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230 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Further, he identifies >the ephemeral abstract nature of the text (the biscuit), and the permanent physical nature represented by the book ... Text is biscuit but book is tin and object.= Then we=re off on another excursion, to the British Museum=s old Reading Room for a potted history and another empty biscuit tin, the dummy bookshelf doors. What perhaps should have been a separate chapter on bindings is appended to the biscuits. There is the perhaps inevitable emphasis on ornate, decorative bindings, to the exclusion of mass market covers that of course had a far more widereaching role in culture, society, and literacy. The closing sections of this chapter, including images of women readers and the Bible, are interesting, but the subjects are all too briefly explored. This appears to be a book about the relationship between books and art, word and image. Without doubt, Curtis is strong on Dickens: his book comes to life in the Dickens chapters. Elsewhere it is at times a good and, as it advertises itself, interdisciplinary study, as far as it goes. But it has limitations, and its title promises more: so there=s a mere nod in the direction of William Thackeray, a brief mention of William Morris, and nothing on the Brontës. There are glances back to the eighteenth century and a conclusion mostly about the twentieth, although in the introduction Curtis suggests that the textual-visual relationship was a peculiarly nineteenth-century phenomenon. There=s a lot about Victorian periodicals, and a fair dose of Europe. It is perhaps unfortunate that the illustration on the back of the dust jacket is neither Victorian nor English. Perhaps it=s just the title of the book that=s wrong. (GILLIAN FENWICK) Kathryn Carter, editor. The Small Details of Life: Twenty Diaries by Women in Canada, 1830B1996 University of Toronto Press. xi, 486. $65.00, $34.95 As the editor notes in her introduction, >diaries= appear in a variety of forms. Excerpts here range from drafts for future completed works (Frances Ramsay Simpson), to aides-mémoires for housewives charged with the ongoing management of complicated households (numerous), to explorations of how one is living one=s life in ways that one may or may not wish to change (Marian Engel). In the twenty examples here, one finds plenty of tedious details, but among them are some real zingers. Constance Kerr Sissons quits writing for a space after (probably) meeting her new husband=s unsuspected long-term lover. During entries covering eighteen months, Sarah Welch Hill notes several serious instances of domestic assault on her by a husband who claims to have married her >for spite,= though it=s more likely he married her for her small inheritance. And the simplicity of Elsie Rogstad Jones=s notations about her second child during a fateful week in October 1943 conceals raw despair behind the common elements of diary humanities 231 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 style: October 16, 1943 B Phyllis sat on the kitchen floor by herself & watched me work. October 17, 1943 B Sun. Phyllis was sick this A.M. I thought it was flu but we took her to Islay Dr. Sweet had to operate. Started to rain. October 18, 1943 B Phyllis passed away at noon, B oh why B she was so healthy, sweet & good maybe someday we will understand. October 19, 1943 B [No entry] October 20, 1943 B [No entry] October 21, 1943 B Has rained for days Mom is with me to day. we washed clothes Mrs Ennis was up. Jimmy has a terrible cold. October 22, 1943 B Snowed last nite. It is so hard to take. It gets worse I miss my baby so Pat went to school to day I had 3 kids for dinner at noon. October 23, 1943 B Cold out feels like winter Pat stayed over last nite. I was busy all day baked 3 pumpkin pies Roy Doris & Elmer came in in the evening. The operative five-word phrase B >I miss my baby so= B might be...


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