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HUMANITIES 473 teenth-century' about her book, which embraces a spectrum of writers from Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, and Wilkie Collins, to Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herman Melville, and Henry James. Transitions between texts are sometimes uneasy; for example1 WiesenthaJ negotiates crossing the Atlantic and the gap between the Romantic period and late Victorianism in the transition from Gilman to Austen by noting that 'just over a century prior to the appearance of "The Yellow Wallpaper" in America, the 14 year-old Jane Austen wrote ...' For Wiesenthal, the relationship between Gilman and Austen is rhetorical rather than historical; it inheres in how each deals with the problems of inscribing madness in first-person narrative texts. Readers in search of an addition to the rich legacy of literary-historical studies on Romantic and Victorian madness, gender and culture, may be disappointed . But Wiesenthal in fact pre-empts such expectations with the disclaimer that her concern is not usually 'the underlying causal factors of psychopathology,' or the 'social or political contexts in which illness, as a cultural event, occurs.' And indeed, her focus on the symptom as rhetorical entity offers scope for a range ofnuanced and highly sophisticated readings ofboth canonical and relatively underdiscussed texts-Jane Austen's 'Love and Freindship/ and Wilkie Collins's Heart and Science, for example. - Throughout, she provides deft surrunaries of critical debate about the texts under discussion (particularly useful in the complex case of James's The Turn of the Screw), and her interventions in ongoing critical dialogue are often illuminating and provocative. The final chapter, in particular, is a tour de force of the question governing Wiesenthal's explorations: how the representation of madness poses formal and stylistic problems for the author and interpretive problems for the reader. Drawing on Kleinian and Lacanian theories of infant splitting and fragmentation, Wiesenthal reads Melville's Moby-Dick not only as imagistically recovering the pre-origins of the ego in the novel's concern with dismemberment and ~ody-bits,' but also as explaining the symptomatology of psychosis and emphasizing the paranoic compulsion to control meaning. (JILL MATUS) Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster, editors. The Cambridge Compmzion to Jane Austen Cambridge University Press. xiii, 252. us$54.95 cloth, us$17.95 paper Ifa companion is an encouraging helpmeet, the Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen supplies us with just the kind of information we need to become sharper, more appreciative readers of her. This book summarizes and extends our knowledge, surveys the critical and biographical fields, and suggests fresh readings while only rarely standin.g in the way of our own. The chapters of the Companion are frarned by Deirdre Le Faye's indispensable chronology and BruceStovel's knowledgeable guide to further 474 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 reading. Jan Fergus grieves the heart with her expert account of the lowly status of women writers, and cannot conclude that Jane Austen wrote herself into even temporary wealth. Margaret Anne Doody argues for Jane Austen's reinvention of herself into a respectable Regency writer quite unlike the libidinous composer of the short fiction, which she finds rough, violent, sexy, joky, and a very frightening philosophical production on the part of a young woman. But though the novels seem tamed, she observes traces of their antique vitality in the occasional trope of mud. The incoherence and indecorum of the letters are similarly striking, says Carol Houlihan Flynn, but their habit of surveillance more than justifies the description of Jane Austen as a poker. If Rachel Brownstein and John Wiltshire provide more traditional close readings and even summaries, the editors return us firmly to contexts. Juliet McMaster's precise rankings expose a conunoclity culture based on class, and Edward Copeland's financial focus produces suggestive new readings for Emma and Persuasion in particular. He makes a genuine new find about the origins of Mr Knightley. Gary Kellyfs rather general review of Jane Austen's religious and political context does illuminate first- and third-person narratives as authority versus subjectivity, with her free indirect style landing her somewhere in the political middle; while John F. Burrows invokes Bakhtinian dialogisrn to account for the comic, disjunctive mobility of her language. But the piece is somewhat spoilt...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 473-474
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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