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31:2, Book Reviews Ford Madox Ford used it; Nicholas Delbanco in Group Portraits, for instance, supplies a recent overview of the Ford/ Conrad relationship (1984, pp. 85-133). And it does not do to say simply that Conrad was a pessimist; such a statement is too simplistic. We may offset Wilson's conclusion about Conrad's "philosophy of pessimism" with Zdzislaw Najder's insight: "Conrad seems to be a prophet . But not a despairing prophet of helplessness in the face of unavoidable doom" ("Conrad in His Historical Perspective," ELT, 14:3 [1971], 166). And John Batchelor, in TAe Edwardian Novelist (1892), considers Conrad more accurately "a curious blend of pessimism and idealism, faith and skepticism" (184). We also wonder what Wilson meant by symbolism in Conrad. He explains that "Conrad used his narrative materials to construct symbolic patterns, forming a different one for each work, and the pattern was more important than the material which was molded to his intention" (6). This brief explanation should be contrasted with the major commentary by Ian Watt in Conrad in the Nineteenth Century (1979), where he notes simply: "In its simplest terms, symbolism involves a process whereby particular objects or events are attributed to some larger, nonliteral meaning" (181). At times, Wilson seems to stray from any particular meaning he may have had in mind. In one amusing sentence, he writes that "in 'The Secret Sharer,' Conrad personifies his 'double,' his irrational man, as the chief mate Leggatt who has committed murder and must escape prosecution from the sane, orderly world by swimming, by immersing himself in an element not ventured into by reasonable men unless they are dead' (italics added) (101-02), seeming to say that reasonable men will venture into the water only when they are dead. But let us cease from carping. Perhaps it is clear now that while this book attempts to afford us a view of the fascinating mythologies of Joseph Conrad, it leaves much to be desired. Bruce Teets Professor Emeritus Central Washington University THREE ON JAMES FROM UMI RESEARCH PRESS Lauren T. Cowdery. TAe Nouvelle of Henry James in Theory and Practice. Ann T. Margolis. Henry James and the Problem of Audience: An International Act. Susan Carlson. Women of Grace: James's Plays and the Comedy of Manners. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1986,1985, 1985. $39.95 Each The UMI Research Press is clearly moving into the forefront as a publisher of important work on Henry James. UMI has already offered us the immeasurably valuable TAe Museum World of Henry James (1986) by Adeline Tintner, and we can look forward to their publication, later this year, of three more rich sourcebooks by Tintner, TAe Book World of Henry James, The Pop World of Henry James, 242 31:2, Book Reviews and TAe Library of Henry James. But over the past few years UMI has published several other works which deserve our consideration. Much exciting work might still be done to help define the shape and texture of Henry James's ventures into various genres. In a discussion of the particular potentialities of the short tale versus the novel in James, Tzvetan Todorov has offered the suggestion that the public prefers long texts, "not because length is taken as a criterion of value, but because there is not time, in reading a short work, to forget it is only 'literature' and not 'life.'" We might assume, therefore, that certain features of the tale might be forbidden to the novel. James's numerous ghostly tales, for example, find virtually no counterpart in the novels—except perhaps when an Isabel Archer comprehends, symbolically , it would seem, the death of her cousin Ralph. Not always clearly different in fundamental outlines, short tales, long tales, nouvelles, novels, and theatrical pieces describe different interior universes, and we welcome any study which explores the features of these various landscapes. One therefore welcomes Lauren T. Cowdery's, TAe Nouvelle of Henry James in Theory and Practice . James's "blest nouvelle," influenced by Balzac, by Maupassant, by Turgenev, and many others, stands ambiguously between the crispness of the tales and the attenuation and evolution of the novels. Why did the form appeal...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 242-249
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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