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420 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 ment, and learn a good deal about detailed but important points such as the additional chapter to Wild Wales that appears in some editions from 1865 onwards. The section on translations not only demonstrates Borrow's extraordinary versatility but provides information concerning such curiosities as his rendition of St Luke's Gospel into Romany. The brief section on anonymously published books is of particular interest because it discusses with authority and good sense the vexed question of Borrow's hand in Celebrated Trials and offers details plus illustrations of the Life and Adventures of the Famous Colonel Blood, a title only recently identified as Borrow's by Michael Collie. Even the amounts Borrow gained from the books published by John Murray are duly laid out in an appendix. The only previous bibliography of Borrow was compiled in slipshod and somewhat suspicious fashion by T.J. Wise in 1914. (Collie and Fraser have a fascinating note on Wise's treatment of Borrow manuscripts on p 139 which will interest anyone who has followed the long and often scandalous story of Wise's scholarly methods.) This new book puts the emphasis where itbelongs- on Borrowand his whole work rather than on Wise's own limited editions, aptly described here as ~assembly line publishing.' Packed full of valuable information on all aspects of Borrow, Collie and Fraser's study is one of those good books that ought to make other good books possible. (w.J. KEITH) Kerry McSweeney. Middlemarch George Allen and Unwin. 167. $22.95; $g.95 paper The individual studies in the UnwinCritical Library series are intended to provide for the serious student a comprehensive overview of a classic literary text: the intellectual and historical background, an extended discussion of the text itself, and a survey of the criticism. Kerry McSweeney's study of Middlemarch is particularly useful in its presentation of background material, not only in summarizing the relevant facts about Eliot's personal and intellectual history and about the novel's composition and serialization, and in relating the themes of Middlemarch to the preoccupations of contemporaries like Ruskin, Mill, and Carlyle, but also in calling attention to comments of Eliot's about her own work, passages which make clear the moral implications of her commitment to realism, her sense of herself as a kind of social scientist with a project very like Lydgate's, and her conception ofnovelistic unity as analogous to biological organization. The four central chapters of the book address familiar critical issues (social scope, narrative voice, characterization, and unity) methodically, trenchantly, and often perceptively. McSweeney's conception of Eliot's moral vision as a kind of secular Protestantism - his sense of the centrality of I the amazing grace of intense fellow-feeling' (p HUMANITIES 421 29) in the novel's 'humanistic economy ofsalvation' (p 28) - is shrewd and convincing, and puts into new perspective the redemptive encounters between the characters. He has as well a strong sense of the 'generic discontinuities' (p 78) of Middlemarch; certain features of the text are brought into useful focus by his discussion of Raffles as a Dickensian Doppelganger (p 90), by his observation that in her indulgent presen~ation of the landed gentry Eliot employs conventions of comedy not used for lower-class characters (p 78), and by his comparison of Dorothea both to the'Clarissa' type ofProtestantheroine and to the aspiring young woman at odds with her society described by Margaret Doody (pp 98-9). The fact that McSweeney chooses to open his discussion of Dorothea with a substantial quotation from another critic is emblematic of his method throughout. Dealing with a novel about which so much has been written, he has frankly chosen to make full use of work done by other readers. Such an approach is often useful: it makes sense to defer the classic solution of a classic problem to an earlier critic (to quote, for example, Barbara Hardy on sentimentality vs sexuality in Ladislaw's relationship with Dorothea, p 109), or to reflect the vexedness of a vexed issue with a survey of proposed solutions (as in McSweeney's rather ruthlessly dismissive summary of various attempts to assert the unity...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 420-421
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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