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256 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 The most interesting sections of the novel are not those that concern Castruccio's exploits, which are based on historical accounts, but those that deal with the two female characters whom Shelley invents and inserts into the tale. Rajan calls this technique 'a mixture of the true and the counterfactual .' Like Sophia Lee, Virginia Woolf, and other womenwriters, Shelley imagines the lives of women who might have lived in history and 'constructs a lost female genealogy' by romantic invention. For Rajan, the I double legacy ofWollstonecraftor the discrepancybetweenwomen's creative potential and their biological fate is played out in Valperga through Euthanasia and Beatrice.' Euthanasia is an unusual character in Shelley's oeuvre because she is an independent woman, a respected sovereign, and remains unconstrained by men and marriage until the end. Beatrice plays out the more traditional conflict between power and sexuality. Her 'loss of access to imagination and language are caused by her awakening into sexuality.' One contemporary review of the novel sums up this reader's reaction to Valperga: 'We must confess, that in much of what we looked for, we have been disappointed; but yet, ... we do not hesitate to say, that if we have not met with what we expected, we have met with other things almost as good.' (ELEANOR TY) Catharine Parr Traili. The Backwoods ofCanada. Edited by Michael Peterman Carleton University Press 1997. lxxii, 336. $27.95 The eleventh volume in the series of scholarly editions of early Canadian prose classics issued by CEECT (the Centre for Editing Early Canadian Texts under the direction of Mary Jane Edwards at Carleton University), this edition of The Backwoods of Canada conforms to a now-familiar format. In addition to following exacting standards of editorial practice, this format is one that meets the interests of many different sectors of the scholarly community. For the social andcultural historian, there are meticulous notes identifying each text, person, or place, named or alluded to. For the specialist in print culture, there is a detailed publishing history of the book, as well as a summary of its reception history. For those interested in problems of textual editing and bibliography, there is expert discussion about the choice of copy-text - a choice determined by the particular composition and revision history of each work. And for the literary criticl there is the pleasure of working with a reliable edition. Catharine Parr Traill's The Backwoods ofCanada, describing her first two years (1832-34) in the Peterborough area and initially published in London in 1836, is generally regarded as the happy-camper version of Canadian pioneer experience. Uncomplaining and resolutely light-hearted, the narrator enacts her own maxim that 'a settler's wife should be active, HUMANITIES 257 industriousIingeniousI cheerful.' However, Michael PetermanIs introduction reminds us that trus 'carefully crafted' accountI written to reassure British families of emigrants as well as those contemplating emigration, should not be taken at face value. In the absence of the original letters from which the book derives, we will never know whether the rustorical Mrs Traill coped withher first Canadianwinters, illness, childbirth, and cultural deprivation quite as blithely as does her persona. Surviving correspondence from subsequent decadesI recently edited by the team of Carl Ballstadt, Elizabeth Hopkins, and Michael Peterman, recounts suffering and depression that never enter Traill's uplifting published accounts of Canadian flora, fauna, and social life. Peterman's thorough acquaintance with archival sources for Traill's personal and publishinghistory, accumulated through many years ofwork on the Strickland farnilYI resonates tluough his introduction and notes. With scholarly ease and affection for his subject, he deftly interweaves the story of her life with the production history of her best-known book. The account ofits appearance under the auspices ofthe Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge reminds us that books cannot be separated from the material contexts of their production; it is instructive to learn that Traill's publisher was prepared to pay almost as much for the illustrations as for the text. Especially significant is Peterman's solution to the problem of determining the reliable text for this edition, given the imperfect nature of the first edition and Traill's...


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