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31:2, BookReviews In large measure, the critics in Billy's anthology represent the best currently being thought-and-said about narrative theory as these ideas can be applied— sometimes slavishly, sometimes interestingly, nearly always predictably—to Conrad. All of which Makes William Stein's "TAe Secret Agent: The Agon(ie)s of the Word" so exceptional. Stein is, of course, best known for his investigations of Eastem motifs in Conrad's work (e.g. the lotus-posture in "Heart of Darkness"), but in this article he brings Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to bear on Conrad's text in ways that raise "close reading" to a new dimension: Under his hat, worn with a slight backward tilt, his hair had been carefully brushed into respectful sleekness. Tenniel's illustration of the Mad Hatter in Lewis CarroH's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland supplies Conrad with the model for Verloc's (and the other anarchists') dandyism, though not without his consciousness of the masculine fripperies in the fashionable circles in London. After explicating a number of passages under the general rubric of "Anarchy Among the Mad Hatters," Stein changes typeface and provides these general "Comments": THE FLOW OF ACTION IN THE SECRET AGENT ERODES IN MEANING UNDER THE INSIDIOUS COUNTERFLOW OF LANGUAGE CHORICALLY SPEAKING, THE HAT CROTCHET ALWAYS WORKS AT CROSS-PURPOSES, ABORTING THE CONTAINING INCIDENTS OFTHEIR SUSPENSE OR SERIOUSNESS. T. S. Eliot once remarked that all a critic needs is intelligence. I would add that a sense of playfulness is also helpful. I mention this because, with the exception of Stein's article, Critical Essays is longer on heavy-water theorizing than it is on either what Eliot would call "intellligence" or what Stein would recognize as playfulness. Conrad, of course, will survive this volume as he has its predecessors; meanwhile, Critical Essays on Joseph Conrad is worth considering as an emblem of these times and this place. Sanford Pinsker Franklin & Marshall College REJOINDER To Loraine Fletcher's Review of Robert Schweik's Norton Critical Edition of Far from the Madding Crowd, 30:4 (1987), 490-94. Loraine Fletcher's review of my Norton Critical Edition of Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd is a tissue of such misleading simplifications, distorted interpretations , and far-fetched attributions of motives for what I and other schol202 31:2, Book Reviews ars have written that I feel obliged to call attention to at least some of them. In one part, to which nearly half the space of the review is devoted, Fletcher complains that a manuscript passage describing the dead Fanny Robin and her baby—a passage that may have been deleted by Leslie Stephen—should have been provided in its entirety in my edition rather than the substantial illustrative quotation I provided. I stand by my editorial decision, and note that Fletcher 's comments on the passage depend entirely on textual data which I provided ; she adduced not a particle of textual information not made available in the edition itself. Fletcher is, of course, entitled to her opinion, but not entitled to try to support it by oversimplifying the information in the edition and by distorting the views and motives of scholars quoted there. First, by stating that the passage in question "was deleted by Leslie Stephen," Fletcher misrepresents as a fact what I and other scholars quoted in the edition qualify—because they have a careful concern for the difference—with words like presumably and possibly or characterize what they find as evidence of Stephen's censoring pencil. Similarly, she flatly asserts that "Hardy had no option but to acquiesce in Stephen's cuts" when, in fact, most of the cuts were almost certainly done by Hardy himself in response to Stephen's general suggestion, and when, in fact, Hardy obviously did have options—including the one he took of not omitting the baby entirely, despite what Stephen had written he would prefer. Second, Fletcher distorts the comments of scholars on the passage in which Hardy describes the dead Fanny and her baby. Simon Gatrell argued that Stephen probably would not have had stylistic objections to the passage because it is characteristic of Hardy's high style throughout the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 202-205
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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