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30:4, Reviews Madding Crowd. In fact it will be used mainly in colleges and universities at undergraduate and graduate levels, areas in which Norton is gradually cornering the market. Given that teaching literature has frequently become a matter of fostering deference for the diligent expert in the "field," it is simply, as a volume, not good enough. One's heart sinks at the thought of the innumerable mid-terms and final exams in which it wül be discovered, to everybody's satisfaction , that Stephen's emendations were aesthetic rather than Gmndian, or that he might as well have objected to the whole novel. Professor Schweik's rigour over accurate accidentals is not matched by rigorous proofing, and the many misprints range from the felicitous Dorsetshire "voilets" to the very annoying "Gerbert, Helmut E." Loraine Fletcher Arizona State University VIRGINIA WOOLF Alex Zwerdling. Virginia Woolf and the Real World. Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1986. $24.95 That apparently innocent conjunction "and" may be the most problematic term in Alex ZwerdUng's study, Virginia Woolf and the Real World. Woolf, as Zwerdling observes, has survived the benign appreciation that once relegated her to the rank of interesting but minor romancers whose fabrications, like the postprandial reveries of Lady Bruton in Mrs. Dalloway, were connected to the world of others by the thinnest of threads. With the publication of her diaries, memoirs, and letters, Woolf now appears to us as a complex Uterary personality , a "Proteus" who presents different aspects to her reader—the experimental modemist, the mystic, the committed feminist and radical pacifist. Zwerdling dismisses the possibility entertained in Orlando, that there might exist a key self who controls and amalgamates aU the various selves Woolf had it in her to be, just as he neglects to mention that Proteus, if tackled with determination, will re-assume his "true" appearance. ZwerdUng prefers to single out for emphasis Woolf's "strong interest in realism, history and the social matrix," to isolate the manner in which Woolf speaks of and to the real world. He would assess Woolf's achievements in terms of the dialogue that ensued, one that embraced questions on the central topics of modem society: issues of class (the role of the intelligentsia), money, feminism and pacifism. In ZwerdUng's analysis, Woolf s responses to these issues were conditioned by those "invisible presences" that Woolf maintained comprise "our consciousness of other groups impinging upon ourselves; public opinions; what other people say and think; all those magnets which attract us this way to be like that, or repel us the other and make us different from that." What might be the relation between consciousness and the invisible presences that form and deform it, propel it this way and that, is what ZwerdUng investigates. 494 30:4, Reviews To that purpose ZwerdUng examines the dominant forces in Woolf s familial and cultural past that attracted Woolf to be "like that"—that is, socially-minded and reformist in her deepest sympathies: Woolf's grandfather, he recaUs, had framed the law aboUshing slavery in the British Empire; Woolf's mother was a dedicated nurse and pubUshed Notes from Sick Rooms, to advise others seriously interested in that vocation. Woolf herself was at the height of her powers when she became an accomplished pamphleteer for pacifist and feminist concerns. ZwerdUng argues that Woolf's contribution to these causes was both substantive and tactical. Especially interesting is his claim that her forswearing of anger as a polemical emotion was prompted by political as much as Uterary considerations, a strategy devised in reaction to the debate over tactics that divided the "concessive" from the miUtant suffragists. Indeed, nothing is finer-toned than ZwerdUng's account of how an independent- and skepticallyminded woman of letters was a reformist as well as a satirist of the social order. "... a writer who teaches for several years at an evening college for working-class men and women, who marries a Fabian socialist and attends Labour Party conferences, who spends time working for the Adult Suffrage movement, who presides at meetings of the Women's Cooperative Guild held in her own house, and who writes significant tracts for...


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pp. 494-496
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Will Be Archived 2021
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