- G-5 Comparative Studies
Albright, Daniel. QUANTUM POETICS: YEATS, POUND, ELIOT, AND THE SCIENCE OF MODERNISM. Cambridge University Press, 1997. x + 307 pp. $59.95.
Feng, Pin-chia. THE FEMALE BILDUNGSROMAN BY TONI MORRISON AND MAXINE HONG KINGSTON: A POSTMODERN READING. Peter Lang Publishing, 1997. $49.95.
Harrison, Suzan. EUDORA WELTY AND VIRGINIA WOOLF: GENDER, GENRE, AND INFLUENCE. Louisiana State University Press, 1997. 158 pp. $27.50.
Lamos, Colleen. DEVIANT MODERNISM: SEXUAL AND TEXTUAL ERRANCY IN T.S. ELIOT, JAMES JOYCE, AND MARCEL PROUST. Cambridge University Press, 1998. 269 pp. $59.95.
Lamos deals cogently with the problem of whether Modernism was progressive or conservative: her dynamic view is that it involved an interplay between opposing intentions. The key Modernists Eliot, Joyce, and Proust all presented ideas of order, yet wrote sprawling works that contradicted those ideas by falling into error or actively pursuing it into errancy. Lamos sees order called into question by issues of gender and sexuality. The efforts of these [End Page 456] writers to maintain masculine authority are led astray by the mystery of feminine sexuality and the suppression of homosexuality, so the interaction of historical gender forces gives form to their writings.
Lamos shows that Eliot’s criticism strives to exclude impurity, yet his poems violate the purity he aims at, starting with the early “Ode.” Ulysses is devoted to error to such an extent that any significant attempt to detect truth in the book can only be an interpretation. Remembrance of Things Past sets out to find the key to lost time, but ends up lost in digressions and postponing the explanation. Lamos argues that in this collapse of clear distinction, heterosexuality and homosexuality ultimately cannot be separated. She makes many striking points about all three writers, especially Joyce. A flaw in the book is that it concentrates most on Eliot, yet Lamos is better at discussing prose than poetry. She writes lucidly, with a cool intensity, however, that conveys the power of her skeptical logic. This eye-opening book utterly transforms our vision of Modernism in a fruitful and forward-looking way. SBr
McCarthy, Patrick A., and Paul Tiessen, eds. JOYCE/LOWRY: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES. University Press of Kentucky, 1997. x + 206 pp. $34.95.
As a reader for the University Press of Kentucky, I had the responsibility to read the manuscript for Joyce/Lowry in an earlier form and, thus, can note now the successful dimensions of this collection. It is more truly comparative than most such groupings, with each of its eleven original essays marking the connections between the two authors, their lives, and their works. Six of the essays discuss shared aspects of Under the Volcano and Ulysses, from their links to Expressionism (by Sherrill Grace), to their comic concerns (Joseph C. Voelker), to their use of and ironic response to anti-Semitism (Brain W. Shaffer). Beyond the familiar generalizations of Joyce’s influence on Lowry, despite the latter’s protestations that there was no influence, this volume makes it undeniably clear that there is a real subject here. “There is . . . no consensus about the Joyce-Lowry relationship,” McCarthy writes, but Joyce/Lowry provides a solid platform on which to base a critical consensus. MPL
Mikkonen, Kai. THE WRITER’S METAMORPHOSIS: TROPES OF LITERARY REFLECTION AND REVISION. Tampere University Press, 1997. 353 pp. No price listed.//Michel Butor, Angel Carter, Maxine Hong Kingston, Philip Roth.
Stitt, Peter. UNCERTAINTY AND PLENTITUDE. University of Iowa Press, 1997. 197 pp. $27.95.
Weinstein, Philip M. WHAT ELSE BUT LOVE? THE ORDEAL OF RACE IN FAULKNER AND MORRISON. Columbia University Press, 1996. 237 pp. $17.95 paper. [End Page 457]
Weinstein argues that what makes Faulkner and Morrison great novelists is that their formal excellence engages and springs from the deepest conflicts in American society. His book is thematically organized and goes back and forth from Faulknerian examples (in most of his novels) to Morrisonian ones (in all of hers up to Jazz). The first chapter demonstrates that Faulkner’s portrayal of Dilsey Gibson, his greatest black female character, was inspired and limited by his relation to the black servant who raised him; then it contrasts Dilsey with Morrison’s opening up of...