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imminent apocalypse/ of selfish innovation and absurd destruction/ in the Letters on a Regicide Peace are traced to the satiric, Scriblerian mode of the Dunciad and Gulliver's Travels. Burke's distrust of literary men and philosophes is thus linked with Pope/s mockery of scribblers/ and Burke follows Pope's path from mocking the scribblers (in A Vindication ofNatural Societtj) to fearing their contribution to a significantly wider moral and cultural decay. In De Bruyn's accorn1t, satire succeeds to the tragic structure of the Reflections, and that succession illuminates the generic inadequacy of tragedy to a period of social change. The 'tragic' structure of the Reflections seems at first a paltry reading of the text that stops, as many readings of the Reflections seem to, with the fall of the royal family. When radicals mocked Burke's account of the queen, they rejected his definition of tragedy and turned from the heroic mode to more demotic genres. Contrasting dis~ missive reactions to the Reflections with the apotheosis of Charles 1 a century earlier/ De Bruyn seems to forget that Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were not dead yet. One mocker, Paine1 voted against death at the king's trial. The radical dismissal of Burke's tragic theatre tells us that radical confidence in progress subverted tragedy as genre but not as event. Although De Bruyn omits the conceptuat analytic struggles in the Reflections, his argument makes newly visible the curious serenity of Burke's conclusion: the certainty that there will be a younger generation to continue and to consider after France has passed through blood and fire. The Reflections moves through struggle to balance. At the end, in a moment of unobtrusive romantic reflection, we see the self-conscious activity of the man doing the balancing, moving his reasons from one side to the other. DeBruyn's text brims with insightful readings and useful facts/ such as the praise lavished in 1804 on the Duke of Bedford as improver of 'the low fat Bedford level.' Comparing Burke and Pope shows that Burke defended the gentlemen from charges Pope had made commonplace in the Essay on Ma11, the Moral Essays, and the fourth book of The Dunciad. There the problem is less impecunious scribblers than irresponsible, self-indulgent aristocrats. ·Burke's aggressive literariness, DeBruyn suggests, is his most influential argument. Attacked by both establishment and radical opponents in his own time as too rhapsodic and emotional, Burke/s heroic vision seemed outmoded to practical contemporaries, but sustained Victorian imperial self-construction for the next century. (REGINA JANES) Ian Dennis. Nationalism mrd Desire in Early Historical Fiction StMartin's Press. viii, 204. us$49.95 Written with clarity, precision, and wit, this book is an enormous pleasure to read. The blurb informs us that Ian Dennis is himself a historical novelist, 468 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 but he is clearly no dusty antiquarian. His prose sparkles with a gift for happy expression. Equally unusuat the book offers a fresh and intriguing perspective on the currently much discussed topic of nations and nationalism . Refusing the postcolonial approach that now dominates analysis of these issues, it turns instead to Rene Girard's psycho-anthropological m.odel of 'triangular' or 'mimetic' desire to argue that new and peripheral nations like nineteenth-century Scotland, Ireland, and the United States developed a sense of national identity in large part by 'imagining the way the nation is experienced by an Other, or really, the Other, the great, admired and feared, overpowering national example of England.' Struck by the persistence with which nineteenth-century national romances from these countries sought to attract the stranger (usually English and male), Dennis has set out to think the problem of the nation in a way that resists the allegorizing move whereby the erotic is dissolved into the politicaL Nationalism and Desire argues by contrast that the erotic energy driving the narratives of national tales always exceeds the political reductions we may make of it, and it is this erotic drive that Dennis wishes to take seriously. His book thus offers, in one sense at least, a postmodem take on Benedict Anderson's well-known but strangely under-rehearsed point that...


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