efforts at self-representation. It would be foolishly contentious to argue that autobiography does not aspire to picture a self, and that gender is but an ornamental tracery in female self-portraiture. But, to return to initial metaphors, the border wars that take place along the gender divide may be skirmishes rather than fully mobilized rhetorical battles for legitimacy and aesthetic domain. Let us review one such militant controversy, the argument, pursued at length in Benstock's and Susan Stanford Friedman's essays, that "patriarchal" models of autobiographical writing (for whom Augustine, Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin are the principle exemplars and Georges Gusdorf and James Olney the primary theoreticians cited) reflect an inflexible, often hegemonic ideology of selfhood. The "private self of female self-authorship may indeed be said to find its ideological adversary in the "authoritative" or "organic" individual, the writing self who testifies to the meaning of his life as it is disclosed to him—intermittently, but eventually "fully"—over time. Benstock argues that Gusdorf and Olney presume too much when they posit that autobiography is a narrative act in which the writing "I" or Subject is transformed into an Object of a motivated, that is investigative, remembrance which aims at the transparency of full self-disclosure. Drawing on Lacanian precepts, she disputes this model of authorial identity. The horizon that unites the past with the present self it has helped shape is, counters Benstock , actually a fissure, finely camouflaged by the minions obedient to Lacan's Symbolic law, which "drives inexorably toward unity, identity, sameness." This is by now a familiar line of attack on the fictionality of selfhood and its ideological as well as linguistic determinations (i.e. the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 507-511
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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