In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

216 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 Since the new protagonist's inward essence is revealed through her text, she generally seeks to abjure literary artifice so that her writing may become pure transparency and spontaneity. Roulston explores the paradoxes implicit in this project. The very word 'authentic' tries to encapsulate a presence precluded by the endlessly mediating structure of language. Other paradoxes are more specific to the form of the sentimental narrative. A woman's wish to discloseherself fully implies a process ofselfcensorship at odds with the goal of transparent writing. Julie in La nouvelle Heloise must monitor her inmost desires if she is to produce a text she can show both her husband and St Preux; in order to reveal the virtuous self, she must veil the desiring self. This paradox is further illuminated in Roulston's study of Les liaisons dangereuses, where she shows that 'the language of authenticity, focused as it is on the revelation of the feminine, is also a way of controlling feminine excess.' Madame de Merteuil's pockmarked face is a transparent text, but also a punitive one. Roulston also explores the issue of authenticity in relation to the reader. Richardson and Rousseau have the explicitgoal of creating heroines worthy of imitation; what to say, however, of the emotional authenticity of a woman who models herself on a literary creation? Again, Les liaisons dangereuses serves as an extreme case, for Madame de Merteuil learns to mimic the tender lover or the virtuous woman by reading of such women. The problem of reader response is far-reaching, and Roulston quotes Madame de Stael on the relationship between reading and feeling: IOn ne peut plus rien eprouver sans se souvenir presque de l'avoir lu.' The act of reading teaches us how and what to feel; the very concept of authenticity is undermined when the text, rather than the human heart, becomes the primary locus of emotion. Roulston's thoughtful, perceptive studyis highlyrecommended not anIy for the eighteenth-century scholar, but also for the reader interested in gender studies or the history of subjectivity. The book's Derridean framework is illuminating without being obtrusive, and Roulston's lucid, elegant prose is a pleasure to read. (DIANE HARRIS) Stephanie Fysh. The Work(s) ofSamuel Ricl1ardso11 University of Delaware Press 1997.156. us $29.50 What is the connection, asks Stephanie Fysh, between Samuel Richardson as printer and as novelist? Her answer, in The Work(s) ofSamuel Richardson, merits serious attention from scholars interested in the interconnected histories of the book as a material artifact and of 'the immaterial text of literary criticism.' In chapter I, Fysh surveys theoretical distinctions between the concepts of 'text' and 'book' as proposed by Robert Escarpit, Roger Chartier, Jerome HUMANITIES 217 McGann, and Peter Shillingsburg. Fysh herself proposes 'use text' as the most fitting descriptor for the entities she then analyses in subsequent chapters because the term 'recognizes that there are uses for material texts other than reading and interpretation,' Chapter 2 re-evaluates The Apprentice's Vade Mecum (1734) in the context of the labour concerns within Richardson 's printing house in order to propose an alternative to the received view ofRichardson as a benevolentpaternalist. Chapter 3takes on the tantalizing but treacherous task of performing readings of various'use texts' of Pamela that have, in fact, disappeared, such as the destroyed waxwork tableaux of scenes from the novel, Francis Hayman's lost paintings of Pamela for the supper boxes in Vauxhall Gardens, and the ladies' fan, no longer in existence , on which scenes from the heroine's life were depicted. Fysh'sspeculations on these absent 'conunodifications' of Pamela are both daring and original. In chapter 4, Fysh turns to the world of literary criticism and explores her 'reservations' about readings of Clarissa Harlowe's mad paper 10 by John Preston, Terry Castle, and Frances Ferguson. Fysh illuminates differences in typography and layout from edition to edition of Clarissa that, in turn, render each 'material text' of paper 10 significantly different, thereby exposing apparent variationsin critical reading as actual misreadings. Fysh further argues that Richardson enabled such variability through an unusual process of angled typesettingnot mentioned in printingmanuals ofhis day. Chapter 5 returns...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 216-218
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.