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Book Reviews value of the earlier and later work." Carl J. Weber's Hardy of Wessex I His Life and Literary Career, "now largely superseded" by Gittings and Millgate, "is still a readable and informative, if slightly pious, account of H's career." Some studies are called "combative" or "provocative ," alerting us to unconventional points of view, and though individual entries are seldom longer than 100 words, we quickly enough learn why or in what manner authors so described are departing from the accepted wisdom. Draper and Ray seem to prize practical criticism above several other kinds (there is a salutary dislike of turgid, abstract, and pretentious writing, and Heaven knows that Hardy has attracted his share of second-rate minds), but they also are generous users of such words as "persuasive," "excellent," "fascinating ," and "astute." Even when they disagree with the point of view in the work being described, they give full credit to the bracing qualities of a good mind fully engaged, as when L. R. Leavis's article, "The Late Nineteenth Century Novel and the Change Towards the Sexual— Gissing, Hardy and Lawrence" (1985), is characterized as a "highly readable and denigrating view of H as a literary vulgarizer, especially in Jude, which fails as a feminist or social novel"; and Arthur Mizener 's "Jude the Obscure as a Tragedy" (1940) is summarized as an autobiographical reading that "rests on questionable assumptions about tragedy but is provocative and lively." I suspect that the authors are suspicious of symbolic readings of Hardy's texts, if only because they shy away from value judgments whenever one turns up. The flat word "interesting" doesn't tell us much ("interesting" to whom? in what way?). And occasional notes on how Hardy critics rebut or dynamite each other (Philip Larkin on Roy Morrell, Roy Morrell on Philip Larkin) might well be shortened in favor of longer critiques of genuinely important publications. Hardy scholars will welcome this bibliography as a guide to an increasingly dense thicket, and students at all levels will be delighted to learn of its existence. Harold Orel University of Kansas Woolf and Academic Folklore Louise DeSalvo. Virginia Woolf: The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Her Life and Work. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989. 404 pp. $22.95. IF THE STYLE IS THE MAN, too often the myth is the woman. This is especially true if the woman is a writer with a style of her own—a 223 ELT: Volume 33:2, 1990 genius and energy strong enough to command an invitation to the canon. In such predominately male company women, like guests or newcomers, often wear nametags, mythic passwords, that render their presence legitimate—domestic writer, local colorist, madwoman. Thus safely labelled, the woman author gains entrance to anthologies, survey courses, and even seminars. Virginia Woolf, because of her undeniable stature as a writer, is still occasionally made deniable on other grounds—for instance, because she was a feminist or because she was "frigid" or "mad." Louise DeSalvo's important and thorough study revisits the madness myth and vanquishes it. In Virginia Woolf: The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Her Life and Work, DeSalvo completely de-mystifies and de-glamorizes the often solemn academic folklore that has accumulated around Woolfs emotional problems. Woolf suffered from depression, DeSalvo argues, because this gifted artist was severely neglected as a child and was abused sexually, not once, but often and year after year. Woolfs readers and scholars have known about the sexual abuse, and the evidence of the neglect is implicit in the fiction and the letters. DeSalvo's inspired achievement, however, is to foreground the extensive and poignant documentation so that Woolfs courage in response to her own victimization emerges very clearly. DeSalvo examines published and unpublished materials, not only Woolfs own writings, but those of her family; she looks also at documentation on Victorian child-rearing practices. Drawing upon recent studies that identify the personality characteristics typical of incest survivors, DeSalvo gives us a book which is, as she points out, neither a biography strictly nor a study of Woolfs fiction. It is instead a portrait of a writer who creatively defined her own voice within a household...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 223-225
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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