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R E V I E W Bryant does concede that a fluid text edition of a book is more demanding than the smooth reading text, since the narrative flow is constantly interrupted with alternativewords and passages.Becauseof itsdifficulty,he believes that publishers and criticswill need to self-consciouslypromote the fluid text edition as a form of literarypleasure, and teachers will have to guide students to appreciateit as an alternativemode. The challenge is for editors to deviseways of editing that will make these pleasuresmore accessible,and for publishers to design books to allow these pleasures to emerge. Perhaps the next part of the experiment will be to conduct, as with any product of educational technolog, empirical studies on how the editions are received by students and scholars. Computer-driven literature plus other narrative multimedia have made interactivity and fluidity more accustomed parts of how our imaginations operate. Yet in the current book world, readers still enjoy the linearity of texts. As a consequence, the intelligent, creative, semi-smooth “critical edition” will remain a popular mainstay, no matter the inroads of fluid text editions. Editors will continue to decide the value of one version over another -and readers will delight in their artistry.Bryant may be over-stating his case, and he may expect too much from what is simply a sensible approach to editing multiform texts. Nonetheless, the theory of the fluid text presents an innovative approach to producing educational editions, as well as a valuable tool for literary interpretation , and Bryant argues its logic persuasively. Hilton Obenzinger Stanford University Literature and Moral Reform: Melville and the Discipline of Reading CAROL COLATRELLA University Press of Florida, 2002. 337 pages. arol Colatrella’sLiterature and Moral Refom is an ambitious attempt to examine Melville’sprose fiction within the context of the penitentiary Creform movement and related discourses of social reform that promoted reading “asa form of acculturation and social rehabilitation” during the first half of the nineteenth century (8). She is not the first to observe that motifs of imprisonment and matters of legal justice occur throughout Melville’s writings . The title essay of Harrison Hayford‘s Melville’s Prisoners (2003) demonstrates that the idea of imprisonment in Moby-Dick, Pierre, and S i l l y Budd points to the metaphysical dilemmas of human life. In Cross-examinations of Law and Literature (1990), Brook Thomas has examined the degree to which A J O U R N A L O F M E L V I L L E S T U D I E S 7 9 R E V I E W Melville’s texts are engaged with specific legal issues, many of which were ruled on by his father-in-law, Judge Lemuel Shaw. Bruce Franklin’s Prison Literaturein America: The Victim as Criminal and Artist (1982) comes closer to Colatrella’sthesis, yet like Hayford,Franklin sees the figure of the prisoner and the occurrence of imprisonment as symbols of Melville’s concern with broader political and philosophical issues. What Colatrella adds to this body of criticism is a more precise look at how Melville’sworks challenge and confound discourses of social reform that presume reading to be a vehicle for moral and spiritual improvement. This is a compelling idea. However, her claims are not always substantiated by her close analysis of Melville’stexts and the writings of his contemporaries. The challenge facing such a study lies in the fact that reform issues are not always central concerns in Melville’s fiction. When they are discussed, the narration often complicates the issues that social reformers would resolve. Moreover, the sheer number and variety of reform movements in antebellum America-the competing, often contradictory, agendas of abolitionists, labor organizers, or the founders of associations such as Brook Farm-make it difficult to isolate a unifying theme or common purpose among programs of social reform. In his magazine fiction, Melville tackles the problem piecemeal, at least to the extent that “Benito Cereno” can be said to engage the concerns of abolition, “TheParadise of Bachelorsand the Tartarus of Maids” those of labor, and “Poor Man’s Pudding and Rich Man’s Crumbs” the problem of poverty which experiments in communal living were...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1750-1849
Print ISSN
1525-6995
Pages
pp. 79-84
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-29
Open Access
No
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