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HUMANITIES 495 was perhaps most lacking. Unlike the vitriol of the astonishing letter that Emma wrote to her sister-in-law Mary Hardy ('You are a witch-like creature & quite equal to any amount of evil-wishing & speaking - I can imagine you, & your mother & sister on your native heath raising a storm on a Walpurgis night'), Florence's insults are not delivered directly but conveyed in epistolary underhand. to mutual friends, who will in turn be judged to others behind their backs. When such incautious complaints are regretted, the regret seems engendered :r;nore by mere fear of discovery than any conspicuous sense of shame. . But if Florence emerges in these letters as more than a little duplicitous and self-pitying, she had much for which to pity herself. Plagued by poor health, anxious to protect a frail husband, some years older than her own father, from the invasions attendant upon his eminence, worried about her less economically secure sisters, cloistered in a gloomy house from which domestic and nursing responsibilities rarely allowed her to escape for any length of time, she seems an eerily appropriate companion for a man who marked his eighty-sixth birthday with the composition of a poem entitled rie Never Expected Much.' Both wives may well have expected rather more from marriage than it gave them, but one thing it gave both was access to a public world that on their own talents they would certainly not have entered. These letters provide a fascinating opportlillity to see aspects of that world, and of the man who opened it to them, through the eyes of two women who derived very palpable but equivocal benefits from it. They are an invaluable complement to Hardyfs own correspondence, and are presented with the same impeccable editorial skills that distinguished those earlier volumes. (KEITH WILSON) Robin P. Hoople. Distinguished Discord: Disconlim1ity and Pattern in the Critical Tradition of 'The Tum of the Screw' Bucknell University Press. 328. us$42.50 A century has passed since Henry James's The Turn of the Screw first appeared in 1898. Those hundred years have yielded an extraordinary volume of critical response to the novella. With a faith in 'the cumulative process of establishing meaning,' Robin P. Hoople sets out, in this booklength study, to review and synthesize the stages of Screw criticism, beginning with reviews that appeared at the time of its first publication, proceeding chronologically through the disputes of the middle part of the century, and merely 'tailing off into the late 1980s. The book provides a valuable, if finally truncated, introduction for scholars new to the currents and conflicts in the novella's critical tradition. Howeverf Hoople disappointingly withholds his own sustained, original contribution to the 496 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 interpretation of the text, often submerging and delimiting his most vivid commentary in his endnotes. Hoople's reader misses the anticipated culmination of the book's scrupulous work and, in its place, finds too much carping and quibbling about the bibliographical oversights of others. The first chapter, 'Naive Public Reading/ thoroughly surveys Screw's first reception in journalistic reviews from October 1898 to mid-1899. Chapter 2, 'The Genesis of a Critique/ covers the period from 1899 to the cusp of the 1920s, moving beyond those first reviews through to the years right after James's death in 1916. Hoople interpolates the desultory attention to Screw during this period with the growing body of writing on James's entire career; the chapter centres on James's own commentary on the tale in his 1908 New York Edition preface. Hoople's consideration of criticalvoices, in these early chapters, is the most comprehensive I know of. He is able to bring out subtle critical variations from the argot and formulae of commercial reviews. Yet to the category of 'na'ive readings' we certainly must add Hoople's abiding trust that these earliest responses are uniquely 'uninfluenced by the views of other readers.' The novella's earliest respondents may have not yet been able to read the opinions of their peers on James's tale. However, surely this fact cannot support Hoople's extension that these readings are able to avoid 'the risk of intrusion...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 495-497
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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