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HUMANITIES 117 roots in Wilson's early years, if at moments too trustingly citing from The Wild Garden, his own exploration of the relationship between his life and fiction. More successfully than previous commentators, Gardner discerns the connections between the novels and other works of the 1950s, giving full due to The Mulberry Bush, Wilson's only stage play. But the summaries of the longer works - and with some justice Gardner adjudges them as too long - crowdoutcriticalcommentary, leavingroom onlyforbrieflyargued evaluation. Thus, for example, the sheer bulk of the plots of No Laughing Matter and As If By Magic disallows sustained analytical consideration, suggesting that a writer of Wilson's depth and amplitude is particularly ill served by Twayne's format. As it is, Wilson the writer of fiction is the exclusive concern here, with the three critical biographies of Zola, Dickens, and Kipling receiving only passing mention and the vast output of essays and reviews almost unnoticed. The volume includes a brief chronology to 1980 and a primary and secondary selected bibliography. The latter fails to include Robert J. Stanton's A Bibliography ofModern British Novelists (1978), to date the most comprehensive, if far from complete, listing of Wilson's works and criticism on him, supplemented by J.H. Stape's similarly unmentioned checklist for 1976-80 in the TeL special issue. This is an urbanely written overview that will particularly interest the advanced undergraduate to whom it is addressed. The scholar, with whom this series is admittedly little concerned, must look elsewhere for the critical insights and information that will assist him in his reading of Wilson and must still await a study that will seriously address itself to the work of one of England's most significant post-war writers. (J.H. STAPE) Linda Hutcheon. A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms Methuen. 143. $12.95 paper When asked for a definition of parody, the average person might well answer, quoting Webster's New World Dictionary, 'a ... composition imitating the characteristic style of some other work ... but treating a serious subject in a nonsensical manner, as in ridicule.' F.R. Leavis might have agreed, since he saw parody as the enemy of genius and orginality. But this view of parody, as a parasitic and reactionary mode, leaves little room for some of the great parodic works in literature and art: Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy, Ulysses, Travesties, the paintings of Magritte, and Post-Modern architecture. What do we do with the late Picasso and his series of paintings and sculptures modelled on Manet's Dejeuner sur [,herbe? What do we do with the Troubadours' practice of pairing and complementing each of their songs with its own parody? As Linda Hutcheon points out in A Theory of Parody, the etymology of the words, para odos, allows for not justa song sung against the original, but one sung beside the other. Her definition of parody is more neutral and expansive: 'parody is ... repetition with critical distance, which marks difference rather than similarity.' The pragmatic range of parody, the range of intended effect or ethos, can vary from scornful laughter, through playful mockery, to respectful homage. Her definition allows, as does that of the Russian Formalists, for continuity as well as change, for both conservative parodies and for those 'capable of transformative power in creating new syntheses.' It is in the context of this 'inter-art traffic' (Leo Steinberg), if not necessarily in terms of literary history, and in that of the self-reflexivity of modem art that contemporary theorists have turned to parody. Textual repetition, as Hutcheon points out, raises particularly modern critical issues: the status of the subject, the reference of the text, and even the closure of texts. Hutcheon's book is not a history of parody, nor a systematic analysis of the techniques of parody. It sets out rather to define the nature and pragmatic functions of parody, deciding among other things what exactly can be parodied (any codified form), and whether parody is a genre or a technique (a genre, with its own structural identity and hermeneutic function). Her definition of parody, she insists, is not transhistorical, but, in offering some elements that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 117-119
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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