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Reviews79 centuries. Tuchman acknowledges this lack, shifting uneasily between the firm assertion that before 1840 "most English novelists were women" (1) and a hesitant "it seems likely" that "at least half were women (45). The reader cannot help but share her unease. Additionally, throughout what she offers as "historical analysis," Tuchman relentlessly tries her readers' patience with intrusive modern examples and tedious explanations about sources and research methods. Most unforgivably, she never uses plain language when jargon can be mustered. The study's 1840 starting date is a "reified benchmark" (7); standard sources like the DNB are "data sets" (17); and the late nineteenth-century critical view that women were incapable of producing great modern novels is "the phase of dissonant construction" (187). Such solecisms do small justice to the book's main argument, which is an important one and deserves the force of clarity. As Tuchman is at pains to express—and her readers to apprehend—the unequal power relations of gender were central to the construction of a "universal" cultural standard, one which paradoxically excluded women from some kinds of literary achievement—notably, the Victorian highculture novel. Patricia Anderson London, England Dave Russell. Popular Music in England: 1840-1914, A Social History. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP, 1987. xiv + 304. $35.00 CDN (cloth). Books on Victorian popular music abound, the vast majority collections of anecdotal chit-chat intended to evoke a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era—a time before movies, cars, and gramophone records, when the term "popular music" had an entirely different collection of associations from those associated with the present emanations from Nashville (see for example Disher, Pearsall). Dave Russell's recent Popular Music in England: 1840-1914 is not another such book. It is, rather, a genuinely serious and scholarly one, its aim nothing less than the writing of a broadly based, comprehensive social history of the popular music of the Victorian era. An extension of similar work by predecessors such as E.D. 80Victorian Review Macherness and, more recently, Cyril Ehrlich, the book is also something of a rarity in its attempt to address the political ramifications of popular music, as well as treating its social context. As the author states in his preface, "I have attempted to construct a genuine social hutory of, rather than a mere social background to, popular music" (xi). If the book succeeds more in the latter than the former, it is nonetheless a valuable and worthy attempt. Any book of this type must in some fashion come to grips with a working definition of the term "popular" for it not to founder completely. As Russell points out, "Neat categories such as 'popular,' 'serious,' 'folk' and such like have a habit of disintegrating when examined closely" (x). Thus instead of trying to establish any firm boundaries of what constitutes "popular music," Russell adopts the most flexible, all-inclusive of stances and states simply: Topular music, in this work at least, refers simply to the music that was offered to, listened to and performed by the majority of the population" (x). Having established his loose working definition, Russell proceeds to outline the broad thrust of his thesis, which is that the popular music of the Victorian period was dominated by three key processes: expansion, diversification, and nationalization (1). These central ideas are treated in three large sections, each based upon one of the three Cs of "Control," "Capitalism," and "Community." The first section is entitled "Control: Music and the Battle for the Working-class Mind." Here Russell focuses upon the relationship between music and morals and the use of music as a reforming agent in society (hence his use of the term "Control"). In two chapters, entitled "Music and Morals" (a title drawn from the well-known and much re-printed book by the Rev. H.R. Haweis), Russell deftly traces the familiar story of the growth of the sightsinging movement in England during the 1840s under leadership of men such as John Curwen, Joseph Mainzer, and John Hullah, the growth of popular concerts during the 1860s, and the more general relationship between music and attempts to improve public morality and inspire healthy recreation. All...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 79-83
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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