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188Victorian Review have come from — all of these questions remain unanswered and for the most part unasked. The reader who comes to this work believing that women in the nineteenth century were much like their late-twentieth century counterparts only (in what I have come to believe is a revealing choice of words) "more suppressed" will find that belief confirmed rather than challenged here. In the end, Victorian Women serves to reveal, rather than to bridge, the gap between "popular" and "scholarly" understandings of women's past. JOYDfXON University ofBritish Columbia G.A. Cevasco (ed.) The 1890s: An Encyclopedia ofBritish Literature, Art, and Culture. New York and London: Garland P, Inc., 1993. xxi + 714. $150.00 CDN. Imagining the kind ofcourage it takes to create an encyclopedia would be enough to daunt the hardiest of scholars. Contemplating the stalwart qualities necessary to envision and assemble an encyclopedia on the 1890s — that under-conceptualized era of yellow covers and spiritual quests, cocaine-injecting consulting detectives and women of no importance — might catapult readers into the muddled song of the Victorian musical version of Macbeth, he who warbled: "Is that a dagger I see before me?/My wits are scattered in a whirlwind stormy." So it is that the first order of reviewing business is to congratulate heroic editor G.A. Cevasco. The second job of work is to welcome this seven hundred page volume to the light of day. Attending midwives include Garland's Senior Editor Phyllis Körper, consulting editors Gary Paterson (King's College, University of Western Ontario) and Murray G.H. Pittock (Edinburgh University), and more than three hundred contributors from many countries. The 1890s: An Encyclopedia ofBritish Literature, Art, and Culture includes over eight hundred topics, alphabetically listed. Most of the entries are on "individual authors, artists, political figures, historians, scientists, philosophers, theologians, journalists, actors, and music hall entertainers" (viii). Sensibly, the volume lists people whose influential work began in earlier decades as well as those who blossomed — like the dandy's peacocks on leashes — in the century's final decade. And included among the entries are over one hundred entries on the most important books of the period. Mr. Cevasco defines important books as Reviews189 tiiose "that had die most representative influence on their readers, as well as on other writers, during die decade and beyond" (viii). Lasdy, the volume covers general topics such as "Art for Art's Sake," "Darwinism," and "Pornography." Widi celebration and description behind us, I must admit, widi rueful admiration, that Mr. Cevasco has attempted to disable die reviewer from die rest of her job. In a defense half-disguised as an apologia, he says: "literary scholars, as well as art and cultural historians, may be able to carp that diere are topics that should have been included in this volume, but were not. Among those that had been included, it may be argued, some should have received more — or less — attention; and possibly diere are even a few entries mat could have been omitted" (viii). What bottom-feeding fresh-water carp would dare to carp after that? Yet — carpe diem — the volume under review is not beyond reasonable criticism, even while leaving die question of additional topics or factual errors to other Causabons. A disappointing number of entries seem to turn on outdated arguments or assessments. For example, the entry of Robert Louis Stevenson defends his oeuvre, arguing that "the work of restoring him to die Victorian canon still remains to be done" (590). Certainly Stevenson's twentiedi-century reputation took a Tennysonian nose-dive, anchored with charges of low-cultural crudeness and boyish escapism. But an ongoing Stevenson renaissance and reappraisal began in die seventies widi Ian Campbell's Nineteenth-Century Scottish Fiction (1979) and Jenni Calder's cottage industry of Stevenson scholarship. The one hundred year anniversary of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) saw a veritable orgy of respectful and lively work on Stevenson. The contemporary critical position for Stevenson's work seems strangely misrepresented and not explicable dirough die assumption that an encyclopedia was probably in the works for more tiian a year or two. The question of principles for inclusion crops up widi dismaying frequency...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 188-190
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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