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ELT: Volume 33:2, 1990 in English who made explicit references to the existence of sexual drives in women as well as in men." Because of her contribution towards constructing "a specific sense of feminine identity in British literature," she should be regarded as representing an earlier phase of that "female modernism" that is often associated with Dorothy Richardson . This study does not entirely fulfill the promise of its rather sensational title and sub-title. Bj0rhovde offers meager evidence for the theory that these four writers "consciously undermined" the prevailing conventions of Victorian fiction and provides no compelling definition of the "crisis" from which she implies the novel suffered in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Further, the "touchstones" that the author applies are not always reliable: are ambiguous closure, multiple narration and alternating levels of discourse inventions of the 1880s and 1890s? (Consider the alternative or "double" endings to Great Expectations and The Return of the Native, the dual narration of Bleak House and the alternating levels of discourse of Daniel Deronda, for example.) Again, is "authorial vacillation" not, indeed, more typically Victorian than it is modern? There is also an unevenness in Bj0rhovde's application of modernist criteria: three of the four writers are innovators because they broke away from the conventions of fictional realism; Margaret Harkness, however, is to be viewed as rebellious in her doctrinaire adherence to Naturalistic principles. It is doubtful whether the literary reputations of all four writers will be revived by this study. Margaret Harkness ("a footnote in the history of literature") has yet to make her way into the Oxford Companion to English Literature, while George Egerton rates only a few lines in Margaret Drabble's 1985 "New Edition" of that work. However , the two novelists whose stature will benefit from this study are Olive Schreiner and Sarah Grand. Bj0rhovde makes a strong case for their inclusion in the canon. Lloyd Siemens University of Winnipeg Modernism and Feminine Fatalism Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. TVo Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century. Sexchanges. Vol. 2. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. xvii + 455 pp. $29.95 228 Book Reviews IN THE AFTERMATH of the "war of the words"—those years between the fin de siècle, the end of World War I, and into the 1930s —how did fundamentally changed and changing ideas about gender roles effect the attitudes and lives of women? In Sexchanges, the second volume of their three-volume No Man's Land, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar suggest that these early transitions meant not so much the dawning of a more egalitarian world as the creation of a metaphorical no woman's land and a grand stalemate which has not yet seen its end. Focusing on the literature and history of the period, they present significant insights into the complex socio-psychological forces that impacted not only upon women but also upon men, leaving a literary (if not literal) landscape littered with the bodies of women, forces which led Edith Wharton to comment that "life is the saddest thing there is, next to death." Beginning, appropriately, with the male psyche and the construct of its projected anima, the femme fatale, Gilbert and Gubar explore a thread of male desperation and female despair which results in a regrettable stand-off between the genders. Masculine anxieties relative to the ascendancy of an autonomous New Woman as well as those associated with imperialistic decline and a fear of the "otherness " of subjected peoples contrasts ironically with feminine doubts about the very possibility of female autonomy. Through close examinations of Rider Haggard's She and Olive Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm, Modernism, for women at least, becomes overwhelmingly synonymous with Fatalism. While Lyndall, Schreiner's "prototypical portrait of the New Woman," courageously questions and redefines traditional father-centered religion, ideals of morality, the secondariness of women, and the tradition of patrilineage itself, she does so only against a backdrop of male impotency. In her world, men are weakened and rendered ineffectual by the "sexual parasitism" of women, the one inevitable ism of social feminization to which Lyndall so fatalistically acquiesces. Lyndall...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 228-232
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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