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HUMANITIES 447 leads Heath to stretch his case a bit. When he discusses the novels up to Scoop he maintains his argument by asserting that these novels imply the opposite of what they state - well, up to a point, Lord Copper. A book as complete as this should perhaps have gone further to consider Waugh's biographies and travel books. However, these are minor quibbles. As Heath states in his preface, 'there were many routes which might have been taken, but in the end this is the book which got itself written' (p xiv). The Picturesque Prison is of great use to anyone interested in modern fiction and indispensable to the specialist in Evelyn Waugh. (PETER HINCHCLIFFE) John Fraser. America and the Patterns of Chivalry Cambridge University Press. X, 301. $19-95 In the late 1880s, a hundred years after Edmund Burke had lamented the passing of the chivalric age, chivalry was thriving in the United States, a nation founded on those anti-aristocratic revolutionary principles that would seem so hostile to it. Chivalry was so healthy, in fact, that Mark Twain felt the need to try to put it down and devoted an entire novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), to an attack on its anachronistic, empty, and dangerously false notions of glory, class privilege, and ritual violence. As John Fraser points out in the illuminating first chapter of America and the Patterns of Chivalry, the central ideological conflict of Twain's book is clearly shown in the climactic tourney: the champions of common sense, science, and equality encounter and annihilate the representatives of archaic, superstitious knight-errantry. But the effect of this combat and the ultimate values it reveals are not so straightforward. The businesslike, technological slaughter of the foolhardy knights (25,000 of them) and the concomitantdestruction of all Camelot's 'civilized' improvements make it very difficult for the reader to sympathize with the forces of modern republicanism, let alone criticize the foibles of an 'outmoded' chivalric ethic. The ambivalent presentation of chivalric values in A Connecticut Yankee represents, according to Fraser, a fundamental ambivalence that runs through American intellectual, imaginative, and political life. The American consciousness dwells both in the pragmaticdaylight world - rational, progressive, egalitarian - and in the romantic twilight world - irrational, anachronistic, and aristocratic. This paradox, as Fraser terms it, cuts across American attitudes and institutions and, when viewed in the proper light, helps to explain uniquely American conceptions of violence and honour. Despite his title's promise, Fraser wisely does not attempt to deal with all of 'America' - the whole beast - but cuts off a digestible chunk, the 448 LETTERS IN CANADA 1982 important forty-year period from 1880 to 1920 when the United States was beginning to realize its full potential, nationally and internationally. What America and the Pattern of Chivalry offers is essentially a cultural and political history of this era, one presented specifically by means of the ways in which certain ideals and codes of behaviour were played out in various contexts - in business, education, labour relations, government , and the arts. lt is Fraser's attempt to come to terms with such capacious abstractions as honour, peace, violence, and justice and with the full breadth of American social and political life at this particularly broad historical period - a period encompassing robber barons and revolutionaries , Mugwumps and Wobblies, trust-busters and strike-breakers , San Juan Hill and Chateau-Thierry - that is responsible for both the strengths and weaknesses of his book. Although some might feel that Fraser quotes too often (roughly four or five sentence-long quotations per page) and that paraphrasing might be a welcome change now and then (we really don't need three passages to illustrate Teddy Roosevelt's 'youthfulness'), one of the virtues and pleasures of this book is its eclecticism and range of reference. Interspersed among passages from standard political, sociological, and historical accounts of the period are numerous quotations from contemporary sources - authentic voices from the era gleaned from literature high and low, popular magazines, biography, autobiography, and speculative works - as well as descriptions of topical cartoons, illustrations, and advertisements . Fraser's prose is, moreover, both fluid and lively; he slides easily...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 447-449
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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