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Reviews215 (227). In sum, that despite the many flaws in his character, he was really the "Grand Old Man" of Victorian politics. This convincing exercise in psycho-history is meticulously researched, objective, and exceedingly well written. Its merit is augmented by an informative endnote apparatus, an inclusive bibliography of Gladstonia, and some very pertinent illustrations. Crosby deserves the accolade of "a job well done". J.O. BAYLEN Eastbourne, England Susan J. Navarette. The Shape of Fear: Horror and the fin de Siècle Culture of Decadence. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1998. xii + 314. $37.95 US (cloth). In The Shape of Fear: Horror and the Fin de Siècle Culture of Decadence, Susan J. Navarette examines the way in which fin de siècle horror fiction reflected nineteenth-century scientific theories and the cultural anxieties these theories engendered. Ranging broadly over disciplines as distinct as biology, philology, geology, physics, and anthropology, Navarette stresses the uniformity of their methodologies, all of which involved reading "distinctive surface patterns and structures" in order to understand "occult mechanisms and processes" (5). Fin de siècle horror writers in turn drew upon this scientific methodology as they sought "to record and reenact in narrative form what they understood to be the entropie, devolutionary and degenerative forces prevailing within the natural world" (6). Ultimately these works register the imminent sense of doom and decay that we have come to associate with the fin de siècle mentality. One of the strengths of the book is its selection of primary texts. Sacrificing quantity of literary texts for quality of analysis, Navarette focuses on five key works. Of these five texts, three are examples of what Navarette calls "literary detritus" or "refuse" (6) — works that have been largely ignored by critics: Walter de la Mare's "A:B:0," Vernon Lee's "The Doll," and Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan. Navarette argues that these works have as much to say about the culture that produced them as do canonical texts such as Henry James's The Turn ofthe Screw and Joseph Conrad's Heart ofDarkness, works which are also included in her study. Her book is divided into two sections. The first section, comprised of four chapters, demonstrates the 216Victorian Review effect o the arts of science's rendering of the body as a text to be read. In this section, attention is given to works in which the apparently normal body masks degenerative tendencies. Fundamental to this discussion are de la Mare's "A:B:0," James's The Turn ofthe Screw," and "Lee's "The Doll." The second section focuses on the nineteenthcentury tendency to treat text or language as an organic body. In this section, Navarette discusses Machen's The Great God Pan and Conrad's Heart of Darkness — works in which cultural decline is reflected through language and textual disruption. At the beginning of the first section, Navarette sets up the parameters of her argument tracing the emergence of the ideas of body as text and text as body in the science and arts of the earlier nineteenth century. She skilfully interweaves scientific and literary material in a way that clearly demonstrates the increasing interest in and absorption of scientific ideas by artists. It was the new sciences, Navarette claims, which ultimately undermined the Romantic notion that "truth was beauty and beauty truth" by "revealfing] that even all that seemed benign or beautiful merely masked — was in reality symptomatic of or premonitory of — extensive processes of decay" (31). This notion of a deceptive surface caused most anxiety when applied to the human body, a fact attested to by the prominence given in the nineteenth century to the studies of criminal anthropologists such as Cesare Lombroso. Lombroso's criminalizing of the human body in turn had an impact on the criminalization of the artistic text, for he served as an inspiration to Max Nordau who used the artistic text to reveal the degeneracy of its creator. This "dynamic between external forms and internal disorders" (41) was fascinating to the writers of fin de siècle horror who exploited its possibilities to the fullest. Navarette concludes the chapter with an examination of Oscar Wilde...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 215-218
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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