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HUMANITIES 253 theories of psychoanalysis.' Bruhm argues that with their attention to the symbolic order and the materiality of the signifier, the writings of Lacan and King are characterized by an Jalmost uncanny resemblance.' And finally essays on nineteenth-century women's writing (essays by Marianne Noble and Mary Chapman on Susan Warner and Louisa May Alcott) are notable for their negotiation of difficult political terrain: they enter into debates concerning the problematically masochistic pleasures of women's fiction. Noble argues that 'the desire for the ecstatic unmaking of identity ... pulses' throughout Warner's The Wide, Wide World. The sentimental heroine may be thrilled by patriarchal violence, but this very bodily experience (the thrill which is also the reader's thrill in identifying with the heroine) works to challenge the oppressive fiction of female disembodiment . Noble concludes that sadomasochism in sentimentality is both repressive and subversive. This is a gesture made by many of the writers in the collection, and in his 'Some.Stations of Suburban Gothic' Kim Ian Michasiw suggests that it has become a bit worn. Perhaps we should get over the fact that (most) literary texts refuse to be assigned a Singular political meaning; isn't this precisely what makes them worth reading in the first place? Many of the contributors to American Gothic credit Leslie Fiedler's Love and Death in the American Novel (1960). And certainly one hears the echo of Fiedler's concerns (the American Gothic is anxious about masculinity and male desire, and it is haunted by race). It is these concerns which finally 'resonate' in this collection. As Fiedler was engaged with psychoanalytic theory, so, too, are many of the writers in this volume (although this is now a psychoanalysis that has come through feminism and poststructuralist theory). I would suggest that American Gothic provides us with an occasion to consider the relationship between (psychoanalytic) theoryand American literature. A number of the essays remark onthe Gothic 'in' theory, provoking , if not fully engaging with the question of how to evaluate the Gothic tropes in the theoretical texts we tum to to read Gothic literary texts. The Gothic, it would seem, is woven into the very fabric of our therapeutic culture. As Maggie Kilgour in her 'Dr. Frankenstein meets Dr. Freud' notes, 'the gothic draws on the modern assumption that it is dangerous to bury things.' Thus one can no longerapplypsychoanalytic theory to literary texts. Instead one reads Lacan with Stephen King, Faulkner f alongside of Kristeva. We can not get outside in order to delimit our 'object' of study. (NAOMI MORGENSTERN) Michael J. Sider. Tlte Dialogic Keats: Time and History in the Major Poems Catholic University of America Press. x, 180 us $49.95 This book contributes to the revaluation of Keats as a political poet that has been gaining momentum over the last two decades. Originally a doctoral 254 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 dissertation, The Dialogic Keats is uneven, and would have benefited from a fairly substantial reconceptualization. Nevertheless it is a worthwhile attempt to employ Bakhtinian dialogical theory to the study of Keats. The first half of the book places Isabella within the context ofcompeting versions of romance. Following Marilyn Butler, Sider sees romance as a political genre that draws its liberatory possibilities from its affirmation of erotic love. Sider devotes three chapters to Wordsworth's 'Vaudracour and Julia' episode in The Prelude, Rogers's Jacqueline, and Hunt's The Story ofRimini on the way to a suggestive reading of Isabella in which the protagonist's necrophilic excess is read as a limited yet revolutionary gesture that subverts capitalism through carnivalesque mimicry. Though Sider intends the three chapters on Wordsworth, Rogers, and Hunt to provide a dialogical framework for understanding the dynamic aspects of romance, these interpretations~ largelycritical in character, donot producemuch that is dialogical. Each poem is largely interpreted on its own terms, since genre~ rather than the words that it employs, links it to the other poems. There is consequently little to distinguish Sider's approach to Isabella from a traditional genre/context study. I was also disappointed not to see a chapter on Lamia, which would seem to be an important revaluation of whatever revolutionary claims might...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 253-255
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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