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Studies in American Fiction123 Bassett, John. William Faulkner: An Annotated Checklist of Criticism. New York: David Lewis, 1972. 551 pp. Cloth: $18.50. In 1968, Hyatt Waggoner said that Faulkner studies would decline in the seventies. Well, the decade is half over, an' we ain't seed de last. What thepasthas produced, Bassett lists for us clearly and intelligently. One is disposed to agree with Maurice Beebe, who has called this thebest and most complete listing ofsecondary material, especially since it adds a dozen years of scholarship to the work of Hoffman and Vickery. James B. Meriwether, and others, have given us useful bibliographic studies of the primary materials, but Bassett's book is not properly a Faulkner bibliography but a "checklist of criticism." Most of the entries carry helpful annotations in which selected quotations from reviews illustrate representative comments. If the topic of a critical article is clear from its tide, however, no annotation appears in the entry. Bassett has been thorough, and has organized the material so the reader may use the book quickly and efficiently. Studies of individual novels include lists of contemporary reviews, reviews of British editions, critical articles, and there is a section on reviews of books about Faulkner. There is a good brief introduction, a list of doctoral dissertations (193 of them plus eight British theses), an appendix of items received too late to be included in the text, and an index of critics. The bibliographic entries are meticulously done and reliable. A word on this reviewer's methodology is apropos here: the accuracy of the entries was verified by the triedandtrue method, by having a graduate assistant spend a full semester checking them—which graduate assistant, by the way, has since gone to her reward (doctoralstudy at Marquette). Completeness in a work like Bassett's is almost impossible, whichhe concedes. Buthe is not pretentious when he suggests that all the major, along with much of the minor, commentary in English (the only omission is of criticism in foreign languages, though translated articles are included) on Faulkner's fiction is listed here, with some useful tools for separating one from the other. The book is highly recommended for all Americanists and libraries; it is a convenient aid for anyone especially interested in Faulkner. St. Bonaventure UniversityJames J. Martine Sealts, Merton M., Jr. The Early Lives of Melville: Nineteenth-Century Biographical Sketches and Their Authors. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1974. 280 pp. Cloth: $12.50. Some years ago a reviewer asked a question: Who owns Henry James? The answer was easily forthcoming: Leon Edel. Period. No other biographer has been so successfully associated with James as has Edel. More to the point, if that same question were asked about Herman Melville, the listing of a plurality of formidable names would be in order: Hennig Cohen, Harrison Hayford, Willard Thorp, Hershel Parker, Jay Leyda, and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. The last named is an old Melville hand. Professor Sealts, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is best known in the Melville circle for two commanding studies: Melville as Lecturer (1957) and Melville's Reading: A Check-List of Books Owned and 124Reviews Borrowed (1966). The formerestablishes Melville as Lyceumlecturer in mid-life; the latter grounds Melville in his reading, which is both eclectic and omnivorous. With this third major Melville text, Sealts firmly identifies himself as one of Melville's most durable and accomplished critics. Sealts' special concern here is in charting the course of Melville's early biographers. In doing so, Sealts readily displays his ability to move with assurance and authority among those numerous and long forgotten sketchers of Melville. His rationale is given in his prefatory remarks: "Sooner or later, the dedicated student of Melville will feel the need to go behind even the best of his secondary sources . . . and examine complete primary documents" (p. xi). Certainly, even the not-so-dedicated Melville student will applaud Sealts' skillful handling of this cumbersome material. In the first or introductory part of his book, Sealts discusses in much detail not only the documents themselves, but also the men who wrote them. In going into the lives of Melville's biographers Sealts is perhaps proving...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 123-125
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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