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

Reviews77 creative use of the other's personality and ideas; and Ruth D. Johnston offers a feminist reading of The Professor. The collection concludes with two useful bibliographical surveys, and it is significant that the account of a single year's Dickensian scholarship (1987) occupies considerably more space than that of seven years of Bronte studies (1981-7). There may be some who will respond less enthusiastically than Kathleen Blake to Hillis Miller's observation that Wuthering Heights possesses "an inexhaustible power to call forth commentary and more commentary," but both she and George J. Worth chart their respective bibliographical territories with clarity and comprehensiveness. Worth's observation that Nicholas Nickleby "was not the focus of any 1987 critical study that I was able to discover" has no doubt already set scholars reaching for their pens or their word-processors. All in all, this latest Annual lives up to the high standard of the series and bears witness to the wide range of approaches now available to the student of Victorian fiction. Norman Page University ofNottingham Gaye Tuchman, with Nina E. Fortin. Edging Women Out: Victorian Novelists, Publhhers, and Social Change. London: Routledge; and New Haven: Yale UP, 1989. xvii + 266. £25.00 (cloth); £8.99 (paper). Sociologist Gaye Tuchman has drawn upon studies of work and gender, cultural sociology and literary criticism to trace the shifting gender distribution in the occupation of novel writing between 1840 and 1917. From evidence in the British Library's Macmillan archive, the Dictionary ofNationalBiography, and reviews in contemporary periodicals, she argues that before 1840 a majority of English novelists may have been women. After this date, rising literacy, advances in printing technology and new methods of book distribution enhanced both the prestige and monetary rewards of writing novels. Quick to take advantage of the novel's improved status, men increasingly turned their pens to fiction, eventually "edging women out" of what would become one of the most acclaimed forms of literary endeavour: the high-culture novel. 78Victorian Review Tuchman associates this edging-out process with—to use her term—"the empty field phenomenon." Because men more than women had "the power to define their own and others' occupational experience," some might well have considered the competition of women insignificant; to such men a markedly female endeavour like novel writing would have seemed to be "unoccupied terrain ripe for the taking" (4-5). If the Macmillan archive is representative, then the empty field phenomenon developed in three stages. 1840 and 1879 spanned men's initial "invasion" of novel writing. At this time women submitted more novels than did men and were more likely to have their work accepted for publication. Between 1880 and 1899 those with literary authority, such as critics and publishers' readers, "redefined" the high-culture novel according to a male standard of social and psychological realism. Macmillan now received more novels from men than from women but was equally likely to publish both. From the turn of the twentieth century to 1917 men secured their hold on the high-culture novel. This was "the period of institutionalization," and men who submitted their novels to Macmillan enjoyed a higher acceptance rate than women. In short, men by this time had "successfully invaded" (64). In elaborating the empty field phenomenon and its chronology, Tuchman demonstrates considerable innovativeness in both her quantitative analyses and qualitative interpretation of conventional historical sources. She also does a creditable job of handling the complex and by no means clear-cut distinction between the popular and the highculture novel, recognizing that sometimes—as in the case of Thackeray, for example—an author's work might sell widely, yet also receive critical acclaim. Not least of all, Tuchman provides us with a good deal of useful detail on such subjects as the Victorian circulating library, Macmillan's contracts with novelists (which generally favoured men), and the ways in which a predominantly male cultural elite created a "critical double standard"—a canon which credited women with the ability to write light, romantic novels for a popular audience, but which simultaneously pronounced "the female mind" incapable of producing the kind of realistic, serious, "manly" novel attractive to "people with taste." This then...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 77-79
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.