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Book Reviews shadows Tess with more conniving devilry than Venn in Eustacia's world. Even Jude's inability to comprehend fully Sue's battle with convention does not escape Morgan's critical eye. Circumscribed by conventional male attitudes, these women of tragedy follow one after the other as souls "in search of a self who are denied "autonomy, identity, purpose and power." Their strength is in their morally courageous attempts to break the bonds of convention and to be themselves. Their aim—which is Hardy's aim for them—is to have the same freedoms and privileges as men, for they are no different in their character traits. In fact, it is that "parity between the sexes [which] is Hardy's major platform." Rosemarie Morgan has written an important book, a major and indispensable work in the canon of Hardy criticism. Alice Patterson Furman University Beerbohm and Parody Lawrence Danson. Max Beerbohm and the Act of Writing. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. xii + 264 pp. £19.50 SEVERAL YEARS AGO I received a gracious letter from J. G. Riewald in acknowledgment of an offprint I had sent him of an article on one of the sketches in Seven Men. Ascribing virtues to me that were wholly unmerited, he wrote, "the study of Beerbohm's work at last seems to attain to full critical status. I envy you for having written this article !" Dizzied initially by this praise from the doyen of Beerbohm scholars, whose pioneering critical study and bibliography, Sir Max Beerbohm, Man and Writer, is still authoritative after thirty-seven years, I did not realize until fairly recently the full implication of his "envy." What I believe he meant was that the establishment of Beerbohm's credentials as a serious literary artist—one to be studied as well as savored—having been accomplished, the way was now justified for analyses and editions more expansive and imaginative. And indeed, after the appreciative and anecdotal portraits of the sixties by Behrman and Cecil, the seventies and eighties saw publication of those analyses and editions by Felstiner, Mix, Riewald, Grushow, Viscusi, and Hall. The book by Lawrence Danson now under discussion carries that work one step further. Resting confidently on the foundation of that scholarship, no longer required to apologize for breaking butterflies on wheels, Danson has written an elegant and excursive "long essay on Beerbohm's writing." 343 ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 Max Beerbohm and the Act of Writing impresses one immediately with its easy delivery. Informative but not pedantic, methodical but not plodding, digressive but not aimless, it is one of those books for which an index seems superfluous because one cannot imagine reading it as a reference work. It is a work of criticism conceived in a very old-fashioned way for people less interested in "getting a fix" on its subject than in hearing—there is a distinctly conversational tone to the book—some intelligent and penetrating talk about it. To this end the author introduces reproductions of Beerbohm's caricatures not as illuminations to offer distraction from his text but as true illustrations to clarify it. The chapters, dealing more or less with phases of Beerbohm 's literary career, do not chain themselves to the explication of individual works. Rather they develop striking expositions related to the larger issue of the function of writing as an assertion of personality . Thus, the chapter entitled "Illudings," ostensibly devoted to Max's career as a drama critic, restricts itself largely to his civilized contention with George Bernard Shaw, whom he succeeded as reviewer for the Saturday Review. An earlier chapter, "The Mimetic Marvel," examines Beerbohm's first published works, particularly The Happy Hypocrite, as parodie responses to Oscar Wilde. Developing his conception of Max as a rival to the obscure figures he memorializes in Seven Men, Danson avoids extended treatment of the better known sketches of Enoch Soames, Maltby and Braxton, and "Savonarola" Brown and concentrates instead on the more problematical, nonliterary James Pethel and A. V. Laider. For his chapter on that fascinating fragment and scenario, "The Mirror of the Past," which all who have studied agree is significant to Beerbohm's development as a writer, he offers "a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 343-345
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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