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244 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY sonal detail which is not only inconsequential but boring. Yet the ,material is there, and'in spite of the petulance which mars so many of its pages) this book is an honest and revealing record of experiences which translates the war into personal terms. If in this case they are occasionally distorted by the personality of the author, there is ,still enough clear and vigorous writing to make the positive merits of the book far outweigh its very real shortcomings. ELizABETHAN SOCIETY AND LETTERSt MALCOLM MACKENZiE Ross It is inevitable that our generation should perform a sociological autopsy on, the body of past literature. "At a time when the moder'n world seems about to disintegrate into chaos it is natural for us to spe~ulate curiously on the origins of our present way of life."2 The scholarship of fact for the sake of fact and the criticism of art 'for the sake of art seem equally superficial and unsatisfactory in this tim'e of the breaking of nations. The emphasis on the sociological approach to literature which began more than a decade I ago to dominate the critical writings of the "little journals" is increasingly evident in the work of the academic scholar. The Modern Language Association has recently introduced a section forthe discussion of "Literature.and Society" at its annual meeting; and the Committee on Renaissance Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies exhibits a new and vital interest in literary history which will "attempt to describe and explain the relation of [thisJ literature to other intellectual and emotional forces, as well as to economic, social, and political conditions."3 There can be no doubt that the more advanced scholar of our ITlte State in Shakespeare's Greek and Roman Plays, by JAMES PHILLIPS, JR. New York, -Columbia University Press. Drama and Society in the Age of Jonson, by L. C. KNIGHTS. London, Chatto and Windus. Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England, by LOUIS B. WRIGHT. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press. , England's Eliza, by ELKIN CALHOUN WILSON. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Universi ty Press. "Anti-Democracy in Shakespeare: A Re-Survey," by BRENTS STIRLING (Modern Language !i2.uarterly, Il, no. 3., 1941). , 2Louis B. Wright, "Introduction to a Survey of Renaissance Studies," (Modern Lnnguage ~uarterly, II, 1941, 355). 3Ibid.} 361. REVIEWS 245 day is seeking to free himself from the bonds of subjectivism and narrow specialization. But I would not imply that his dissatisfaction with romantic criticism and orthodox literary history has led him always to a sure methodology. The works listed above, all of them sociological in concern, by no means represent a u~ified "movement" in purpose or in method. And the diversity of aims and techniques evident here is consequent not only upon differences in political bias, but also upon the tentative,-.experi- .mental n~ture of the new lCsearch for truth." The litei!~ry man, impelled by the ruling passion of his age to"seek in social history the explanation of cultural phenomena, often approaches t~e task nervously, conscious of the frown of his less adventurous colleague "the safe scholar," conscious, too~ of the social scientist's quizzical smile as, con:temptuous and unafraid, he observes his province invaded by the rank amateur. Perhaps for safety's sake, the ' literary scholar clutches the hand of the tallest stranger he can find in the strange new land. Dr Phillips will not so much as tip-toe without Professor Allen at his side. Mr Knights marks the footsteps of Professor Tawney. Nor are they to be criticized for their'deference to the authority of the historian and the political economist. The trouble is not that they have jilted Kittredge and Bradley for a pack of outlanders-some transference of allegiance was necessary. The danger lies rather in the mechanical divisions which still beset the social sciences themselves. It may indeed serve the interests of the academic curriculum to separate politic's from economics. But it is unsafe for the literary scholar to adopt these curricular divisions in reaching out for a new synthesis of social and cultural values. The sociological criticism of literature, to be...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 244-254
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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