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31:2, Book Reviews Garnett's Relics of Shelley, a book Shaw kept from his Dublin days, is not findable under Shelley. When Shaw refers to his own plays before they are named, or without name, they also tend to escape the index. Thus his first reference to his unnamed first play Widowers' Houses (33) is ignored, as are later entries on correcting copy of the third act and on offering the maid's part to an unwilling actress as the play approached its first production. Similarly, looking up TAe Philanderer will not lead to Shaw's account of having "hit on the third act of my new play" on a bus to Shepherds Bush, after being unhappily stumped for its subject (937), nor to the scene that furnished the subject for his first act, Jenny Patterson's invasion of Florence Farr's home during a late tête à tête with Shaw (937). A final example: if I were interested in Shaw's early contacts with the Salvation Army, I would find half a dozen interesting entries in the diaries and notes. They would include Frank Smith, Fabian and "organizer of the Social Wing of the Salvation Army" (670); a meeting on the anti-Salvationist riots at Eastbourne (763); and Shaw's visit to "the Booth Colony at Benfleet," an experimental agricultural community meant as an answer to urban misery that had a lot to do with Major Barbara (809-10). But alas, while there is an index entry for Frank Smith, who is new to me, and an entry for William Booth, there is no listing for the Salvation Army. I fear that when I come back to these diaries, as I will, the only way I will be reasonably sure of gathering all that they have to offer on any particular subject is by again reading the nearly 1200 pages through. Martin Meisel Columbia University YEATS AND SOME CONTEMPORARIES Ian Fletcher. W. B. Yeats and His Contemporaries. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987. $27.50 The title of Ian Fletcher's book seems something of a misnomer, but the reason may at least partly be that all of the volume does not seem to be here. The dust jacket mentions several chapters not included: The Poetry of John Davidson , The Letters of Ernest Dowson, Legends and Letters of Aubrey Beardsley, W. S. Gilbert and the Women, Rider Haggard's African Novels, Charles Rennie Mackintosh , and possibly several more—it is difficult to tell from the punctuation. Had these essays been included, Fletcher's title would have more claim to aptness and his book to excellence. As it stands, the volume seems distinctly a mixed batch of curate's eggs, including a duck egg or two, an ostrich egg, and possibly a couple from the dodo. However, curate's eggs are good in parts, and Fletcher's good parts are admirable. His strength as a critic is that he spreads his net much more widely than is usual in the bulk of books about a particular author. A good 218 31:2, Book Reviews deal of recent criticism about Yeats—or Joyce or Beckett—seems written by people thoroughly immersed in the work of the master, but with very little sense of his contemporaries or his milieu. Fletcher, however, has read comprehensively and closely, and his explorations have taken him not merely into the dusty volumes of neglected poets, but also into social history, myth, art and architecture; and he has emerged with a wealth of information. His chapter, for instance, on the suburb of Bedford Park, the "Aesthete's Elysium" where J. B. Yeats lived with his family, superbly fills in the background of a picture which has only been most sketchily indicated before. The same point can be made of his study of that extraordinary anachronism of the Jacobite societies of the 1890s, although their relevance to W. B Yeats is pretty tangential. The study of the eccentric artist and poet Althea Gyles is a fine and just characterization which brings together the basic facts and combines them with intelligent comment on her designs for Yeats's books and provides also a little critical anthology...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 218-220
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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