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Book Reviews Ellmann Memorial Volume Susan Dick, DecÃ-an Kiberd, Dougald McMillan, and Joseph Ronsley, eds. Essays for Richard EUmann: Omnium Gatherum. Kingston and Montreal: Magill-Queens University Press, 1989. 499 pp. $32.95 I HAVE ALWAYS darkly suspected that most collections of essays honoring a venerated mentor have as much to do with enhancing the careers of the contributors as they do in paying homage to the person for whom the essays were written. Such is not the case in the enormous omnium gatherum for Richard EUmann. The book is certainly long enough to rival EUmann's magnificent biographies of WUde and Joyce (though the present volume is in reduced, sometimes nearly microscopic, typeface), and, fulfiUing the promise of its title, it is on a range of topics most near to EUmann's heart and mind. Shghtly more than half the contributors are not EUmann's former students, though aU were friends, coUaborators, and coUeagues; Richard EUmann never made any differentiations. The brief biographical sketches of contributors, which distinguish his former students from the others, provide ample evidence of EUmann's influence on the profession, since for the most part the substantial accomplishments of many of his students admit them readily into the company of the great modernist scholarcontributors who claimed EUmann for a friend and coUeague. The editorial debate on who to invite and who to leave out must have been long and painful, although, as Joseph Ronsley's preface informs us, it was not difficult to get those sohcited to contribute. Richard EUmann was a great man, not only because his incisive inteUect was a major force in defining and shaping our concept of the modern age, but because he was an extraordinarily fine human being. Thus, it was with trepidation I began this volume, hoping that it was not too long, hoping the essays would merit EUmann's commendation . In almost aU cases they do. Beginning with the restrained respect of the editors for their teacher in the introduction, the first nine essays and the poems reflect not only admiration, but an attempt to focus on the man and his inordinate accomphshments through the personal testimony of his friends, colleagues, and coUaborators. There is real news, much of it anecdotal in the EUmann tradition, and there is a sense of the man that goes beyond historical fact. The section concludes with an interview with William K Robertson, the Book Editor of the Miami Herald, in 243 ELT: Volume 34:2,1991 which EUmann himself explains with characteristic clarity his ideas and philosophy on biographical writing. More than anything written about him, the excerpts from EUmann himself show his uncanny abihty to communicate in everyday language the ideas of a brilliant, egalitarian mind. In addition, the biographical reminiscences often—as in Ellworth Mason's recounting of EUmann's years as a Yale student, when they were all engaged in the effort to define modernism—are as profound a series of comments on American intellectual history as can be found. The critical sections of the book are divided first into two theoretical essays on modernism (by Christopher Butler and Bruce Johnson), then into ten general essays on aspects of modern writers and their predecessors: Frank Kermode on Northrop Frye and the Bible; Charles A. Huttar on Edgar Alan Poe's "Angels" traced through French hterature into modernism; DecÃ-an Kiberd on the feminism of Henry James; Charles Feidelson on the dynamics between history and fiction in James; S. P. Rosenbaum on Lytton Strachey and Bloomsbury's debt to the Victorians; Susan Dick's account of the relationship between Virginia WoolFs last short fiction and the letters which aUude to her impending suicide; A. Walton Litz's modern influence study among Ehot, Pound, and Laforgue; Carol H. CantreU's discussion of the affinities between Pound and WUliam Carlos Williams; Daniel J. Schneider on the influences on D. H. Lawrence's "Physical Rehgion"; and Denis Donoghue's exphcation of WaUace Stevens's "Notes of Mere Being." To begin the section on Irish criticism Joseph Ronsley writes on Denis Johnston's first play, The Old Lady Says "No!" Ronsley's contribution is followed by R. W. Desai—who borrows a Yeatsian...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 243-245
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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