In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

424 LETTERS IN CANADA 1982 hypothesis to yield substantial and consistent interpretive results that is most disappointing. There is apparently no correlation between the large and small sections of a proportion, for example, and the truth, temporal or eternal, each embodies. And when a passage in The Prelude (the Simplon Pass episode, VI, 617-40) that some acclaim its 'greatest and most important vision' is found not to conform to the golden section, it is downgraded as reflective of the failure of the poet's imagination to discipline his perceptions into a constructive order. The wariness felt early, upon learning in the introduction that a minor poem like 'St. Paul's' fits a geometrical pattern Wordsworth reserved for his most important metaphysical utterances, is never laid to rest. In the end, one is left to wonder whether Wordsworth's Metaphysical Verse tells us anything more about its subject than can be known from careful attention to the language and syntax of some important passages and poems. (RICHARD LESSA) Annette Tromly. The Cover of the Mask: The Autobiographer ill Charlotte Bronte's Fiction English Literary Studies No 26 Department of English, University of Victoria, BC. 106. $5.00 Annette Tromly does not commit the error of confusing Charlotte Bronte's sensibility with that of her narrators. Drawing a distinction between author and narrator enables Tromly to uncover Bronte's concern with the moral ambiguity of art. Proving Bronte to be an artist in control of her art, Tromly in her first chapter discredits psychological and biographical interpretation for paying little heed to the art of Bronte's fiction. The remaining chapters examine how successfully the narrators create and maintain patterns of enclosure in their autobiographies. In each case, Tromly discovers narrators who use aesthetic patterns to avoid the ambiguity of life and so interpret their lives reductively. Vil/ette offers the bleakest view of art: Lucy Snowe uses autobiography to enclose her life in a literary artefact. These narrative constructs reveal an implicit scepticism towards what Tromly considers the prevalent fictional conventions of Bronte's time, progress and moral growth. Because of the narrative complexity in 'ane Eyre, such argument is most successful with The Professor and Villette. While William Crimsworth and Lucy Snowe maintain a set opinion of themselves, Jane Eyre's selfimage fluctuates in response to others. Complicating this fluctuation is the variable distance between Jane and the reader; as Tromly acknowledges , Jane earns 'her reader's grudging assent' (p 44). One of the tests in reading 'ane Eyre is not to overlook the romantic autobiography's limitations through this assent. But it is also possible to err in the other HUMANITrES 425 direction. To read all of jane's narrative as personal myth-making is to undervalue Bronte's control. For instance, Tromly regards the rhetoric of chapter XII as romantic delusion. She grants no historical validity to jane's complaint that women need to exercise their faculties as much as men. But in the complex pattern of past and present tenses Bronte has collapsed the distance between the mature and the younger jane. To see jane only as dominated by romantic imagination is to miss the point: the rhetoric is out of control: out of jane's control but not Bronte's. The mature jane is no more satisfied with 'perfect concord' and Rochester than was young jane with life before Rochester. In reading everything solely as jane's self-aggrandisement, Tromly misses the criticism of absolute marital concord which Bronte the controlling artist implies. Tromly does, however, explain why jane writes and why St john dominates the final page. She also achieves what no previous study offered: a satisfactory defence of The Professor's artistic unity and control. And although her analysis undervalues the comedy in Lucy Snowe's art, Tromly's argument that Lucy writes to vindicate her terrible sense of Fate provides a cogent explanation of Villette. The book recalls the master's thesis which preceded it: chapters begin with the standard view of criticism and so are encumbered initially with footnotes to every sentence. Of course, such a departure must prove itself against previous interpretations, yet Tromly too easily assumes that art is...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 424-425
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.