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ELT: VOLUME 34:2, 1991 The problem with the study is that it assumes the term "poetic" to be self-evident, which it is not. Those formal aspects of Woolf s novels from which she derives her unified interpretations—rhythmic order, imagery , aUusion—are not the sole property of poetry. Further, MacNichol believes the terms "poetic" and "psychological" to be antithetical: "The aim of this study ... is to move away from the general view of. . . Woolf as a psychological novelist. ... In focusing on the poetic rather than the psychological features of her fiction it is possible in some measure to do justice to its greater range and variety." McNichol imagines "psychological" to be a narrow, insular interpretive category, which precludes "the mystical." Her readings are interspersed with categorical (rather mystical) statements about poetic unity in Woolf s fiction. A sample: "vision is expressed through form, and the verbal texture of the works explores and expresses that vision and reinforces the form. The 'rhythmic order' of Mrs. Dalloway ... rises from and expresses the 'unity of consciousness'. There is, in other words, a unity at the level of the novel's verbal texture, and also an inner or deeper structure of imphcation and meaning. But the different layers are also unified. This kind of 'unity* is essentiaUy 'poetic'." For this to be persuasive, we need a more systematic analysis of the structure of effects, and some attempt to define these nebulous terms. McNichol's study floats hke a sUken baUoon apart from the current of more contextualized Woolf criticism. Wendy Moffat Dickinson College New Women Ruth Brandon. The New Women and the Old Men: Love, Sex and the Woman Question. London: Seeker and Warburg, 1990. 325 pp. £16.95 RUTH BRANDON has attempted to chronicle and interpret the relationship and couphngs of some renown late Victorian and Edwardian women and men. The "New Women" were Ohve Schreiner, Edith Lees Ellis, Eleanor Marx, Edith Bland, Margaret Sanger, and Rebecca West. The "Old Men" include the spouses and lovers of the "New Women": Havelock Ellis, Karl Pearson, Edward Avehng, Hubert Bland, and H. G. Wells. Brandon, however, is also concerned with the question as to why 226 Book Reviews these very capable and assertive "New Women" failed in their liaisons and marriages. Brandon begins with two unmarried couples—Eleanor Marx and Edward Avehng and Olive Schreiner and Havelock EUis—who arrived in the Derbyshire hills during late summer 1884 to enjoy a ^joint honeymoon ." The "idyU" represented "their general commitment to a new approach to hfe" and, on the part of the close friends, Eleanor and Olive, "an affirmation that they had abandoned the old restrictions" on malefemale relationships. Schreiner had achieved renown with her The Story of an African Farm (1882) and the young, bearded EUis had recently completed his medical studies exams. Like Schreiner and EUis, the darkhaired , untidy Marx and the pale, shghtly bent, Aveling were "searching for a moral code to fiU that void which in an earlier generation had been . . . occupied by conventional religion." How such an intelligent young woman, so weU loved and admired by almost aU who knew her, could have become besotted with a man so widely despised (especiaUy on matters of women and money) by aU who knew him remains a mystery. Like Hubert Bland and WeUs, Avehng was "one of those men who have an attraction for women quite inexphcable to the male sex." To such idealists as Ellis and Schreiner, their relationship and that of Marx and Avehng was "the free union . . . open and pubhc . . . based on principle." But, in spite of her hberated view of what the "New Woman" should be, Schreiner wanted to be dominated by a man and failed to secure domination from the gentle EUis. She also sought complete sexual fulfiUment which EUis could hardly provide. And, it wasn't long before Marx reahzed that Avehng was an unhappy choice, but she could never consider leaving him. GraduaUy, Schreiner drifted away from EUis and into the orbit of the handsome polymath, Karl Pearson. Like EUis, Pearson was interested in sexual relationships and the "Woman Question" and was the centre of the weU-known "Men and Women's Club" in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 226-229
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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