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Critic's Choice
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Contributions are welcome. To qualify for inclusion in Critic's Choice, a book must receive a favourable review without a single negative comment. Mail copy of the review to Litir Database, PO Box 8775, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3S3.

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Alexander, Christine, and Juliet McMaster, eds. The Child Writer From Austen to Woolf. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. Reviewed in Brontë Studies, (06) 31/Pt. 1/Mar: 87-88, by Robert Barnard.

"All the introductory essays are full of interesting insights, suggestions of how such writings should be approached, and revelations of little-known texts that might be investigated. . . . Alexander's magisterial survey of Charlotte [Brontë's] use of fictional narrators augments all her earlier work on this enormous body of material and shows how it relates to autobiography and the author's sense of self." - Robert Barnard, Brontë Society.


Cleere, Eileen. Avuncularism: Capitalism, Patriarchy, and Nineteenth-Century English Culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2004. Reviewed in Victorian Studies, (06) 48/3: 547-549, by Eileen Gillooly.

"Cleere has given us a curious, intriguing, impressively researched, agreeably written, and exhaustive argument for the importance of 'uncle' in nineteenth-century England: as concept and symbol, familial presence, social figure, literary character, and economic trope. . . . Even while addressing an impressive array of materials . . . Cleere demonstrates an unusual attention to textual detail in the service of a complex sociopolitical argument." - Eileen Gillooly, Columbia University.


Dillingham, William B. Rudyard Kipling: Hell and Heroism. London & New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. xi+383p index. Reviewed in Kipling Journal, (06) 80/317/Mar, by David Page.

"This study . . . will be required reading for anyone who henceforward attempts to make a serious study of Kipling's works, or the man himself. . . . Dillingham has tackled those things that have been dismissed in the past, and those where there has been a complete polarisation of views, demonstrating that there is a consistent and coherent message underpinning so much of Kipling's works and explaining the links between them." - David Page, Editor, Kipling Journal.


Foulkes, Richard. Lewis Carroll and the Victorian Stage: Theatricals in a Quiet Life. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005. xi+224p illus. Reviewed in English Literature in Transition, (06) 49/3: 356-359, by Michel W. Pharand.

"What emerges from this study - the first to examine this aspect of Carroll's life in such detail - is the portrait of a man enchanted by the theater but intolerant of any impropriety, vulgarity, or profanity on the stage. . . . Foulkes has set Carroll's observations . . . against a colorful backdrop of details about the actors, plays, and theaters of his day, and complemented his study with . . . illustrations from contemporary publications." - Michel W. Pharand, Kobe University.


Gallagher, Catherine. The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2006. xii+209p. Reviewed in Nineteenth-Century Literature, (06) 61/1/Jun: 103-107, by Rosemarie Bodenheimer.

"The 'long migration' that Gallagher charts from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries is the most satisfying account of the intermingled discourses of nineteenth-century economics and literature to date. . . . The book's many strands are most beautifully braided together in two central chapters on Dickens and George Eliot . . . . [The book] is a gift to the intelligence of every student of nineteenth-century culture." - Rosemarie Bodenheimer, Boston College.


Grant, Kevin. A Civilised Savagery: Britain and the New Slaveries in Africa, 1884-1926. London & New York: Routledge, 2005. xii+223p. Reviewed in American Historical Review, (06) 111/2/Apr: 438-439, by Seymour Drescher.

"Grant's aim is twofold. He wishes to bridge the historiographical gap in British antislavery studies between the high tide of the movement during the early nineteenth century and the encoding of antislavery into international law . . . in 1926. . . . Grant underscores the complexity of humanitarian and human right reform during the period of high imperialism and aptly identifies his study as part of a global project requiring multiregional and multifaceted analyses." - Seymour Drescher, University of Pittsburgh.


Houston, Gail Turley. From Dickens to Dracula: Gothic, Economics, and Victorian Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. xiv+165p. Reviewed in Dickens Quarterly, (06) 23/1/Mar: 44-47, by Gill Ballinger.

"Houston's assessment of the connections between economic and literary discourse is a welcome addition to current work in this burgeoning area of research. . . . it offers fresh insights through its contemplation of the ways in which economics informs and is, in turn, transformed by literature in the mid-to-late nineteenth century." - Gail Ballinger, University of the West of England, Bristol.


Hughes, Linda K. Graham R: Rosamund Marriott Watson, Woman of Letters. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2005. xxv+397p. Reviewed in Victorian Periodicals Review, (06) 39/3: 300-302, by Linda H. Peterson.

"The life Linda Hughes narrates in this critical biography is a fascinating one . . . . beautifully told within a four-part structure that marks Rosamund's changing identities from Rose Ball, to Mrs. G.F. Armytage, to Graham R. Tomson, to Rosamund Marriott Watson. . . . it will come as no surprise . . . that it should be through periodicals - officially more ephemeral than books - that an important late-Victorian writer has been restored to life and perhaps even to lasting fame." - Linda H. Peterson, Yale University.


Millgate, Michael. Thomas Hardy: A Biography Revisited. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. xi+625p. Reviewed in English Literature in Transition, (06) 49/1: 69-73, by Stanley Weintraub.

"Few biographers have the good fortune to be able to rewrite so fully a major study twenty years later, and Millgate has made the most of it. . . . Millgate explores Hardy's early life and, with great sensitivity and a plethora of detail, his development from architect's assistant with greater ambitions into full-time professional writer." - Stanley Weintraub, University of Delaware.


Pike, David L. Subterranean Cities: The World Beneath Paris and London, 1800-1945. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2005. xviii+355p. Reviewed in American Historical Review, (06) 111/4/Oct: 1246, by Donald Reid.

"Pike analyzes representations of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century urban subterranean through readings of a variety of literary, architectural, pictorial, cartographic, and cinematic texts. . . . presented as responses to the challenges of modernization. . . . If his analysis is not always rooted in specific historical situations, this is . . . because he wrote it in what he considers the era of the rootless finance capitalism. However, this is a source of much of its insights." - Donald Reid, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


Toulmin, Vanessa, Simon Popple, and Patrick Russell, eds. The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon: Edwardian Britain on Film. London: British Film Institute, 2004. 201p illus. Reviewed in Victorian Studies, (06) 48/3: 560-562, by Laura E. Nym Mayhall.

"This collection . . . offers a new approach and should serve as a model of how film scholarship, when truly interdisciplinary, can contribute significantly to our understanding of film and film culture in the first decade of the new medium. . . . No other collection of essays on early British cinema attempts such a kaleidoscopic view." - Laura E. Nym Mayhall, Catholic University of America.


Waller, Philip. Writers, Readers, and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain, 1870-1918. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 1181p. Reviewed in English Historical Review, (06) 121/494/Dec: 1481-1484, by William Whyte.

"The remarkable thing about this extraordinary book is that throughout its thousand pages it remains consistently readable, enjoyable, and informative. . . . to understand life in late-Victorian and Edwardian Britain we must explore what was read, what was written, and why. . . . One is immersed in the lives and lifestyles of these readers and writers, and emerges at the end of the experience with a depth of knowledge about them and the period in which they lived" - William Whyte, St. John's College, Oxford.


 

 

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