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HUMANITIES 225 as he continued the process of revision he changed his approach, engaging a poetics of discontinuity} synchrony, and typology which will be familiar to readers of Milton and Jerusalem. It is not unusual to consider Vala a transitional work in the Blakean canon, but Pierce provides a great deal of new evidence to support such an opinion, and perhaps more important, he re-examines the meaning of this transitional status. He does not propose a teleological reading of Vala as an attempt to reach toward the 'mature' or 'completed' style of the later epics; instead, he focuses on the contingent and provisional nature of Blake's process of composition, and he uses this approach to make a strong case for 'the fluidity of Blake's myth.' This book is an important antidote to the structural mythopoeic readings of Blake's canon which tend to impose the system of the later epics onto the poet's earlier works. Certain Blake critics influenced by deconstruction have made similar arguments in the last decade, but no one has done this with the kind of attention to the physical text that Pierce displays here. The most surprising aspect of Pierce's argument is his position on the 'incestuous intertextuality' between Vala and Blake's other epics. Most critics have assumed that the dozens of lines which Vala has in common with the other two epics must have been plundered from Vala after Blake had abandoned the poem. Pierce raises the intriguing possibility that Blake actually took these lines from the later poems and inserted them into the continualJy evolving manuscript of Vala. It is nearly impossible to prove such a contentionI but Pierce's argument is nevertheless useful because it requires us to rethink the possible relationships among Blake's three epics. Blake may well have continued to revise Vala during and even after the writing of Milton and Jerusalem. This possibility once again highlights the revisionary (as opposed to the visionary) quality of Blake's imagination. This is the kind of critical text that is most profitably read with a facsimile of the manuscript open before you; otherwise, the arguments can come to seemstrangelyabstractI despite the obvious fact oftheir specificity. But it is well worth the effort to follow this thoughtful, convincing, and admirably clear commentary on one of the most challenging poems in the language. (WARREN CARIOU) Mary Wollstonecraft. The Vindications: The Rights ofMen; The Rights ofWoman. Edited by D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf Broadview 1997· 488. $l2·95 The editors and publisher of this volume have filled a long-standing need for a new, accurate, affordable critical edition of Wollstonecraft's Vindications that keeps both scholars and students in mind. Scholars should welcome a number of the editors' decisions: the care taken in collating and 226 LETTERS IN CANADA 199B choosing among the early editions; the impeccably thorough notes and index of authors as well as key words; the inclusion of innovative - and in one case newly translated - contextual materials in the appendix. Students should find useful the careful contextualization and critical reading of the Vindications in the introduction; the uncluttered texts (making a smooth, unimpeded reading experience possible); and the readable typeface and white space for eye ease and note taking. Both introduction and index suggest, to an unprecedented extent, the many potential intertextual relationships of the Vindications. Authors' names from Aesop and Francis Bacon to Wordsworth, John Wycliffe, and Edward Young offer readers the gift of seeing, at a glance, what an omnivorous reader Wollstonecraft was; and topics from 'abortion' to 'writing' present readers with any number of new contextual frameworks -literary as well as cultural-within which to view this early 'vindicator' of human rights. The Broadview Press format enhances the usefulness of this volume. Better than any other kind of editi01:1 before it, it manages to replace a text in its original discursive environment, allowing readers to experience the vindications - if fleetingly - as their first readers might have. The section titles as well as the texts included in this edition's appendixes include instructive surprises. In appendix A,'The Revolutionary Moment,' readers can consult an excerpt from The Life of Olaudah Equiano and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 225-227
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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