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Reviews was to kül him at such an early age" (185). Yet Adams himself at times seems to succumb to the aUure of the more tragic and romantic image of Dowson. Dowson's own letters, particularly those from eariier in his career, are themselves a powerful corrective to the tragic Dowson of legend.1 These letters contain evidence of Dowson's enjoyment of Hfe, his enthusiasm for his work even when he is writing commercial shilling shockers, and his sense of humour. Though Adams does give us gHmpses of this Dowson, the tragic Dowson looms larger. StiU, the biography is a very good one and the presentation of a more complex Dowson than that of the legend is an important step in the re-evaluation of Dowson, an important figure in the transitional Decadent period from Victorianism to Modernism in Uterature. Kirsten MacLeod University of Alberta Notes 1. Dowson's letters have been coUected and edited by Desmond Flower and Henry Maas in The Utters of ErnestDowson (London: CasseU, 1967). Cynthia Scheinberg. Women's Poetry andReligion in Victorian England:Jewish Identity and Christian Culture. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002), xH + 275, $55.00. Cynthia Scheinberg's work is part of a new generation of study of Victorian poetry and Victorian reHgion. ReHgion, one of the guiding forces behind much nineteenth-century writing, has for year been set aside as a category with less interest than, for example, race, class, or gender. Feminist critics have had to sidestep the problem of reHgion in particular, since so much Victorian women's poetry is reHgious, and feminist criticism often bears with it certain unexamined anti-religious (and anti-Judaic) Marxian assumptions. In the nineteenth century, reHgious poetry dominated the poetry market — top-selling poets included Keble, Procter, and Ingelow. Scheinberg's study takes Victorian women's reHgious faith seriously rather 100volume 30 number 1 Reviews than reading it as conventional, weak, or uninteresting. This book makes us read reHgious work by women as central to their poetic, individual, and pubHc identities. Women poets used dieir work to think through dieir theologies, theologies they were not aUowed to study in bothJewish and Christian reHgious institutions. Scheinberg's book examines the intersections of religion, gender, nationaHsm, and textuaHty by interrogating the role of Judaism in Christian culture. The canonical way of integrating theJewish into die Christian heritage was typological exegesis, which readJudaic history as providing a metaphor for Christian identity but with something lacking that had to be completed by a Christian context; the words of the Hebrew writer in this scheme are bodi valued and snipped from their original historical müieu. For Scheinberg, Christian writing aboutJudaism and about women intersect: as Christianity "completes"Judaism, so can men be seen to "complete" women. Jewishness is linked to poetic discourse through the Psalms, and nineteenthcentury work on Hebrew poetry. "With the beHef that the processes of poetry and Christianity are essentiaUy linked, Victorian theological poetic theory repeatedly engaged withJewish difference as part of the process of constructing the EngHsh Christian poetic self, yet always with an expHcit need to disassociate this theory of poetry from actualJewish people" (54). BibHcal poets are idealized while actualJewish poets are treated with ambivalence. Jewishness comes to represent otherness in Victorian England, and so stands in for the 'otherness' of women. For Scheinberg, Vomen poets turned to this discourse ofJewishness in order to claim alternative kinds of Hterary identity" (4). Jewish women writers constructed Hterary stances in opposition to Christian ones, which could be subdy anti-Judaic even as they usedJewish sources. Scheinberg contrasts Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whose Christian typology claims Hebrew figures in order to name a Christian identity, to Grace Aguilar, who markedJudaism as an ongoing religious faith and practice. Scheinberg examines four Victorian women poets: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Grace Aguilar, and Amy Levy. For Scheinberg, Barrett Browning "creates a prophetic female identity through reference to Jewish identity and 'the Hebraic' throughout her poetry" (66). AtypicaUy for Christian women, Barrett actuaUy read Hebrew. Hebraic knowledge becomes a source of authority for her she shows off her linguistic and Victorian Review (2004)101 Reviews theological knowledge, and then uses the stereotype of theJewish woman's agency and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 100-103
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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