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315 Leader in passages Dowling quotes. He might have reproduced examples of their art to far better advantage. Granted a book on Bloomsbury aesthetics may be enhanced by the visual works of Bloomsbury artists, but Powling includes several and leaves what may be perfectly sound reasons unexplained or undeveloped. The book also contains inaccuracies and inconsistencies. The wasp in A Passage to India has become a bee. Roger Fry gets credit for the cover of Kew Gardens and, by implication, other of Woolf's books. In fact, only some of the earliest editions of Kew Gardens had his paint-spattered paper for covers. Vanessa, Clive, and Quentin Bell are all occasionally called "Bell" and confused. Woolf, Powling says, ended her 1930 review of her sister's exhibition by denouncing the lack of any moral element in her painting; clearly the ending of Woolf's piece is far less conclusive. As for inconsistencies , Jacob of Jacob's Room is called "the subject of a painter," not an amateur painter himself like characters in Woolf's earlier novels, but two pages later he "registers the scene like an amateur still-life painter" (p. 128). Powling also uses the label "feminist" in every conceivable way: positively, pejoratively, and, neutrally. Applied to various critics and articles and to Woolf herself, the term never is defined. Bloomsbury Aesthetics and the N£v.£.ls_ o_f Forster and Woolf contains insightful moments, but Powling would have written a better book had he been more ambitious with details and perhaps less ambitious with the scope of this work. Piane F. Gillespie Washington State University 7. THE INCOMPARABLY IMAGINARY MAX Ira Grushow. The I mag inary Reminiscences of Sir Max Beerbohm . Athens, OH: Ohio Univ. Press, 1984. $28.95 Such diverse works of the 1880s as Landor's Imaginary Conversations, Bangs' Houseboat on the S tyx, and Pater's Imag inary Portraits all assembled sets of characters, some historically real and some fictional, who then became the writer's imaginary creations and produced his "imaginary reminiscences." This inherited form "Max" employed both as a writer and as a caricaturist, literally bringing himself as a persona into the story and often as a self-caricature into the drawing. Thus through his "Mirror of the Past" Max leapt, inserting himself into his Seven Men stories in various guises as a controlling persona and in his pictures quite literally controlling our perceptions of the world as 316 he chose we should see it. Ira Grushow's book skilfully assists us in following Max through his many mirrors. Max never wrote a word nor drew a line that was intended for the common, everyday reader or viewer. From his immediately successful beginning, so successful that—two years after his start in The Yellow Book—he "retired" and published his Works in 1896, he was ever an elitist. As his friend John Rothenstein remarks in his preface to the 1943 reprint of The Poet's Corner, "To Max the idea of addressing the mass of the people would hardly occur. . . . his appeal is to a limited public, but it is an influential and a fervently admiring public." Both Max's writings and his drawings assume on the part of their audience not only considerable knowledge of literature, politics, and art, but also an awareness of the ideals held by the various practitioners of these vocations, for often his barbs are aimed at what has not happened—i.e., at his subjects' failures to live up to their own talents or beliefs. Similarly, Grushow directs this study toward the narrow audience of the very serious student of Max's work. It is limited in other ways as well. It provides, for instance, only slight analytical comment on Max's only novel, Zuleika Pobson, which Grushow calls peripheral to Max's development. Nor does it devote time to his largest body of writing: his dramatic criticism. Its main critical concerns lead up to the Seven Men stories and the Rossetti and H is Circle caricatures, pursuing an analysis of Max's growth as writer and caricaturist toward these works, as he conceives and develops the notion of "the imaginary reminiscence." The "culmination of Beerbohm's quest...


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pp. 315-318
Launched on MUSE
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Will Be Archived 2021
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