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212Victorian Review clear transitions, especially in the later chapters. Finally, the midVictorians ' celebration of nascent commodity culture — for surely there was much of that — might be more fully accounted for. In short, although each chapter is interesting reading in its own right, Novels Behind Glass as a whole misses its chance to make a significant theoretical contribution to the scholarship on the commodity in Victorian culture. Despite these drawbacks, Miller's examination of narrative strategies dealing with Victorian anxieties about commodities is well worth reading for anyone interested in these five authors and those interested in the treatment of the commodity in Victorian fiction generally. PAMELA K. GILBERT University of Wisconsin-Parkside Claire Kahane. Passions of the Voice: Hysteria, Narrative, and the Figure of the Speaking Woman. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1995. xvii + 175. $45.00 US (cloth); $14.95 US (paper). The word "voice", as I sit here and try to locate an appropriate one from my own repertoire, is starting to look rather strange, the way words sometimes do when you stare at them really hard for too long. The o looks obtrusively out of place, somehow, and I never noticed the ice in voice before, which reminds me, uncomfortably, that voices are apt to freeze up, seize up, tremble, crack and break up — to fail us and betray us in all manner of embarrassing inarticulacy at moments both unpredictable and uncanny. Impediment, failure, split. In a spoken or written sentence something stumbles. Freud is attracted by these phenomenon, and it is there that he seeks the unconscious.1 Who said that? Where did that come from? Who or what controls a voice? How do you "locate" what is in essence a dynamic, labile medium of symbolic exchange? What is at once an object — appropriated, assumed, mimicked, parodied, echoed, thrown, or projected — and a fundamental constituent of subjectivity? What difference does a body make in the construction of a speaking voice? In the construction of a narrative "voice"? How do "gendered tensions" (xiii) inflect a textual "voice", and how are they discernible as such? How do discussions of narrative "voice" invariably touch upon a complex of vexed issues relating to literary authority, authorial presence, property, possession, and signification? Reviews213 These aren't new questions, of course, nor are they all questions necessarily taken up by Claire Kahane in Passions of the Voice: Hysteria, Narrative and the Figure of the Speaking Woman. But they are the sorts of questions that I think Kahane's intriguing and suggestive, if not entirely convincing, argument is apt to generate. Kahane's essay into the complexities and elusiveness die "hysterical voice" presupposes a twofold concern with "voice" as bodi a "formal literary category" and "a psychosocial function" of die historical subject (xiii). That is to say, her focus here is on bodi the "hystericized" voice of the historical and literary "figure of the speaking woman", die feminist orator or powerful female speaker whom Kahane designates a subsidiary offshoot of die cultural trope of the late-nineteendi century "new woman"; and, more broadly, on what Kahane terms the "hysterical voice" in fin de siècle and early-twentieth century maleauthored texts by Freud, Henry James, and Joseph Conrad. Encompassing the critical fields of psychoanalysis and feminism, gender theory, narratology, nineteenth-century fiction and modernism, the intellectual scope of Kahane's book reflects an important expansion and development of her earlier work as co-editor of two widely influential essay collections of feminist psychoanalytic criticism.2 . Broadly, Kahane argues tiiat the rise of late-nineteenth century feminism and die appearance of the articulate, and, often, angry "New Woman", "disturbed not only the patriarchal structure of social relations, but also the gendered conventions of domestic fiction", presaging a "breakdown in the conventional sufficiencies" of nineteenth-century realism, a shift "from a 'classic' voice which is by and large attached to an origin tiiat we can identify — either a character or a consciousness — to a modern voice diat has no parentage, in which reference to origins is impossible" (viii-ix). The figure of die speaking woman thus "augured a sexual anarchy in representation that threatened the narrator's ability to tell a coherent story" (x), issuing in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 212-216
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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