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94Victorian Review interpénétration of the contemporary with the historical, biblical, and archetypal—an interpénétration that, as McMaster points out, reflects the tensions between typology and mid-nineteenth-century realism. Finally, what McMaster says of Thackerayan names leads into his view of Thackerayan allusion in general: both their number and ingenuity in The Newcomes must affect the reading consciousness in special ways, drawing attention to their artificial construction and their place as signifiers within a social and moral discourse. At however many stages of remove, they are alties with allegory, requiring the reader not only to pursue an action but to consider it from various perspectives, so that the apparentiy single narrative becomes several types of discourse. . . . [For Thackeray] the present action is merely a localising of eternally recurrent patterns. He emphasises the textuality of history and the blurred lines between history and fiction. ... He develops his city's topography as a semiological system of moral, intellectual, artistic and class signifiers. He saturates his narrative with supplementary fictions, fables, plays, operas, paintings and songs that call attention to the mental and creative processes operative in trying to formulate what we like to call reality. And lest that all hang together too comfortably, he . . . leaves his story unfinished for the reader to conclude. (171) McMaster's book is the genial result of authoritative scholarship and years of thoughtful reflection upon a major work of nineteenth-century fiction. Edgar F. Harden Simon Fraser University E. Thai's Morgan, ed. Victorian Sages and Cultural DiscourseRenegotiating Power and Gender. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1990. $38.50 US (cloth). $15.00 US (paper). Victorian Sages and Cultural Discourse is a crucial interposition into the realm of Victorian sage writing and criticism—a powerful demonstration of diverse reading strategies tiiat include "new historicism, reader reception, psychoanalysis, marxism, semiotics, and deconstruction" (3), all ofwhich are informed by recent feminist criticism that seeks to problematize sexual Reviews95 difference. The fourteen essays that comprise the volume are organized "dialogically" rather than chronologically (17). Thaïs E. Morgan writes the first essay which serves to contextualize and clarify the issues of sex and gender in Victorian sage writing and criticism, and which introduces the contributions that foUow. The first group of essays, Carol T. Christ on Carlyle, George P. Landow on Nightingale, and Linda M. Shires on Tennyson, serve to foreground the historical context, the rhetorical conventions, and the gender politics of sage writing. The second set ofessays considers the female Victorian sage's attempts to transform the patriarchal order. To this end Janet L. Larson, Antony H. Harrison, and Mary WUson Carpenter treat works by Charlotte Brontë, Christina Rossetti, and George Eliot. The third set of essays, Paul Sawyer on Ruskin and Susan P. Casteras on Victorian paintings, occupies the centre of the collection and explores visualizations of feminine power, and as die editor points out, provides a dialogue over Ruskin's "ideal of woman as custodian of hearth and heart" (1 1). The fourth group of essays by Linda H. Peterson, Florence S. Boos, and Susan Morgan examines, respectively, Harriet Martineau, WiUiam Morris, and female travel writers, to explore the evolution of sage discourse away from biblical models towards secular philosophy. The final essays by Lori Hope Lefkovitz and Richard Dellamora examine the issue of "gendercrossing " (18) in the novels of Austen, Eliot, and Alcott, and in WUde's drama, Salomé. The above list demonstrates the diversity of sage writings considered by the contributors, including the essay, the novel, narrative and lyric poetry, drama, the religious tract, scientific and travel journals, the political manifesto, and the social prophecy. Apart from sage writing, the visual arts are also considered. Susan P. Casteras analyzes a variety of works by both male and female painters that depict women with supernatural powers of mind and body. With twelve illustrations of works from a variety of painters, which include Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Lady Lilith, Evelyn Pickering de Morgan's Medea, and several works each by Frederick Sandys and John W. Waterhouse, this essay is one of the highlights of Victorian Sages. Richard Dellamora's essay on Wilde is another strength of Victorian Sages since it performs a crucial renegotiation...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 94-96
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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