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420 LETTERS IN CANADA 1982 Carlyle's seeming plausibility and puts forward a new explanation for the letter. There is, however, a letter from Rear Admiral George Murray to his brother General James Murray, Governor of Quebec, which so clearly identifies Hume as the author that no explaining away is here possible. But what carries complete conviction is the meticulous set of annotations which show frequently the same sentiments and expressions occurring elsewhere in Hume's writings. Apart from this the annotations are indispensable for a modern reader's understanding of the allegorical references. A gIeat amount of research and scholarship has gone into providing the key to these references. In Sister Peg we have Hume the historian giving the necessary backgIound of Scottish history, the political philosopher weighing the case for a citizen's army against a professional army, and the literary wit and author of other satirical pamphlets. He is at his best in treating the characters of his main victims Pitt Oowler), Lord Chancellor Hardwick Oohn Bull's Nurse), Newcastle (Hubble-Bubble), and Robert Dundas (Bumbo). Chapter xiii, 'How Bumbo discoursed with John Bull's Nurse and found her not so great a fool as he thought her,' is very funny indeed. (ROBERT MCRAE) Jay Macpherson, The Spirit of Solitude: Conventions and Continuities in Late Romance Yale University Press. xv, 349, illus. $24.50 A book by a friend and former teacher raises expectations that The Spirit of Solitude fulfils. I read this book with pleasure, sometimes understanding for the first time remarks remembered from classes on Milton, on Romantic narrative, and on Victorian poetry. For the wide range of Professor Macpherson's teaching is also the range of her book, going back to classical poetry and mythology, and forward from Milton and his eighteenth-century imitators to Goethe, the English Romantics, and Victorian poetry and prose romance. Beyond this, the book glances at some twentieth-century literature and - helpfully and perceptively - at films (Caligari, Frankenstein, Citizen Kane, The Phantom of the Opera, among others), before ending with an epilogue on Canadian literature. The Spirit of Solitude is therefore a comprehensive, even encyclopaedic book, combining the authority of genuine scholarship and unusually wide reading in several languages (classical as well as French and German) with the personal voice that is another side of good teaching. This is not a conventional work of scholarship and criticism, but at its heart is a deep and consistent respect for the integrity of literature itself and for the forms in which the imagination makes sense of experience. 'Late romance' is defined as post-Miltonic romance, elegiac in tone and pastoral in origin. Macpherson begins by defining the pastoral land- HUMANITIES 421 scape, looking back to Theocritus and Virgil as well as to Milton (especially 'Lycidas' and Paradise Lost), and showing how the centre of Romantic elegy becomes not the dying god but the grieving poet, not Adonis but Narcissus. The early chapters cast up images of the poet's relation to his world, like the mirror that is demonstrated to unite poetry and heroism for Goethe's Tasso. Any reader who might feel baffled by a lack of argument by the end of chapter two, or who might look for a more evident structure of ideas, should find chapter three ('Elegy and the Elegiac') especially helpful: it pulls together the first part of the book admirably, with a convincing discussion and demonstration of the transference of image and atmosphere from eighteenth-century Miltonic poetry to prose fiction . This capacity to move easily and knowledgeably from poetry to fiction, allowing images from one to illuminate the other, is one of the strengths of the book. The discussion of Werther that ends the first section effectively establishes 'elegiac romance' as a genre and prepares us for discussion of its characters. Using the Poet in Shelley'S Alastor as one version of the Romantic Narcissus, Macpherson moves on to consideration of his female complements and counterparts. Chapter six, 'Nymphs, Swains, and Spirits of Solitude: is one of the most allusive chapters in the book, with its discussion of nympholepsy and the elusive ideal vision. For me, the most interesting part of the book is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 420-422
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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