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REVIEWS Bassett, John, ed. William Faulkner, The Critical Heritage. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975. 422 pp. Cloth: $28.00. Earlier volumes in this series have led readers to expect both quality and comprehensiveness. John Bassett's choice in the present volume was evidently for the former, but many readers will be perplexed because the collection ends with materials published in 1950. Consequently, the last twelve years ofFaulkner's career (and his last five novels) are not represented here. Such an arbitrary termination results partly, one supposes, from the ever-rising costs of production and reprinting (thepricewould also call attention to the dilemma) and partly, as Bassett suggests, from the mountain of criticism published after 1950, the year in which Faulkner received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Convenient as the 1950 date may have been, there is a more than implicit irony in omitting all criticism from the period of greatest recognition. The reader is left wondering what happened once reviewers thought of Faulkner as a Nobel prize winner: did their commentary change? Did fame bring understanding? The 1950 termination date undermines one strong justification for the existence of this kind of book, that readers will be able to compare the spectrum of reactions from career beginning to end. In Faulkner's case, such inclusion also gives one reviews of The Hamlet (1940), the first volume of Faulkner's Snopes trilogy; but omits any mention of the other two books, The Town and The Mansion. For reviews of those books, readers would have to search library stacks on their own. One partial solution to this latter problem might have been extending the four-page checklist of additional reviews past 1950 (it runs from 1931 to 1950). As it stands now, with everything except Bassett's introductory comments stoppingin 1950, a casual reader could well receive the impression that the 1950 Collected Stories was Faulkner's last book. Other than the problem of termination and a few typos, I find very little to criticize here. Bassett's relatively long introduction is concise, urbane, helpful. He writes from the strength of a thorough knowledge of both primary and secondary materials, and gives the reader some insight into the complex relationships between the work of the novelist and its public response. He also surveys the existing criticism judiciously. Of Malcolm Cowley's Introduction to The Portable Faulkner, Bassett claims, It was a watershed in Faulkner criticism. Cowley refined the myth-sagalegend thesis, assimilated earlier critical attitudes, and provided a thesis against which the formalists and other interpreters of the next two decades could play off their own readings (p. 27). Watershed though it may be, Bassett does not include the essay here, probablybecausehis more usual policy seems to be presenting reviews and essays from obscure or less accessible sources. Of the ninety-four pieces included, most of them have never been anthologized before; they are neither the automatic touchstones nor the watersheds of traditional Faulkner criticism. Bassett is to be praised for his selection. This is a most interesting collection to read through, and one does retain a sense of the social and aesthetic history as well as the vicissitudes in Faulkner's reception. Especially interesting are the reviews by Donald Davidson, Evelyn Scott, Rebecca West, Granville Hicks, Eudora Welty; making 238Reviews such lists is difficult, however, when the collection as a whole manages to maintain a high level of interest. Bassett's headnotes about each critic are brief but accurate. Michigan State UniversityLinda W. Wagner Block, Ann and Carolyn Riley, eds. Children's Literature Review: Excerpts from Reviews, Criticism, and Commentary on Books for Children and Young People. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1976. 201 pp. Cloth: $25.00. Commire, Anne. Something About the Author: Facts and Pictures about Contemporary Authors and Illustrators of Books forYoung People. Vol. 8. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1976. 221 pp. Cloth: $25.00. Nearly 10,000 new or reissued children's book titles were published last year, and the amount ofnew material for children has been increasing geometrically for the past decade. An editor for a national reviewing publication recently said that each week he reads between two and three hundred children's books. Experienced...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 237-238
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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