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HUMANITIES 249 both to the ritual promptings of an indigenous custom, old and newly forged, and the slicker formulations of mass and middle-brow commercial confection.' Moreover, Bailey is convinced that culture was not imposed, butwas negotiated. Thusin 'A RoleAnalysis ofWorking-Class Respectability ' he argues that while it is true th~t respectability reflected a plebeian compliance with bourgeois norms, respectability could also be calculative, worn, like Sunday clothes, as a defence against middle-class charity. I Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday' also reflects, among other things, the democratization of leisure, bringing together high and low life, 'collapsing distinctions of class and caste, age and grace, in a new fraternity of the playful.' Issues of gender are discussed in a wonderfully revealing chapter on barmaids in which Bailey illustrates the theatre of pub life and the role played by the bar counter that separated the glamorous barmaid from pub customer. Significantly, the tensions inherent in this new 'parasexuality' were not imposed by male pub managers, but developed piecemeal, as a reflection of the sexualization of everyday life. The encounter between barmaid and punter was conditioned, Bailey argues, by what he calls the 'knowingness' at the heart of popular culture. As he observes in 'Champagne Charlie and the Music-Hall Swell Song' and in 'Music Hall and the Knowingness of Popular Culture,' which lie, literally and figuratively, at the heart of this collection, this knowingness defined the relationship between performer and audience, and in the process typified one form of proletarian response to the new diScipline of the Victorian city. Finally, Bailey's work demonstrates that the knowingness of popular culture was in part a performance that reflected the audience's wider knowledge of other cultural traditions. This collectioncloses emphatically the curtains on monocausal interpretations of distinct patrician and plebeian cultural experiences in the Victorian city. (CHRlSTOPHER P. HOSGOOD) Judith I(nelman. Twisting in the Wind: The Murderess and the English Press University of Toronto Press. xii, 322. $50.00, $21.95 This study of the conviction and punishment of women for murder in nineteenth-century England contains a detailed examination of about fifty cases. The book concentrates, as the subtitle suggests, on the public reaction to the murders, and to the trials and executions. Thi~ is the greatest strength of the book, which draws not only on newspaper accoWlts and commentary , but also on other published material such as pamphlets and the broadsheets that appeared in connexion with executions. Thebroadsheets often included doggerel verse in the form ofsententious and moralistic ballads, and many of these are reproduced in the book. For example, in the case of a woman convicted of murdering children in a 'baby-farming' operation, a broadsheet ballad included the following: 250 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 Will the hen drive the chicken from under her wing And leave it to perish, the poor little thing, Or will dumb brutes desert their offspring, ah! no, What proofs of affection animals show. Yet mothers alas their children will slay, Or else pay another to put it away. These populist commentaries point up the dramatic and moralistic aspects of punishment for murder. There is much to be learned about social attitudes from the material that Judith Knelman has examined. Trollope wrote that women ought to be 'soft, tender, and virtuous,' and his opinion was very widely held. The merit of this study is that it examines cases of women proved to be the opposite of these things. The author brings out very well the ambivalent attitude to be found at all levels of society. There was, on the one hand, a tendency to sympathize with the accused woman, especially when undergoing the horrors of capital punishment, and yet, at the same time, a tendency to condemn in the severest terms the perversion of womanly virtues. As an example of an invitation to sympathy we may take, from a newspaper account of an execution, 'all eyes were upturned to the halffainting form of the wretched criminal.' A good example of the harsh condenmation of perverted virtue occurs in a pamphlet of 1809: 'Women, as they are naturally much more amiable, tender and compassionate than the other sex become, when they pervert the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 249-250
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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