In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 theoretical of the writings reproduced here. Taking Woolf s A Room of One's Own as a founding text in feminist socialist criticism, Marcus constructs a psychoanalytic-textual model of reading-as-desire that does what other models have not achieved: to place theories of female subjectivity and sexuality within political and social contexts. Using the Procne and Philomela myth, Marcus shows how the alphabet has been literally, and gruesomely, cut from the body of woman. Playing on the word "still" to mean continuing and silencing, Marcus analyzes how some forms of feminist practice have valorized women's victimization . Acutely aware of how critics have praised and pitied Woolf as victim, Marcus wrests a new alphabet for a feminist aesthetic, an alphabet which spells out the various ways we read-in-desire. In Art and Anger we see Jane Marcus thinking back through her own critical practices. She has been central, of course, to the development of feminist criticism, from its early concerns with images of women in work by men, the painstaking archival work that has led to the discovery and rediscovery of women's writings, and the patient (although often polemical) articulation of feminist theories of women's reading and writing practices. She remains one of a very few feminist critics who has worked on all these fronts, joining literature and history, theory and practice. Her work, therefore, stands the test of time, these essays reminding us not only where we have been in the course of fifteen years, but where we are today. Shari Benstock University of Miami History and the Era Sally Mitchell, ed. Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 1988. xxi + 986 pp. $125.00 Martin Jay. Fin-de-Siècle Socialism: and other Essays. New York: Routledge, 1988. vii + 216 pp. $39.95 WHEN PLANS FOR Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia were announced several years ago, I was mildly skeptical about the idea (while agreeing to contribute two essays). What might it produce but one more book of reference—familiarly dry—to add to a burgeoning number of tomes? What new insights, if any, would it provoke in an area already beginning to overload from scholarly input? As it turns out, the answers to these questions are almost uniformly positive. Victorian Britain is amusing and enlightening, a singular accomplish396 Book Reviews ment for a volume of this type. It is a solid contribution to nineteenth -century studies. There are more than 700 essays by 336 contributors in the book. Yet it expresses the "personal" voice of Sally Mitchell, its editor. Mitchell, a literary scholar, imposes an organic structure upon the volume—including good "coverage" and balance—and makes effective use of the strengths of her contributors. Accordingly, the subjects of the essays range from the predictably conventional (rugby football, sweatshops, the Suez Canal, higher education) to the pleasingly idiosyncratic (the language of flowers, water cures, dogs and dog shows, women's friendships); from straightforward biographies (Gladstone , Darwin, George Eliot, Richard Cobden, John Stuart Mill) to obscurely personal ones (Dora Greenwall, James Paget, Bracebridge Hemyng); from titillating (gothic fiction, dance music, gypsies, literary prizes and honors) to grave (class, industry, trade unions). Given Mitchell's interests, the emphasis on literature is not surprising. But art, women, the theatre and subjects of Jewish concern stand out as well. Politics, economics and religion seem a little underdone. Yet the quality of the contributions is almost uniformly high, the editing scrupulous, and for every dull patch of writing there are half a dozen essays that cast significant light on facets of Victorian and Edwardian culture. It is difficult to apportion honors in a volume as miscellaneous as this one. Mitchell herself provides many useful 500-word "fillers," including a fine piece on wood engraving, a subject that is central to the period because it links the illustrated book with pictorial journalism . N. Merrill Distad's analysis of "Food and Diet" is a succulent blend of economic and social history. While presenting horrifying (if familiar) material about the adulteration of tea and bread, those dietary staples of the poor, Distad makes the extravagant meals of prosperous Victorians and Edwardians almost tantalizing enough to...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 396-398
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.