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Book Reviews eccentrics, a life of Queen Victoria, and two books devoted to Elizabeth I, with whom she felt a great empathy because of their similar childhoods of feeling unwanted and unloved. This empathy seems to have carried over to the author and proof reader of this book, for under 1964 in the Chronology it says "Elizabeth dies on 9 December," when in fact it was Edith who died that day. Osbert published six volumes of poetry and well received short stories and novels, but is chiefly remembered for his nonfiction, including many essays, a great deal of literary criticism (especially his study of Dickens), and his five volumes of autobiography. The final volume, Nobel Essences: A Book of Characters, gives his reminiscences of several ELT period authors, including Reginald Turner, Max Beerbohm , Robert Ross, Edmund Gosse, and Arnold Bennett. As recently as 1982 Sacheverell published his eighth volume of poetry, much of which "reveals the prosodie displays of a technician rather [than] the qualities of the supreme poet," according to Professor Cevasco. On a more positive side, his writings on baroque art are considered milestones in the study of this previously neglected era and are deemed essential reference books. His specialized studies, which include interpretive lives of Mozart, Liszt, and Scarlatti, as well as his numerous books of travel emphasize his pioneering enthusiasm for the byways of culture. Judging by the extensive lists of works by the Sitwells in the current Books in Print, it appears that they maintain an appreciative audience. Professor Cevasco concludes that while it is difficult to forecast what their reputation will be in the future, "the odds are they will not be forgotten." In an extremely short space [142 pages] he has compressed an astounding amount of commentary about these three creative and innovative writers, and his study is certainly a must for those interested in English literature in the middle years of the twentieth century. Edwin Gilcher Cherry Plain, New York Ulysses, the Comic Tradition, and Common Sense Zack Bowen. Ulysses as a Comic Novel. Syracuse: University of Syracuse Press, 1989. xv + 150 pp. $22.95 WITH A FEW NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS (Carl Jung, for example) most early readers of Ulysses agreed that the novel was comic—indeed, often downright funny—however much they may have been mystified 377 ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 by much of Joyce's dazzling experimentation. Since then, several generations of professional Joyceans have demystified, even domesticated , many of these difficulties, but in the process they have also sacrificed the forest on behalf of treatises on every tree. The result has metamorphosed the novel into a seemingly endless series of debates about the book's dilemmas, ambiguities, and dark existential problems. In short, the Ulysses that had once been regarded as a hilarious celebration of life now strikes many Joyceans as so grim, so utterly hopeless that the words "Abandon hope all ye who enter here" ought to be scrawled across its title page. Bowen's study means to reverse this gloomy direction by making a case for Ulysses as both formed by and responding to literature's comic traditions. At first glance, nothing could appear easier—or, indeed, more welcome—but those in the know know better. Like beauty, comedy is in the eye of the beholder. At least that is what we have been taught. Tragedy, on the other hand, is in the definition laid down by Aristotle's Poetics. Therein lies the rub, for as Bowen points out: "If ... I thought that comedy were entirely in the eye of the beholder, there would have been little profit in writing a book such as this. Sometimes a joke must be explained to be regarded as funny, and the spontaneity of the humor lost in the explication is never recaptured. That is the risk run here." Bowen begins his argument by invoking Suzanne K. Langer's "The Comic Rhythm" (from Form and Feeling, 1953) which sees comedy as "reflecting a basic biological pattern of life, or life rhythm, which when disrupted tries to restore itself and the natural balance of existence." Thus, a tree growing taller in the shade or a fish assuming new functions with its other...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 377-380
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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