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Reviews Brian Crick. Love Confounded: Revaluing the Great Tradition. (Denton, Norfolk: Edgeways, 2004), vii + 288 pp. ¿30.00. The best way to characterize Brian Crick's Love Confoundedis to invoke his own words when describing George EUot's Middlemarch: the book is both "a serious piece of Uterary criticism" into how Shakespeare and several major noveUsts think about the relationship between sexual passion and marriage as weU as a "decisive critique of the Uterary and cultural Ufe" that prevails at the present time (174, 177). Throughout the book, the central issue is passion and Crick raises difficult questions about the role of passion or the lack thereof in contemporary Ufe and Uterary criticism. In one way, Crick concludes that passion has been inteUectuaUy discounted from serious consideration in our thinking, at least partiaUy because of the methods and systems that we increasingly rely upon as readers and as a society as a whole. The impUcation is that passion is identified as irrational because it cannot be accounted for scientificaUy and is therefore simply put aside. Having been aU but ignored, our capacity for passion is uneducated and severely underdeveloped if not warped. There is no mistaking that Crick is nodding in agreement when he invokes one of Kierkegaard's judgements of his age: "Let others complain that the age is wicked; my complaint is that it is paltry; for it lacks passion" (143). Part of the difficulty in reading the book is that Crick is unequivocal in his attack on many of the methodological assumptions underlying scholarship on Uterature. Like one of the noveUsts whom he admires, Crick attempts to "lay bare the want of passion EmUy Brontë charges her prospective audience with" and raises the difficult question of whether "the reception of the [book] proves the indictment true and just" (147). Being a scholar myself, I fear there is some danger that my response to Crick's book will manifest what he identifies as "the weirdest combination of sophistication and emotional arrest" in academic readers (25). To use Crick's own summary of his book, his "concern throughout has to do with how Shakespeare and his inheritors, the major noveUsts from Austen to Lawrence, represent famiUal relations, especiaUy those of brother and sister and father and daughter and married love" (18). When simpUfied to a "naked formula," Crick's argument is that "close family ties between members of the opposite sex" are represented as if they were a model for marriage, or "the prospect of love between husband and wife is posed as a threat to the prior commitment" (18). Each chapter is built upon 126volume 31 number2 Reviews unfashionably close readings of King Lear, Mansfield Park, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights, The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch and A Pairof Blue Eyes, novels in which Crick diagnoses how noveUsts seem doomed to write insufficiently critical variations on the terribly unsettling quaUty of the love between CordeUa and Lear. However, unUke Shakespeare, the noveUsts shy away from passion as if it were a threat to our Uving, thereby undermining an important part of our nature. So when George EUot represents passion between Dorothea and Ladislaw in the love scene towards the end of Middlemarch, the result is something embarrassingly adolescent. Or, when Dickens treats the marriages between older men and younger women in David Copperfield, the relationships resemble those between father and daughter. Although assenting to F. R. Leavis's sense of a great tradition of EngUsh noveUsts indebted to Shakespeare, Crick raises serious doubts, suggesting that the maturity of the writers falters when it comes to love and sex, at least until Conrad and Lawrence began writing revaluations of their predecessors in the early twentieth century. In The SecretAgent, Crick identifies Conrad's profound criticism of the domestic drama in the novel tradition that he inherited in the representation of the Verloc family. In short, by slowing kiUing off an entire family Conrad explodes with a vengeance the ideas about love and domestic Ufe found in the EngUsh novel. Love Confounded closes with a discussion of D. H. Lawrence that primarily focuses on The Rainbow but also makes important aUusions to some of his shorter works. A careful consideration...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 126-128
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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