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BOOK REVIEWS a significant issue, but one which is not resolved, nor even directly addressed. And then there is the question of Fisher's selection of novels. He includes, unusual for critical studies of Hardy, Desperate Remedies, The Hand ofEthelberta and A Laodicean, emphasizing the "critical suppression " of these texts that Hardy called "Novels of Ingenuity." In compensation for this neglect he wants "to offer readings ... of all nine texts Hardy chose to define as novels." In fact, however, Fisher omits Under the Greenwood Tree, which is one of the "Novels of Character and Environment" (because he could find no way of fitting it in?); and also he appears, himself, deliberately to suppress the "Romances and Fantasies "—A Pair of Blue Eyes, The Trumpet-Major, Two on a Tower, The Well-Beloved. Are they not too novels? What, we might ask, is in their constitution which requires their exclusion from Fisher's canon of Hardy's subversively inscribed texts? Simon Gatrell _____________ University of Georgia Helen and Olivia Rossetti [Isabel Meredith.] Helen and Olivia Rossetti. A Girl Among the Anarchists . Intro. Jennifer Shaddock. 1903; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992. xxii + 302pp. Cloth $35.00 Paper $9.95 WRITTEN IN 1903, Helen and Olivia Rossetti, under the pseudonym Isabel Meredith, wrote A Girl Among the Anarchists, an "autobiographical " narrative of a young woman who leaves the confines of her home and the dull predictability of English convention to join the free, eccentric, tattered world of the Anarchists. The Rossetti sisters were daughters of William Michael Rossetti, nieces of Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and cousins of Ford Madox Ford. Then twenty-nine and twenty-six respectively, Helen and Olivia freely drew on their own adolescent experiences as founders and printers of the Torch, ajournai espousing in its Statement of Principles the injustice of "the present division of society into rich and poor, oppressor and oppressed." Isabel, replete with money inherited from her deceased father and the blessing of her busy brother, finds printing the Tocsin, the Anarchist's new publication, a welcome change from the boredom of managing an empty house, and an escape from the bland homogeneity the Victorian woman was expected to embrace. What the Rossettis have written is a wonderfully conceived escape 229 ELT 37:2 1994 fiction. Isabel, reflecting that "time used often to hang rather heavily on my hands in the big house," searches for something that will help her escape the "monotonous life" that literally killed her mother. Drawn into politics by an interesting evening with her brother's Socialist friend, Isabel thinks long and carefully about her political kinship before she agrees to become a worker and a "propagandist." Acknowledging her guilt about living on "unearned increment'... a mere social parasite," Isabel finally dedicates herself tirelessly to printing, raising funds, helping others escape arrest, running interference for the disreputable, "very mixed cosmopolitan" characters of Italian gentlemen, Russian Nihilists, Spanish bombers, Jewish patriots, French spies. Isabel recounts her adventures zestfully, emphasizing her elation and sense of satisfaction in working in eccentric, heterogenic, masculine space. As she says of their new printing shop: "we were absorbed in our work, absorbed in our enthusiasms, utterly engrossed in the thought of the coining revolution...." As needs be in such fictions, Isabel tires, but never fails, confronts the impossible, but overcomes all with dedication and tenacity. Shaddock 's introduction to the narrative tells us that The heroine's unchaperoned idealism enables an emancipatory narrative that provides a marvelously sustained vision of the New Woman." But Isabel's idealism is never as important as her growing sense of competence: she cleverly evades Mrs. Wattles's drunken oratories, adeptly manipulates the despicable Short, and sensibly though rather sadly recognizes the failures of "personalities" between her and Dr. Armitage, her and Kosinksi . And Isabel's narrative, episodic and philosophic by turn, rarely lacks interest: she imbues her story with political satire and insight, caricatures and first-rate characterizations, plots of absurdity and intrigue . Her critique of Anarchism, as is her critique of politics in general, is thoughtful and serious. Isabel journeys and grows, and ultimately leaves the press, and by implication, the political activism of Anarchism. Decrying Isabel's growing disenchantment...


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