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HUMANITIES 143 unchanged, and which need to be bent to accommodate women writers' and editors' experience of what Doody calls 'the fragile, funny work of "creating a text.11I In the bending, the editors reveal the masculine academic biases inherent in the older principles they now join in revising. Despite these revelations, both Hutchison and Doody are concerned to integrate the problems of editing women with those of editing men. What the essays show, indeedl is that a feminist political perspective has made an invaluable service to the principles of textual editing generally, by raising the questions of voice, of collaborators welcome and unwelcome, of editorial and family suppression, and of audience reception that are of critical concern to all textual editors at the end of the twentieth century. Doody 'seers] no reason to believe that men and women must be hunting different Snarks forever and a day.' Many of the papers contain the 'doubting' that Coldwell identifies between her scholarlywork on Wilkinson and Wilkinson's own interactions with the world outside her text. Three ofthe contributors, for example, refer to the question of their editions being published in paperback form. That version of Black's Three Guineas edition will be delayed for reasons of copyright; both Coldwell and Grundy regret that publishers' decisions to produce hardcover editions only, for an implied audience of family members or of reference-library consulters, will continue to restrict the opportunities of students and general readers to get to know Anne Wilkinson or Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. (LESLIE HOWSAM) Trevor Ross. The Making ofthe English Literary Canon from the Middle Ages to the Late Eighteenth Centllnj McGill-Queen's University Press. x, 400. $65.00 Canon formation in Britain is often said to have begun in the eighteenth century. Trevor Ross pushes the genesis back nearly three centuries. In this far-ranging book he tells how canon formation was affected by a 'protracted cultural shift' from a system of rhetorical exchange that valued production to an objectivist culture predicated on consumption. According to the rhetorical paradigm, poetry was instrumental to a network of social relations wherein it stimulated patronage/ fostered more writing, and 'reproduced' the national culture. The currency of this system was 'symbolic capital - that is, fame, prestige, honour, recognition.' Authorial standing found its analogue in 'the ideology of civic humanism': the 'poet-statesman' upheld the values of honour and 'devotion to the public realm.' Poetry was 'central to the moral economy of state,' its canonical status measured by its 'verbal power' to circulate symbolic capital, an 'endless conversation' effective 'only so long as it was rehearsed again and again within a literary tradition it helped to authorize.' 144 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 By contrast, the objectivist approach to canon formation was oriented towards the idea of singular authorial worth as objectified in works of intrinsic value and consumed by an autonomous audience. Hierarchy replaced harmony as an ordering principle, and the demarcation of an author's work became crucial to canonization. Determinations of value associated with civic humanism gave way to 'a newer ideology of commercial humanism' that charted personal enrichment in tenns of 'ever more refined acts of consumption.' For the reader as consumer, knowing literature was equivalent to 'earning cultural capital, the measure of accredited competence at assessing the meaning and value of cultural goods.' Cultural capital (not symbolic capital) and knowledge (not verbal power) became central to canonicity. This dichotomy undergirds a subtle narrative in which Ross stresses the I unsystematic way' these ideas were altered under politicaland philosophical pressure as well as the corning of print. A rough chronology may be of some help. By the late sixteenth century, poets desirous of a canon began to foster the notion of Britain as a new Parnassus. These earliest of professional authors promoted a literary system to enhance English literature and by the1620s were fashioning a canon after their own image. Meanwhile the material trappings of canonization began to appear: after 158.0 symbols of laureate status began to adorn the portraits of poets, and the physical book became a monument in 1616 with the printing of Ben jonson's Workes in folio, the 'first self-consciously canonical edition of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 143-145
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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