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ELT: Volume 34:2,1991 times longed for a patriarchal male like her father and blamed Murry for not meeting her changing needs, she was rarely fortunate in finding a man of intelligence who deeply respected her gifts. Murry's generous, unflagging behef in her talent was crucial. Whatever Mansfield might have accomphshed had she not been debilitated by illness and died in her mid-thirties, her writing redeemed her again from depression. Being forced back upon herself, she fought the harder to catch the significance of transient moments and come to terms with her own past. Ten months before her death, she explained to an admirer: "It's only in those years I've really been able to work and always my thoughts and feehngs go back to New Zealand—rediscovering it, finding beauty in it, re-living it." In Katherine Mansfield: Selected Letters, Vincent O'Sulhvan offers a compact, representative selection which provides a panoramic view of the primary events and concerns of Mansfield's life. He and Margaret Scott have been editing and publishing the full correspondence since 1984. The last three volumes, which will cover her final wandering years, have not yet appeared, so the Selected Letters previews the most important and interesting of the late letters. John Middleton Murry heavily edited the letters he pubhshed in 1928 and 1951, correcting idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation and excising material he deemed too trivial, intimate, or reveahng of flaws. The letters included here are unabridged and have been re-dated and re-transcribed by Margaret Scott, preserving Mansfield's underhnings, capitahzations, and other whimsicahties. The helpful notes clarify most ambiguities. Sharron Cassavant Northeastern University CONTEXTS FOR MODERNISM Claire M. Tylee. The Great War and Women's Consciousness: Images of Militarism and Womanhood in Women's Writings, 1914-1964. University of Iowa Press, 1990. xvi + 283 pp. $27.50 Stella McNichol. Virginia Woolf and the Poetry of Fiction. New York: Routledge, 1990. xii + 182 pp. $47.50 TO JUDGE by their authors' accounts, these books proceed from antithetical assumptions about the appropriate context for a literary study. Like Robert Frost's silken tent, Tylee's book is defined by its 222 Book Reviews attachments. It depends upon an extraordinary range of hterary, critical, and historical texts to assert "an imaginative memory of the First World War which is distinctly women's" and explore "what part women's writing plays in the construction of a national culture." In contrast, McNichol's book is serenely and self-consciously isolated. EssentiaUy a genre study, Virginia Woolf and the Poetry of Fiction comprises close readings of Woolf s major novels which ignore the influence of biography and criticism. McNichol defends her method, stating simply that while some studies of Woolf have been stimulating for her, "my own approach does not depend on any of them in such a particular way as to require footnote acknowledgment, nor have I thought it desirable to interrupt the attention of my readers by directing them to topics outside the immediate scope of my study." One can hardly imagine two more disparate contexts for studies of the modern novel. The Great War and Women's Consciousness joins a number of recent feminist works which consider the relationship between war and gender as it is figured in hterature. As its title suggests, Tylee's book is a rejoinder to Paul Fussell's seminal The Great War and Modern Memory. She argues that FusseU's book "treat[ed] time, memory and the past as if entirely separate from the pohtical and economic developments of any concrete society.... Above all, [Fussell] divorced war hterature from the bed of propaganda within which ... it gained its sense." Since Fussell claims that an understanding of modern culture "originates in the application of mind and memory to the events of the Great War," Tylee concludes that his omission of women's war writing narrows, even cripples, his vision: "for an understanding of'modern understanding' we remain dependent on men." Tylee's project, then, takes on two (possibly paradoxical) tasks: to demonstrate that FusseU's exclusion of women is significant and distorting (which presumes an archetypal and distinct female experience of the war), and to describe...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 222-226
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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