Review by Choice Review
These 16 essays were written over a period of 17 years, postdating Kate Millett's Sexual Politics (1970) and Ellen Moers's Literary Women (CH, Dec '76). They are placed into four groupings: Jane Austen, Men's Women, Female Traditions, and Women Acting. Within these headings Auerbach discusses the works of such celebrated women as George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) and the Bronte sisters, but also such less likely persons as Dorothy Sayers and Ellen Terry. Among the men included are Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, and Robert Browning. Unifying this collection is the author's enduring fascination with the motifs of romantic imprisonment, which constitute the limitations of ``separate sphere'' gender roles. Such figures as the orphan are represented as the paradigm of the outcast, depicted in both women's and men's Victorian consciousness. None of these essays has been edited since its original publication, but a useful introduction places all of them within a contextual framework. The book includes illustrations, abundant notes, and a useful index. It constitutes an iconoclastic and thought-provoking view of Victorian literature for the general reader and the serious literary critic. Unhappy with either male-denying or female-worshipping viewpoints, Auerbach, as in her two previous studies of 19th-century literature, Communities of Women (CH, Apr '79) and Women and the Demon (CH, Feb '83), provides a fair-minded appraisal that is stimulating, focusing readers toward ``discontent with common experience.'' Recommended for upper-level undergraduate and graduate collections.-S.A. Parker, Hiram College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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