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30:4, Reviews Loizeaux's method is to analyze theory first and practice after and in a study where the chronology is refined this could be dangerous. The tentative or experimental tends to be subdued though it may be conceded that the continuity of Yeats's general ideas is a more important element in his career. Finally, we may return to the illustrations. It is sad that in so excellent a book these should be so bad: for the most part dark and blurred. In the case of "Lapis Lazuli" where reading of small details in the art object is crucial, it is disastrous. Ian Fletcher Arizona State University HENRY HANDEL RICHARDSON Karen McLeod. Henry Handel Richardson: A Critical Study. London: Cambridge University Press, 1985. $44.50 Karen McLeod's study is, by her admission, polemical. She wants to convince us that the author of Maurice Guest (1908), The Getting of Wisdom (1910), and The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney (1930) is "among the handful of great writers of this century" (96) and a novelist of classic proportions whose work "deserves to be included as a matter of course in any discussion of the fiction of the period" (242). She ranks Henry Handel Richardson above Virginia Woolf and Arnold Bennett and asserts that Richardson's "best work is better than either" (242). These are strong assertions about a writer who, despite recent Virago and Penguin reissues of her works, is still little known to English and American audiences. But McLeod tackles this ambitious task with confidence and serious intent. She firmly believes "we ought to rejoice in being able to claim such a fine and central writer as part of our heritage" (x). Henry Handel Richardson (pseudonym for Ethel Florence Richardson Robertson) is already considered a major novelist in Australia. Her works, particularly The Getting of Wisdom and The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney, have received serious and respectful attention by Australian scholars, Dorothy Green's impressive study Ulysses Bound (1973) being the most influential, but McLeod wants to bring Richardson to the attention of a larger audience. The book is not merely polemic. She articulates two other purposes: "to write a critical study of a novelist, and to define her in her cultural setting and speculate about its relationship to English literary tradition" (x). Her chapter divisions reflect these latter goals. The opening biographical chapter is important, for Richardson did draw on family history and childhood experiences in Australia when plotting her novels. Of more interest, however, is the one tracing her intellectual development after moving to Germany. A music student in Leipzig during the 1890s, Richardson was exposed to intellectual movements which affected her permanently. McLeod first describes the stimulating musical world of Leipzig, with its Wagnerian cult and youthful spirit, and 481 30:4, Reviews then traces Richardson's reading in Nietzsche, Jacobsen, Schopenhauer, Doestoevsky , and Bjomson. According to McLeod, these influences, particularly that of Nietzsche, pervade Richardson's works and make her more European than English . With this intellectual framework clarified, McLeod dedicates the bulk of her study to analyses of Richardson's novels, four chapters to The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney, and one each to Maurice Guest, The Getting of Wisdom, and The Young Cosima. One chapter is dedicated to her short stories, but Richardson excelled as a novelist, not as a writer of short fiction; thus, the chapter exists pro forma, simply to insure a comprehensive treatment of Richardson's canon. In aU the novels except The Young Cosima, an admitted failure, McLeod sees originaUty and greatness. In Maurice Guest, which is a disturbingly intense, dark story of an EngUsh music student caught in an obsessive love affair which eventually leads him to suicide, McLeod sees Maurice as the embodiment of the moral and psychological speculations resulting from Richardson's reading in Nietzsche and Jacobsen. She views Richardson's analysis of the destructive relationship between Maurice and Louise as relentless and "extraordinary" and maintains "it is difficult to think of anything comparable in our literature" (56). In her discussion of The Getting of Wisdom, which she thinks "hovers between being a minor tour-de-force and a minor masterpiece," McLeod emphasizes the philosophical υηαÎμφίηιώ^β which distinguish it...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 481-483
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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