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HUMANITIES 265 place to the horse in their practice as figure painters. At the same time, the horse offered Degas ideal terrain for his systematic exploration of the living body. Indeed Degas's equine representations could be said to have paralleled his interest in the actions of dancers and latmdresses. What the horse offered Degas was something like another kind ofbody - a body, if not quite gender-free, at least without human gender. The conclusion we should draw is that Degas's corporeal aesthetics sometimes operated outside the eroticized terrain of the beholder's gaze and the representation of the female nude. Like many painters of his time, Degas also treated problems of equine locomotion. In Degas's case the horse in motion served as an Impressionist litmus test - a temporal phenomenon that posed a high challenge to the painter's powers of observation. But Degas'S observations proved wrong. Like many painters of his day, he was impressed by Eadweard Muybridge's instantaneous photographs of animal locomotion, which circulated widely in Europe in the 1870S and 18805. Muybridge's stills established that while all four legs of a galloping horse did indeed leave the grotmd, at no point did they extend away from each other in the fashion of what we now term the flying gallop, -a pose Degas routinely used in his drawings and paintings of the 18605 and 1870S. Degas struggled with this new understanding : Boggs isolates numerous examples of Degas engaged in the awkward task of adapting his representations to the photographic evidence. Here was equine motion that Degas could understand but could not witness with his naked eye. Mysteriously, Degas stopped painting horses in the final years ofhis life. Some of the reasons aTe understandable: failing eyesight, a more confined lifestyle, and other practical constraints. But perhaps we should credit this suspension to Degas's unwillingness, and his frustration, at having to paint motion he could not himself see. Perhaps this is the sense in which equine representationbrought Degas's Impressionism to a definitive close. (MARC J. GOTLIEB) Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Aurora Floyd. Edited by Richard Nemesvari and Lisa Surridge Broadview Press. xxxvi, 634ยท $16.95 The Broadview edition of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Aurora Floyd has a great deal to recommend it. Nemesvari and Surridge provide an invaluable introductory essay that locates this novel in particular and the Jsensation' novel in general within the larger context of Victorian literary production. As well, the editors provide accurate, helpful, and non-obtrusiv:e textual alU1otation; a brief publishing history of the text which accounts convincingly for their choice of the first three-volume edition rather than the 266 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 stereotyped so-called 'eighth' edition used recently by P.D. Edwards for Oxford as the source text; and appendixes that include not only contemporary reviews but also polemics revealing anxieties about Victorian femininity which 'sensation' fiction seemed to provoke. I must admit, however, that while the editorial apparatus is wonderfully engaging, informative, and scholarly in the best sense, the primary reason to read this text is the story. Bigamy, blackmail, jealousy, murder, intimations of abuse, the threat of discovery and scandal: Aurora Floyd (1862-63) exemplifies the genre that Braddon herself helped to originate with Lady Audlet/s Secret (1861-62). At the heart of 'sensation' fiction is the belief or anxiety that appearances and reality do not always adhere, that domestic tranquillity is illusory. Braddon neatly sums this up in chapter 18 of Lady Audley'5 Secret: 'What do we know of the mysteries that may hang about the houses we enter? ... Foul deeds have been done under the most hospitable roofs, terrible crimes have been committed amid the fairest scenes, and have left no trace upon the spot where they were done. I do not believe in ... blood-stains that no time can efface. I believe rather that we may walk unconsciously in an atmosphere of crime, and breath none the less freely. I believe that we may look into the smiling face of a murderer, and admire its tranquil beauty.' In Aumra Floyd, we are not asked to look in the face of a murderer but a bigamist - the murder comes...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 265-267
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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