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135 low Book, April I896), one of his earlier fantasies, "'to'" her, as he said, and about her and himself (p. 94). Such material vividly suggests that Harland, having sought what one of his early characters calls *"a dose of strong rich wine'" (p. 21) in Jewish material and also in Latin-Quarter material, retreated not only from fear of personal failure but from fear of the democratic masses and perhaps the mortal world into wishfulfilling romance. The material suggests, too, that a few closely limited critical essays might yield useful demonstrations of the literary chemistry of Harland's development and of his period - particularly studies of early fiction in which what Harland called "romantic" and "realistic" interests are applied to Jewish material, and perhaps the late fiction, which achieves mere surface but surface with cinematic luminosity, space, and soft color. Professor Beckson's Henry Harland is a necessary book for any student of Harland or the Nineties period and is a welcome addition to the Makers of the Nineties Series being published by the Eighteen Nineties Society. Arizona State University Alan P. Johj-ison 3. Oscar Wilde's "Self-Creation" Philip K. Cohen. The Moral Vision of Oscar Wilde (Cranbury,NJi Fairleigh Dickinson UP; Lond» Associated UP, I978). Cloth« $16.50. The copyright page of this book indicates that it is based on Philip Cohen's dissertation of the same title. The book does have an unfortunate resemblance to many dissertations« its seven chapters , though they contain some interesting discussions of Wilde's works, do not sustain a book-length argument. The general thesis that Cohen intends to argue is that the canon of Wilde's work reveals a "process of self-creation. His oeuvre discloses a clearly evolving inner life with an integrity and sharpness of outline lacking in the bewildering combination of myths, deeds, and events that constitute the Wilde legend" (11). In Cohen's view, the continuing themes of Wilde's development are sin and salvation, guilt and forgiveness . Cohen traces Wilde's grappling with these concerns from the early The Duchess of Padua to De Profundis. which, to some extent , takes Cohen's thesis as its subject. A number of Wilde's own critical remarks would support Cohen's approach , but Cohen's handling of his thesis is not persuasive. His description of Wilde's development lacks the "sharpness of outline" that Cohen promises. In fact, when Cohen tries in his Preface to distinguish briefly the several stages in this development, he seems unable ¿to do so clearly. Moreover, Cohen appears uncertain about what his thesis commits him to. One could interpret his thesis as asserting either that Wilde's works are a self-sufficient record of his inner life or that the works illuminate what we know about Wilde's concerns at various points in his life. Cohen seems inclined toward the first interpretation, but repeatedly makes unconvincing claims that imply the second. He claims, for example, that Wilde begins "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime" "by presenting, through the experience of an introspective, intellectual protagonist , his own discovery of sexual preference, complicated by his 136 marriage" (105). He also asserts that, "At the end of the story Lord Arthur has a wife, two children, and a secret that must be kept from them and the rest of the world. Shortly before publication of 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime,' Constance [Wilde] gave birth to a second child, Cyril. In broad outline, the story corresponds closely to its author's life" (55)· These parallels between the story and Wilde's life do not support the thesis that the work reveals the life because they are parallels that only someone pressing the thesis would think to draw. Cohen takes one of the concerns of Wilde's inner life that he finds expressed in the works to be particularly important; indeed, it could be called the sub-thesis of the book. When Wilde was twelve, his nine year-old sister Isola died. Wilde grieved intensely for her, and on an envelope containing a lock of Isola's hair, he drew merging graves marked with his and her initials. Cohen believes that Wilde continued to have a subconscious incestuous...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 135-137
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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