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ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 fiction." This radical or "constitutional contradiction" blurs Conrad's vision and distorts his meaning. In "Silver and Silence: Dependent Currencies in Nostromo" (1985), Aaron Fogel shows how the rhythm or "chiming" in this novel is that of '"silver and silence.'" One is an economic currency, the other a dialogical currency. For Fogel, Conrad is decisively modernist, refusing to mediate between extremes and rejecting the English "moral imagination" he detected in nineteenthcentury historical novels. Conrad is one of us not because he has a romantic or modern sensibility but because he forces us to confront our instinctual needs. He's a three-dimensional figure, making us feel, see, and dream along with his characters. His lifelong fascination with the demands of instinctual needs and dreams is revealing. We know the decisive influence of Flaubert, Maupassant, Pater, Darwin, Huxley, and other nineteenth-century figures on Conrad; but no one, so far as I know, has completely explained the resemblance between Conrad and the decisive twentieth-century figure: Freud. In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud broods on the loss of individuality in our century: "This replacement of the power of the individual by the power of a community constitutes the decisive step of civilization." Isn't Conrad's fiction an affirmation of Freud's anxiety? Conrad enables us to grasp the relative meaning of our short day of sun and frost by portraying our needs and dreams in his fiction. Jay B. Losey Baylor University The Sitwells in Perspective G. A. Cevasco. The Sitwells: Edith, Osbert, and Sacheverell. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987. 176 pp. $19.95 GREAT BRITAIN SEEMS TO HAVE an exceptionably hospitable climate for producing writing families, and the three Sitwells certainly are examples of this national fecundity. The trio, once described by Frank Swinnerton as being "enfants terribles," continued for some to be "terribles" long after they were "enfants." Few critics were (or are) neutral regarding their works. Partisans, perhaps, rate them too highly, while detractors rival each other in finding stinging words of denigration. Sir George and Lady Sitwell were the parents of Edith (18871964 ), who as a child felt unloved and neglected because she had not been the desired male heir; Osbert (1892-1969); and Sacheverell 374 Book Reviews (1897-1988). Each of the boys in time succeeded to the baronetcy, Osbert in 1934 on the death of his father, and Sacheverell twenty-five years later. They were reared at Renishaw Hall, the family estate in Derbyshire, in an aristocratic tradition of wealth, leisure and culture, which they found stifling to their literary aspirations. Of the numerous English writing families few have been as prolific as the Sitwell triumvirate. During a more than sixty year period the three produced nearly two hundred volumes of poetry, fiction, and works on music, art and literature. In addition there were contributions of almost a thousand essays, articles, translations and musical settings to periodicals and books edited by others. Their works span the major literary genres—poetry, fiction, art history, criticism, biography and autobiography—a productivity scarcely matched by any other British literary family. Professor Cevasco notes that they were grouped together by their contemporaries as "literary eccentrics" and regarded as "paladins of English literature," adding that they were "widely admired and narrowly detested" and although "frequently denounced they could not be ignored." Early on they had determined to become "luminaries of literature " and as this study amply demonstrates, "they achieved their goal," quickly becoming a cult of three, anti-philistine in direction, achieving celebrity with clowning and self-exhibitionism. This image hid their fundamental seriousness and sadness, a fact noted by Samuel Chew when he summed up their careers in A Literary History of England: "A reading of their prose confirms the impression made by their poetry that they delight in a sophisticated culture, their fastidious eclecticism, and frivolousness are grounded upon despair of the modern world. The curtain of their persiflage muffles this note but does not render it inaudible." In spite of (or perhaps because of) the controversies that swirled about them most of their creative lives and the frequently adverse attention their writings received, they had few imitators. Certainly no identifiable Sitwell school...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 374-377
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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