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Book Reviews Lawrence of 1915 is anti-feminist, but because their feminism is still half-hearted." In addition to contributions by Cambridge editors like Worthen and Kinkead-Weekes, the collection includes essays by Barbara Hardy, Ian Clarke, Chong-wah Chung, H. M. Daleski, Bridget Pugh, Claude Sinzelle, and Tom Paulin. Many of these essays are in the spirit of pre-Cambridge understandings of Lawrence (for example, Daleski argues that Joyce and Lawrence are fundamentally different in their approach to language), but others do reflect the impact of the Cambridge edition. Hardy's discussion of "D. H. Lawrence's SelfConsciousness ," for example, draws on the Cambridge Mr Noon, a novel central to her consideration of the way in which Lawrence rejects, adapts to, and assimilates the literary tradition. L. D. Clark's essay not only concludes the collection but would also seem to have the last word. In "Making the Classic Contemporary : Lawrence's Pilgrimage Novels and American Romance," Clark presents a persuasive argument for rereading the later Lawrence in light of Lawrence's understanding of classic American literature. The essay demonstrates the breadth of Lawrence's reading ("The Plumed Serpent is . . . the outgrowth of years of absorption by the genre [of the American romance]"); it demonstrates the complexity of Lawrence's experimentation with form; it demonstrates, in other words, that many earlier understandings of Lawrence must and will be reappraised —with rich and interesting results for the reader. Lydia Blanchard Southwest Texas State University Kenner's Canon Hugh Kenner. A Sinking Island: The Modern English Writers. New York: Knopf, 1988. xii + 291 pp. $22.95 Hugh Kenner. Dublin's Joyce. 1956; repr. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987. xxiv + 372 pp. Paper $15.00 STUDENTS OF TWENTIETH-CENTURY LITERATURE should count their blessings for Hugh Kenner. It's not just that he's written so crucially about Pound, Joyce, Eliot, and Beckett. Let's face it, this is an age when most literary criticism has become gnarled and selfreferential and not a lot of fun to read. In contrast, though Kenner takes literature very seriously, he writes about it wittily. Kenner's your man if you're tired of theory and would like a little anecdote (and 391 ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 he's usually able to develop something substantial out of his anecdotes ). Instead of being theoretical, the recent Kenner is downright biographical. The problem is that Kenner, long since an academic superstar, now writes more self-indulgently and quirkily than ever before. The Kenner manner constantly announces that it can get away with anything. Where else can you find a respectable critic who refers to Eliot as Tom or the Possum, to Beckett as Sam, to Woolf as Virginia (as in "Virginia was a wonder")? The Kenner blend of erudition and playfulness is unique and instantly recognizable. Recently a lofty assertiveness has been added to the mix. A Sinking Island is the third volume of Kenner's survey of the "Three Provinces" of "International Modernism." In the two earlier books he guided the reader on idiosyncratic tours of modern American literature (A Homemade World, 1975) and modern Irish literature (A Colder Eye, 1983). The sinking island is England, once "the command post of the language," now "a headquarters for articulate Philistia." Kenner begins his tour in 1895, the year Conrad and Wells published their first novels and Hardy published his last. He brings his story up to the present, when "there's no longer," he says, "an English literature ." Kenner begins by defining the three reading publics that had emerged by the end of the nineteenth century. Since for many people reading had become something you did to kill time, Tit-Bits, "a weekly paper about half of which did not require concentration in more than thirty-second bursts," became a great success. The readers of Everyman 's Library liked "best of all an old author who has worn well, or a comparatively new author who has gained something like newspaper notoriety." A third, smaller audience bought the Yellow Book, seeking "something French, or decadent, or artistically self-conscious." This is the context "into which a new literature would attempt to insert itself—apparently without a great...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 391-394
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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