In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

It is nearly impossible to convey all this in the usual printed format, and Philip Gardner has suggested as much as standard type setting allows. He has produced a handsome book, but one which only lightly conveys the waywardness and peculiarity of the original (facsimile editions are available in many libranes). Many of the editorial decisions are excellent—no annotations on the page, no footnote numbers either, but rather very clearly set out pagekeyed endnotes. These notes are exceptionally thorough-sometimes a bit too much so—creating a disproportion between the casualness of Forster's reference and the density of detail m the material Gardner has mastered. Nonetheless although some annotations seem included on the Everest principle, other allusions are ignored. Why, for example, provide information on ' Anonymity: An Enquiry" which is widely known, but none on "Dante" which is not? (Both references are made in the same entry.) There is also a tendency occasionally to correct Forster's judgments which is really not part of the editor's function (i.e. "it would be truer to say that it [Johnson's "Life of Savage"] doesn't contain much literary criticism than that it contains none" p. 284). But the tracking down of quotations, editions, nonce allusions is enormously useful, and providing information on the editions that Forster used in his reading is a genuine contribution to Forster scholarship. As for the main task, deciphering Forster's handwriting and providing an accurate transcription, Gardner has done a very careful and, I think, highly accurate job. There is bound to be some disagreement between any two decipherers. I think Gardner omits Forster's final "s" too often (p. 47: disappointments, personal relationships), and occasionally there is an outright error (p. 98: "a good prose style doesn't hurry [not "have"] to make its point"). Yet it is very easy to stumble up against an undecidable squiggle from Forster's pen, and overall, Gardner has maintained excellent balance. The volume is a pleasure to read and provides, as well, a suggestive context for all of Forster's writing from 1925 onward. Gardner's own stance toward his subject is perhaps a bit too reverent and yet patronizing (we can now see Forster "as a 'foolish fond old man' as well as a wise spokesman for liberal humanism"). And there is, too, an odd attempt to recover Forster for Christianity, in his emphasis on the "Easter Sunset' entry and then his dating the Introduction, Easter, 1982. But that kind of appropnation is what reading is all about; certainly Forster exercised a similar liberty and no where more fully than in his Commonplace Book. Judith Scherer Herz Concordia University 7. LETTERS OF OSCAR WILDE More Letters of Oscar Wilde, ed. Rupert Hart-Davis. New York: Vanguard Press, 1985. $14.95 Sir Rupert Hart-Davis presents in this volume all the significant correspondence of Oscar Wilde that has come to light since the publication of The Letters of Oscar Wilde in 1962. In the intervening twenty-three years over 444 two hundred letters by Wilde have made their appearance; in More Letters, HartDavis publishes 164, characterizing what remains unpublished as "trivial notes, always undated, often to unidentifiable persons." Hart-Davis notes, "As before, I have corrected Wilde's spelling and regularised his punctuation." Yet scholars may wish that in this matter he had let Wilde speak (or misspeak) for himself, just as it would have been better for editor Hart-Davis to have reproduced the omitted "trivial notes," perhaps in a separate appendix. He also supplies fuller texts to ten letters which appeared in the collected edition as well as seven letters to Wilde, two about him, and two records of conversations with him. More Letters is in fact designed to supplement both The Letters of Oscar Wilde and the 1979 Selected Letters (again edited by HartDavis ). It comes with a helpful editorial apparatus, including a biographical chronology of Wilde's life, notes on persons mentioned in the letters, and, when known, locations of manuscripts. Who will find More Letters of interest? Certainly the Wildean specialist. To be sure, the letters here throw no startling new light on Wilde's life and art; there is...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 444-447
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.