- G-2 Literary History
Cook, Steve H. THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN HART CRANE AND WALDO FRANK. Whitston Publishing Company, 1998. xxii + 212 pp. $29.50.
Denomme, Robert T., and Ronald H. Simon, eds. UNFINISHED REVOLUTIONS: LEGACIES OF UPHEAVAL IN MODERN FRENCH CULTURE. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998. 178 pp. $40.00, cloth. $16.95, paper. [End Page 417]
Green, Barbara. SPECTACULAR CONFESSIONS: AUTOBIOGRAPHY, PERFORMATIVE ACTIVISM, AND THE SITES OF SUFFRAGE, 1905–1938. St. Martin’s Press, 1997. 272 pp. illus. $45.00.
Suffrage was a struggle that changed the representation of women politically, but also ideologically and culturally. The bodies of women were to “count” in a new way, and the body was the site of struggles: in force feeding (of imprisoned suffrage woman), in parades and pageantry, and in all kinds of performative rallying of women in public.This intelligent and discerning study uses an array of women’s writings—memoirs, pamphlets, diaries, letters, novels, and history—to examine the ways such writing was enlisted to change the representation of women’s bodies, to fortify solidarity and inspire activism, and to mark the entrance of women into public spaces. Green is also a skilled and elegant mediator between contemporary theories of sexuality, specularity, and performance and the writings and activities of the suffrage struggle. Modernity is associated with specularity in a variety of ways (consumer culture, flaneuses, cinema, fashion, sexuality, and even sickness), and it is Green’s contention that suffrage women both manipulated and sometimes made critiques of the theatricalization of the female body in general in order to propel their political victories. Writers treated include Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf, and lesser known works such as Elizabeth Robins’ The Convert and Gertrude Colmore’s Suffrage Sally, as well as autobiographical writings by Lady Constance Lytton. RBD
Kerrane, Kevin, and Ben Yagoda, eds. THE ART OF FACT: A HISTORICAL ANTHOLOGY OF LITERARY JOURNALISM. Scribner, 1997. 558 pp. $35.00.
Klein, Yvonne M., ed. BEYOND THE HOME FRONT: WOMEN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITING OF THE TWO WORLD WARS. New York University Press, 1997. 304 pp. $55.00 cloth, $18.50 paper.
Klein sets out to paint a more complete picture of women’s war experience than can be drawn from autobiographical texts still in print. She thus compiles a collection of excerpts from many once widely-read accounts of women’s lives during the two World Wars. Relying primarily on American and British texts, the collection offers at first-hand the great sacrifice for and contribution of women to the war efforts and illustrates the broad range of experience which these women faced, from VAD nursing in the First World War to Kristallnacht and imprisonment in Nazi death camps. At times these accounts are somewhat uneven in their significance and their effect on the reader, with pieces by famous writers such as Gertrude Stein falling well short of the impact of writings by less well-known women who survived (and sometimes did not survive) unspeakable hardships. Nevertheless, the texts work collectively to show both the diversity of their experience and the pervasiveness of the war’s impact on women’s worlds, and this is clearly Klein’s intent. The anthology also helps to [End Page 418] underscore the connections between the war efforts and the Women’s Movement, labor movements, and ultimately the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, a theme touched on in Klein’s brief but thoughtful introduction. This is a useful, compelling, and at times unsettling work, important reading for anyone interested in women’s studies, war history, or the autobiography as genre. Christine Palumbo-De Simone, Temple University
Lennox, John, and Ruth Panofsky. SELECTED LETTERS OF MARGARET LAURENCE AND ADELE WISEMAN. University of Toronto Press, 1997. ix + 409 pp. $60.00 cloth, $24.95 paper
MacGowan, Christopher, ed. THE LETTERS OF DENISE LEVERTOV AND WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS. New Directions, 1998. 163 pp. $24.95.
An elegant and charming book of letters beginning in 1951, when Williams was sixty-eight and Levertov twenty-eight years old, a book that reads like a novel. Levertov is the more active of the two, alert to the fact that her letters give poststroke Williams a window on the contemporary...