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86Rocky Mountain Review even more inaccessible" (86). In discussing How It Is, he relies on Paul Ricoeur's tenet that metaphor is in itself a discontinuity and that in its discontinuity lies its productive agency. It becomes really a matter of predication (a favorite Singer word) and production served out of difference rather than resemblance. The binding element to the three chapters devoted to these three novels is that metaphor and catachresis are disruptive, discontinuous, and hence productive of meaning in their own right. They may also symbolize authorial presence and freedom or set their own rules for textual coherence. Two chapters elaborating on these possibilities precede the chapters on the novels. Relying upon the likes of Lacan, Ricoeur, Derrida, and de Man, and sweeping away the likes of Booth, Lodge, and Freedman, Singer makes his allegiances clear. But the jungle of Singer's own verbal exorbitance is a thick one indeed (perhaps in this way he is metatextualizing on his own and thus practicing what he preaches). And, quite frankly, I am not certain if there is a temple of gold to be found at the journey's end. But for those who can appreciate the journey as a worthwhile reward, then Singer's text should work. It is a text which makes a rigorous attempt to muscle for elbow room and to position itself as a progenitive stepchild capable of surviving on its own. JAMES L. MARRA Texas Tech University MICHAEL SLATER. Dickens and Women. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1983. 465 p. For the reader who has usually found greater realism, more psychological depth, and stronger interest in Dorothea Brooke, Gwendolen Harleth, Margaret Hale, Lucy Snowe, and Becky Sharp, and would like to be convinced that such women also exist in Dickens, Michael Slater's book will be a disappointment. Except in the case of David Copperfield's Dora, where Slater points out subtleties often overlooked, this eminent Dickens scholar affirms the often noted limitations in the attitudes of"our Shakespeare of the novel," to use Slater's own introductory phrase (xii). Thus, Dickens, despite his promotion of the domestic ideal, has difficulty depicting strong and positive mother-child relationships (because, Slater says, of his own mother's willingness that he remain in the blacking factory even after it ceased to be necessary to the family fortunes). And, Dickens was especially fond of illustrating the domestic ideal through a brother-sister relationship, preferring the idea of an innocent marriage of children perhaps, Slater suggests, because he had problems accepting the sexual nature of adult relationships (sometimes Dickens mixes the two, however, and Slater comments wryly on the sexual overtones in the Ruth and Tom Pinch relationship). And again, Dickens is apprehensive of strong, passionate women, tending to turn them into comic characters of the Mrs. Jellyby and Mrs. Pardiggle sort, which infuriated feminist thinkers like John Stuart Mill, or to make them victim-villains, like Louisa Gradgrind, Lady Dedlock, or Edith Dombey. These and other clichés about Dickens and his women characters are true. And yet, while affirming their content, Slater's book removes the statements Book Reviews87 from the realm of cliché by providing a context in which the reader comes to understand better both writer and his writings. Likewise, in the section on the actual women in Dickens' life, Slater, in his detached and careful scholarship and his avoidance of sensationalism and vague speculation, leads the reader to an understanding of Dickens rather than a condemnation, even in the case of Dickens' treatment of his wife, which seems to have been rather shabby. The book is divided into three main sections. The first, "Experience and Art," explores Dickens' relationships with women in his life, starting with his mother and ending with Ellen Ternan; this section, which includes salient references to the stories and novels, is the longest, taking up over half the book. The second section, "The Women of the Novels," divided into three chapters, works chronologically through Dickens' fiction. "Dickens and Woman," the third section, consists of a single long chapter titled "The Womanly Ideal." The first and third sections are the most engaging and useful. The first provides an overview of all the...


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pp. 86-88
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