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Reviews199 title of her concluding chapter. The contribution of titis study lies less in the paradigm of shared marginalization foregrounded by this question and by the title of the book itself, than in Michie's subtle exploration of the myriad ways in which class, race and gender ideologies constitute and reconstitute themselves tiirough elusive, mteranirnating chains of signification and substitution. And, belying her introductory emphasis on how the women writers she treats were "imprisoned witiiin" limiting definitions of femininity (4), Michie adds substantially to our understanding of these authors by showing how each disrupts the symbolic economy that confines her. In Mary Jacobus' words, which form the epigraph to Michie's "Conclusion," each of these writers wreaks "havoc on consciousness, on hierarchy, and on unitary schemes designed to repress the otherness of femininity" (172). MARJORJE STONE Dalhousie University Works Cited Henderson, May Gwendolyn. "Speaking in Tongues: Dialogics, Diacritics, and the Black Woman Writer's Literary Tradition." Reading Black, Reading Feminist: An Anthology. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Meridian Books, 1990. 116-42. Mellor, Anne. Romanticism and Gender. London: Routledge, 1993. Spivak, Gayatri. "Three Women's Texts and a Critique of Imperialism." In "Race" Writing, and Difference. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1986. 262-80. Malcolm Andrews. Dickens and the Grown-up Child. Iowa City, Iowa: U of Iowa P, 1994. ix + 214. $29.95 US (cloth). ProfessorAndrews begins his work by citing Angus Wilson's comment that while much has been done in tracking down the autobiographical and social sources of Dickens's preoccupation with children and childhood, little has been done with the 'metaphysical-historical' (i.e., theoretical) context The citation locates Andrews's analysis neatly and sets up the book's central project, which is to torch the common portrayal of Dickens as a more-or-less mindless reflector of his own childhood, and establish him as a conscious participant in the debate on 200Victorian Review the nature of childhood inherited from eighteenth-century and Romantic theorists. For this, Andrews is able to draw upon explicit commentary in Dickens's prose, as well as interpretation of the novels, illustrating Dickens's intimacy with concepts of the noble savage, and the child of nature. Also illustrated is his dissatisfaction both with these traditional formulations and with the contemporary trend to force youth into maturity before its time. What emerges from this ideological contextualization is the extreme complexity of the debate, heated by the historical tensions between young and old, that came to a head in the early Victorian period. Andrews encapsulates this tension very cleverly in his title, which points both ways: the grown-up who acts like a child, or the child who acts grown-up. Characteristically, there are pro's and con's to either formulation. The grown-up who acts like a child may be hypocritical and calculating like Harold Sldmpole, the object of satiric attack and exposure; or he may be non compos like Nell's grandfather, betraying those we care about On the other hand, Scrooge remains Scrooge until he is put in touch with his own childhood and Tiny Tim's, whereupon he becomes human, lovable, and childlike. The child who acts grown-up may be the victim of unnatural forcing, like Paul Dombey or Nell; on die other hand, precocious girls are usually idealized in Dickens. Agnes Wickfield could perhaps be seen both ways — as the victim of a sort of paternal child abuse which makes her a surrogate Mrs. Wickfield, and as a delightful little housekeeper, cavorting about with the heavy ring of keys. Andrews's fifth chapter aims "to organize a kind of taxonomy of grown-up children": The main categories are as follows: the professional 'infants', the cases of arrested development, the prematurely adult child seen as social victim, the idealized, precociously mature child (mainly the child heroines), the childlike adult as a paragon of virtue. (73) Though Andrew admits that this "classification is not particularly refined" (73), his approach implies a coherence that is never achieved, due to the lack of a normative model of the grown-up child; in other words, the complexity and ambivalence reflected in Dickens's fiction...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 199-201
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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