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316 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 postmodem techniques such as irony and parodYI which here work in the service of postcolonial strategies. Barcelo critiques the sacrosanct Quebec myth of'collectivite' by deploying a cultural multiplicity and cross-cultural awareness that betray a distinct 'thrust to disunity.' Bowering's text parodically rewrites George Vancouver's West Coast explorations. Both novels, Vautier suggestsl revise 'traditional nation-centered founding myths in their efforts to decolonize the mind.' Yet both texts also feature clearly the precarious status of the alternative possibilities they imagine. Vautier thus reads New World Myth as texts that problernatize the claims and certainties of traditional cosmogonies and myths. The works she analyses operate between fiction and reality, and navigate between narratorial desire to mythologize and strategies to expose the mythologizingprocessl in order to offer indigenous perspectives and create liberating revisions of Old World accolillts of New Worlds. Vautier's wide-ranging study uses the substantial tradition of research on myth to help us rethink postmodern and postcolonial strategies. Her work is also an example of recent studies in comparative Canadian literature that are little interested in essentializing terms of comparisonl but rather read across linguistic and cultural divides to explore important problematics without artificial disciplinary restrictions. Her book is a valuable. addition to this ongoing process of rethinking North American literary spaces. (WINFRIED SIEMERLINC) Robin Wood. Sexual Politics ofNarrative Film: Hollywood and Beyond Columbia University Press. x, 356. us $49.5°, us $19.50 Announcing that this is to be his last book of film criticisml Robin Wood immediately sets up a certain rapport with his reader. Because Wood's work is distinguished by its spirited erudition and insight, one reads this final book with regret; but his confiding this decision also implicitly signals something of the book's engagingly idiosyncratic tone. Wood distances his writing from the concerns and methods of theorists and scholars, aspiring to what he calls the 'almost lost status of the critic/ a sensibility which, eschewing objectivity on principlel instead demands a heartfelt analysis of specific texts and culminates in their critical evaluation. Partly polemicat enviably fluid in range, and occasionally but pointedly autobiographical, Sexual Politics and Narrative Film manifests its author's lifelong dedication to cinema; most of the movies examined are those that Wood has come to love. Reminiscent of Susan Sontag's gift for focused dexterity, these essays move far beyond the strictures associated, for good or ill, with academic discourse. WoodIs fascination with film cannot however, be extricated from his awareness of the political and historical matrix into which both art HUMANITIES 317 and individuals are dynamically embedded. Delightmingles with griefand exasperation on almost every page. Douglas Fetherling once advised: 'Be a hostile witness to your times.' While hostility is an uncomplicated critical position (though instrumental perhaps as a political strategy), bearing witness to one's historical moment is an exacting responsibility, requiring an engaged, yet discriminating, hermeneutic stance. Wood meets this dilemma by self-conciously historicizing his identification with the affirmative values of F.R. Leavis, Norman O. Brown, and many aspects of radical feminism. (Readers tmfamiliar with Wood might turn to Hitchcock's Films Revisited for a thorough explication of his position.) Wood's critique of a historically ubiquitous patriarchy and its dangerous merging with capitalism - the 'narrative' grounding his argument - is realized through perceptive treatments of diverse films. Contextualizing his premises through readings of such 'Ur-films' as F.W. Murnau's Sunrise and Leni Reifenstahl's Triumph of the Will, Wood argues that in its unresolved obsession with the heterosexual couple, Western culture is continuously menaced by an internal desire to seek fascist solutions. Incisive critiques present George Cukor's Gaslight, Leo McCarey's work, and Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game as movies that presciently explicate the recent backlash against feminism. Wood's sustained and sometimes caustic engagement with the commentary surrounding Yasujiro Ozu most clearly illuminates his critical poetics. . Arguing that the usually discredited Mandingo is 'an abused masterpiece,' Wood extends his critique to include representations of race. While sympathetic and intimately informed analyses show Anne Wheeler and Richard Linklater, among several other directors, to be capable of imagining social relationships that provide alternatives...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 316-318
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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