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175 Reviews Simmons’s style is accessible and engaging, so that ultimately The Narcissism of Empire is an enjoyable and rewarding read. It is not without its irritants, however, and at times one feels that, despite the author’s protests to the contrary, the theory does indeed restrict her vision. This is perhaps most obviously demonstrated by her narrow range of cross references; other writers of imperial fiction (and there were many) receive scant coverage, and thus one feels that Simmons subordinates her knowledge of imperialism and the literature of empire to the theory of childhood narcissism in just five authors.There are also some editing problems:“Ryder” instead of“Rider” Haggard is one notable example that should have been picked up. More perplexing, though, is the “Afterword,” in which Simmons engages with the September 11 attacks on theWorldTrade Center and their aftermath, comparing these events with the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Such a framing of awful human tragedy needs very careful and sensitive handling.This reader is not convinced that the kind of reflection on America’s role in the post 9/11 conflict that Simmons engages in is either appropriate or necessary to her argument. In the final analysis, though, the value of this volume lies in its contribution to theories of psychoanalysis and empire, and while its theoretical assumptions may be contentious for some, it nonetheless advances a stimulating and thought-provoking thesis that provides many new insights into the authors under discussion. Notes 1 I am thinking here of Conrad’s carefully researched attention to the history and culture of his Sulu and Bugis characters in his early Malay fiction, so skilfully explored in Robert Hampson’s Cross-Cultural Encounters in Joseph Conrad’s Malay Fiction. Conrad’s approach to imperialism in Africa is a more problematic, disputed territory that has been dealt with exhaustively since Chinua Achebe’s landmark attack on Heart of Darkness in 1977. Lin da Dry den Napier University • Women,Welfare and Local Politics 1880-1920 by Steven King; pp. ix + 364. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2006. $67.50 cloth. Stereotypes of philanthropic Victorian women would have it that they were either meddlesome busybodies in the mould of Dickens’s Mrs. Jellyby or political climbers who used charity work as a stepping stone and training ground for the real business of, say, suffrage campaigning. On a more specific and informed level, feminist historians have tended to characterize women’s victorian review • Volume 34 Number 1 176 work as poor law guardians in the lateVictorian and early Edwardian period as largely ineffectual because of the apparent decline of the poor law itself and the marginalization of women by resentful male counterparts. Steven King challenges these stereotypes and critical commonplaces in his case study of women’s role in welfare reform and local politics in Bolton, Lancashire, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. King’s analysis is oriented around the work of Mary Haslam, the most prominent figure in the Bolton women’s network.The first six chapters contextualize the operation of the new poor law in the latter decades of the century , both nationally and in Lancashire, and describe Bolton women’s daily work in the transmission of the poor law, both before and after they stood for election as workhouse guardians. Chapter 7 questions whether the election of women as poor law guardians in Bolton was a springboard to the development of a local feminist movement, or the reverse. Here King’s analysis is slightly less conclusive than in other sections of the book:“How to locate this poor law work in the context of their personal and collective feminist development , and indeed how to characterize the wider feminist movement of the 1890s, is ambiguous” (173). King usefully proposes a series of“yardsticks” by which we might judge the evidence of a connection between philanthropy and feminism in future local studies; these include personal histories, overlapping campaigns, the “local linguistic register of feminism,” the presence of female socio-political organizations, and the nature of the public recognition of feminism in a particular locality (171–72). In the second section of the book, King has reproduced portions of Mary Haslam’s...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 175-177
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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