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HUMANITIES 131 Grosskurth is perhaps right to be ambivalent about Ellis's relationship to women. On the one hand, he can be seen as a figure in the history of feminism: his books were influential in the movement towards a fuller sexual life for women; he was a friend and firm supporter of Margaret Sanger in her pioneering work in birth control; and his work was read and responded to by women all over the world. Yet there is something infantilizing in his attitude to women. He wished his tombstone to read: Here lie the Remains of Havelock Ellis He had many Faults But his Breast was Useful For Women to come and Weep on Now only the Skies Weep there. Women found him consoling, and he took care of them as he perhaps wished to be taken care of himself. When he was not being parental, he often played at nursery-games. It seems that he never had a mature, adult heterosexual relationship. Yet his friendships with women were deep and lasting. He even devised substitute satisfactions that were for several women their first opportunities ofexperiencing real sexual pleasure. Even his urolagnia was taken in good spirits by his lovers. Beyond the clinical evidence, what Ellis had was an ability to care for others and to affect them deeply in a healing way. As his biographer concludes: 'The people still living who knew him continue to speak of him as a radiance who touched their lives in a way they will never forget.' (STEPHEN K. LEVINE) Camille R. La Bossiere. Joseph Conrad and the Science of Unknowing York Press 1979. 112. $17·95 cloth; $12.95 paper Gary Geddes. Conrad's LAter Novels McGill-Queen's University Press. xi, 22). $15.95 Camille La Bossiere's short book is an examination of what he perceives to be a common feature of the Comadian text: its expression of the fundamentally irresolvable contradictions of existence through 'dream logic' - or 'Eastern,' or 'synthetic,' or 'analogical logic' (he uses the terms interchangeably). Conrad's awareness of the inability of traditional logic and finite reason to reveal or explicate the human predicament and his use instead of a 'circular logic of contraries' constitute, for La Bossiere, the 'central theme' as well as the formal principle underlying 'the entire corpus of his work.' Such a sweeping claim requires cogent demonstration , yet assertion is more common here than proof and at crucial points in 132 LETTERS IN CANADA 1980 the argument the reader finds himself adrift among uncharted ambiguities , with an ill-plotted course and faulty navigational aids. In his chapter on Conrad's'Ars Poetica: in which he tries to define his central idea of 'dream-logic: La Bossiere seems, in fact, to be saying little more than that literary artists like Conrad seek 'the essential truth of the universe' through analogy and symbolism rather than through the more formal logical methods of scientists and philosophers. But later 'dream logic' is brought into service to describe the non-rational quality of the visionary world which the Conradian hero, at some stage, inevitably enters. The fundamentally different roles this phrase is forced to play are reflective of larger inconsistencies in the book's overall structure. On the one hand (and this is perhaps the most interesting section of the book, and certainly the most carefully researched), La Bossiere wants to place Conrad within a European mystical tradition based on Calder6n and Nicholas ofCusa. But he demonstrates no direct influence and admits that Conrad could have picked up similar notions from German and Polish Romantics, French Symbolists, and even from Shakespeare. On the other hand, he is concerned to show how this irrational, visionary impulse functions in the works. The problem is baSically that the underlying argument is weak and broken-backed. After the initial chapters Calder6n and Nicholas of Cusa are barely mentioned, and the analyses of the individual works are simply too insubstantial to enhance our understanding of Conrad's career. While La Bossiere attempts to reassess Conrad's entire oeuvre, Gary Geddes more narrowly, but still ambitiously, tries to re-evaluate Conrad's later novels (Chance, Victory, The Shadow Line, The Arrow of Gold...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 131-133
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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