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266Reviews all the major issues of the new physics and metaphysics are exposited as Adams grapples with them. My objection, in other words, is that Nadeau has no concept of the history of modernism that will allow him to place bis subject writers in an ongoing context. So, while I would not deny the points he makes about Updike, Pynchon, Vonnegut, and the others, I would insist that they are merely the sophisticated proponents of practices that have already gone through naive and critical phases. The early modernists (Faulkner, Joyce, Eliot) by and large could not have studied the same science that Fowles, Pynchon, and DeLiIIo have, but they still responded, however naively, to the ontological and epistemological problems raised by modernist science. Thus, I would suggest that Nadeau be read but that he be read in the context of Henry Adams, William Faulkner, and even Robert Frost. Not all these are novelists, but they—and many others in the first decades of the twentieth century—saw and explored the problems for a conventional realism posed by modern, post-Einsteinean science. Northern Illinois UniversityJames M. Mellard Richardson, Thomas J., ed. The Grandissimes: Centennial Essays. Jackson : Univ. Press of Mississippi, 1981. 95 pp. Cloth: $10.00. George W. Cable, describing in a letter his idea of what a novel should attempt to do, gives us an apt metaphor for a collection of centennial essays on his best novel, The Grandissimes; it is, to borrow his expression, "a new path out at last." The seven essays and annotated bibliography covering criticism from 1880 through 1979 represent valuable new ways of seeing into a work which has, since its publication, refused to "lie still." In the generations since Cable became the first novelist northern or southern to dramatize the race question as clearly and absolutely a matter of conscience, few have agreed for long on how to evaluate The Grandissimes. It has been praised for its honesty, damned for its moralizing, applauded for its dense social texture, condemned for its confusing layers of plot, its unnecessarily intricate detail and profusion of dialects, its "too-muchness," as one early review called it. Local color, comedy of manners, melodrama, historical romance, tract, Kulturroman, grotesque—the critic's ability to apply any and all of these labels to The Grandissimes has not helped to establish its reputation. The novel's confusion of realms has led many to mourn Cable's sacrifice ofartistry both to the moral demands of his subject and to the shallow caprices of his audience. Yet that the book endures, warts and all, is a reality affirmed by the bibliography compiled for the collection by Anthony J. Adam and Sara McCaslin; more articles of worth have appeared with each passing decade to accompany assessments in four solid books: a definitive study of Cable (1956) and a collection of one hundred years of scholarship on his career, both by the late Arlin Turner, and two critical biographies (Philip Butcher's in 1962 and Louis D. Rubin's in 1969). In a recent review (SAF, 1981) of Turner's collection, Louis J. Budd perhaps voiced a common sentiment when he called The Grandissimes "a visa about ready to expire," yet that this judgment is premature is proven definitively by Thomas J. Richardson's collection of essays that deal exclusively with the novel. Not only do the seven critics represented have fresh, important insights to add, but each of them indicates how much more there is to be done with a novel that looks back to work of Hawthorne, holds its own with work of Twain and James, and anticipates works by important southern and black writers of the twentieth century. The direction of the collection is from overview of themes and traditions to analysis of specific matters of design. Richardson's introduction strikes the note of newness that the Studies in American Fiction267 other essays will sustain. Instead of focusing, as most critics have, on the unsatisfactory figure ofJoseph Frowenfeld as center ofconsciousness, Richardson emphasizes the unifying function of the white Honoré, whose position more closely resembles Cable's own "moment of balance between sympathy for and judgment on" his southern heritage and whose various...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 266-267
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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