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this set of essays will go a long way towards building the base of serious Wilde scholarship. Sarika P . Bose University ofBritish Columbia Maureen Moynagh, ed. Nancy Cunard: Essays on Race and Empire. Peterborough: Broadview, 2002. Pp. 305". $24.95'paper. In order to appreciate Nancy Cunard’s cultural work and radical politics, scholars must face the troubling challenge that lies in the irresolvable ten­ sion between Cunard’s subject position of white privilege and her choice of causes. Editor Maureen Moynagh transforms this disconcerting tension into an invaluable critical asset in Nancy Cunard’s Essays on Race and Empire. The beauty of Moynagh’s editorial strategy is in its compelling contextualization of Nancy Cunard and of her work. Moynagh’s insight­ ful, inclusive, yet theoretically specific introduction to the collection of Cunard’s essays, complemented by a cogent selection of appendices, pro­ vide the relevant cultural and historical grounds to understand Cunard and the implications her work holds for current scholarship. Reading Cunard’s essays through Moynagh’s carefully crafted context makes pos­ sible further revisionist readings of modernism by situating Nancy Cunard and her writing on race and empire in a way that advances understanding of the interdependent relationship between radical politics, gender, race and modernism. Nancy Cunard (1896-1969) confounds the usual categories of schol­ arly discourse because she behaved as if she could claim an independent agency that was not bound to or defined by traditional affiliations of class, gender and race. Allowing her passions to lead, rather than concerning herself with appearance or propriety, she inserted herself into cultural and political concerns that were not appropriate for a manor-born daughter of British imperial culture. Cunard, who in 1920 became a participant in the radial chic of Paris’s left bank, began her bid for independence as she took male and female lovers and refused to confine herself to the tradition of female fidelity. However, it was Cunard’s commitment to racial justice that marked her independence from avant-garde as well as traditional expectations. Although Nancy Cunard’s initial interest in African culture began with the avant-garde and modernist fascination with the primitive, her interest became a life-long passion for racial justice. Between 1930 and 212 ]McSpadden 1934, Cunard gathered the material for Negro, An Anthology (1934), a col­ lection of pan-African cultural and political history. Cunard’s identification with the cause of racial justice placed her political commitment outside what was acceptable for even a rebellious white woman of privilege. In the 1940s, her radical political work continued in her anti-imperialist writings for the growing anti-colonial movement that followed World War 11. However, while Cunard did affiliate herself with the ideals of racial and social justice, she remained— and remains— caught within her own subject position. As a daughter of privilege and empire, her sense of entitlement is a discomforting subtext in her analyses of and arguments against racial and class injustice. Cunard’s inability to inhabit an imperialfree subject position has allowed for deeply ambivalent assessments of her work as she can be placed within the categories of imperial traveler and sexual adventurer. Moynagh’s historically grounded and theoretically cogent introduction instructively engages Cunard’s attempt to identify herself as outside of her imperial class position. Considering Cunard’s self-identification with the cause of racial justice and constructing Cunard as a political tourist— a privileged traveler “whose aim is solidarity and partisanship” (35)— Moynagh reads the problematic subtext as a means to connect Cunard’s writing to current scholarly discourse concerning race, class and gender in productive ways. Moynagh breaks down her selection of Cunard’s essays on race and empire into three main categories: “Imperial Eyes,” “Miscegenation Blues” and “The Red and the Black.” Each category is contextualized in the intro­ duction as well as in the appendices so that the writing is situated within a particular theoretical and historical discourse. Cunard’s writing in the section “Imperial Eyes” include two essays from the anthology Negro, “Har­ lem Reviewed” and “Jamaica— the Negro Island.” Moynagh’s assignment of Cunard to the category of "political tourist” in these essays illustrates Cunard’s subversion of the travel...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1913-4835
Print ISSN
0317-0802
Pages
pp. 212-215
Launched on MUSE
2019-04-03
Open Access
No
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