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Studies in American Fiction239 whose tales provided access to a dark and limitless world, the universe that a minor writer shields us from, rather than giving us knowledge of. When Hunt gets into detailed consideration of each of the novels and The Stories, to which he devotes separate chapters, his technique changes. The methodical and deliberate structure is very much present in the chapter on Cheever's first novel, The Wapshot Chronicle, which is divided into captioned sub-sections, following an introductory few pages: "The Plot," "Criticism," "A Reading." In succeeding chapters, this outline form is for the most part abandoned; the flow of thought quickens, and while the reader may not agree throughout with Hunt's interpretations, he is generally carried along in their flow. Hunt brings out clearly the controversial nature of Bullet Park and Falconer, suggesting the richness of the fabric, particularly in Falconer. The final novel, Oh What a Paradise It Seems, must have appeared when Hunt's manuscript was largely complete. While he gives it an orthodox reading, one that accords pretty much with the universally sympathetic reviews that appeared at the time—Cheever was then in the last months of his critical illness—Hunt seems to have taken things at too literal a level, ignoring what the story, the actions, amount to. In fact, perhaps the major trap in dealing with Cheever is that of taking his protagonists too sympathetically and uncritically. In his interviews he commonly spoke of them cheerily, as normal, decent folk. Yet he reached into the darker recesses of himself for them, and they are never simply synonymous with either us or the author. Perhaps the very fact that they are murderers, drug addicts, and emergent homosexuals makes a reader reluctant to judge them, but there invariably is far more to the matter than their roles as objects of social approbrium. This surface condition, in truth, is an almost winsome element that we must beware of; like die writer who created diem, they are con men, showing their surface ugliness privately to the reader and themselves so that he will love them, so that they can love themselves. But sympathy gets us nowhere. Behind all of them is an open door and a darkened room to be peered into. In short, Cheever is not primarily a social critic; we are not meant to look at his protagonists and criticize the world that surrounds them with its misunderstandings; we are meant to see each of them as a comic monster leading us into the shadows where he privately dwells. There, it seems to me, is the future direction of Cheever criticism. "The Hobgoblin Company of Love," a quotation from Leander's journal at the end of The Wapshot Chronicle, is taken as the sub-title of Hunt's book. The implications of the phrase indicate more than redeeming, Christian love, as achieved by freaky folk. Rather, it tells us that the world of Cheever's fiction is a place where love itself has its own definitions, nonsentimental ones, that the hobgoblins live deep in all of us. Cheever has fathered more than a few for future critics to search out. University of OttawaR. G. Collins Herzog, Kristin. Women, Ethnics, and Exotics: Images ofPower in MidNineteenth -Century American Fiction. Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1983. 254 pp. Cloth: $22.95 "What follows," Kristin Herzog explains at the beginning of her chapter on the Native American narrative, the epic of Dekanawida, "is meant to be an explorative essay that should raise questions about the possibilities of multi-ethnic perspectives in nineteenthcentury studies" (p. 167). Herzog's own belief in the importance of multicultural perspec- 240Reviews fives on America's literary past is admirably clear throughout Women, Ethnics, and Exotics. Divided into six chapters, the book groups Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Wells Brown, Martin R. Delany, and the epic Dekanawida. Herzog argues that the fiction represented here "is concerned with recovering the essential wholeness of human nature and human relations, with healing the split of mind and body, reason and emotion, white and nonwhite, civilized and primitive, man and woman. This happens," she explains, in various ways: by repudiating a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 239-241
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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