Posts in category "Vol. 10 No. 1"

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James Bieri, Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Biography: Youth's Unextinguished Fire, 1792-1816 & Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Biography: Exile of Unfulfilled Renown, 1816-1822

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James Bieri, Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Biography: Youth's Unextinguished Fire, 1792-1816. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004. 457pp. $69.50 (Hdbk; ISBN 0-87413-870-1).
James Bieri, Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Biography: Exile of Unfulfilled Renown, 1816-1822. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2005. 441pp. $69.50 (Hdbk; ISBN 0-87413-893-0).

Reviewed by
Stephen C. Behrendt
University of Nebraska

James Bieri's new two-volume biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley appeared in 2004-05 with relatively little fanfare, perhaps because it was published by a less prominent press than one might expect for so major a biography. A flurry of comments in October 2005, though, on the on-line discussion list of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism, has focused attention at last on this important new study. As well it should. For Bieri's biography, which will surely be the definitive study of Shelley's life and work for many years to come, advances and enriches the state of contemporary Shelley studies in remarkable ways.

Any new biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley has two principal twentieth-century forebears with which to contend, Newman Ivey White's magisterial 1949 Shelley and Richard Holmes' 1975 Shelley: The Pursuit. The first rescued Shelley from the inaccuracies and editorial suppressions of earlier chroniclers, including Shelley's own contemporaries who outlived him and who constructed in their own memoirs a variety of (often self-serving) myths about the poet and his life. Despite its excellence, though, Shelley is dated; much has changed in the intervening years with regard to both the ways in which we assess lives of the young Romantics and the state of the documentary evidence upon which revisionist biographical studies now proceed. Shelley scholarship has grown exponentially since White's two volumes appeared, with the discovery and publication of many additional Shelley circle documents (including newly discovered materials like those in the Scrope Davies trunk) as well as with the more sophisticated scholarly and bibliographical studies of the lives and works of the Shelley circle than those to which White had access more than half a century ago. Holmes' more recent Shelley: The Pursuit is properly regarded by many as less than reliable, as "skewed" or "partisan" in its ideological reading of Shelley's life and works and often careless in its scholarship.

Bieri's new biography reflects what is best about these two earlier studies—a firm grounding in the documentary evidence and a generally accessible prose style. But it goes beyond both in the sensitivity of its reading of the complexities of Shelley's life and of the ways in which Shelley's entire life-experience informs and elucidates his writings in prose and poetry alike. The author, who was trained and then taught in clinical psychology at Harvard, Columbia, CUNY, and finally the University of Texas, brings to his task as biographer both this professional, clinical background and his extensive and obviously passionate interest in his subject, the result of which is a biography whose differences from its predecessors are major and significant, both in methodology and in results. These two volumes represent the culmination of literally decades of research, both on the primary documents associated with Shelley and his circle and on the physical environments connected to them, both in Britain and on the Continent. Shelley emerges in this new reading as a man who was, almost from the start, impulsive, hot-blooded, occasionally insensitive, easily angered and slow to forget injuries—but also sentimental, compassionate, generous, and unstinting in his service to causes (and people) in which (or whom) he believed. He appears here as what he must have appeared to his contemporaries: very much a "mixed bag" whose foibles and failures, like his virtues and accomplishments, often seem larger than life.

Bieri's biography manages to meld the immediately personal circumstances of Shelley's life and lifestyle with the demanding requirements of rigorously detailed and documented scholarly biography without succumbing to the pitfalls involved in either. That is, it neither trivializes nor sensationalizes its subject, Shelley's life, but rather it presents it full and wholly, in remarkably straightforward and objective fashion, which process has the cumulative effect of dignifying that life, even as it leaves many of us shaking our heads—sometimes in dismay, sometimes in wonder—at that remarkable young Romantic. In both volumes, Bieri presents an astounding amount of documentary detail—something not unexpected from the discoverer of Timothy Shelley's illegitimate son (Percy Bysshe Shelley's elder half-brother)—that demonstrates that everything he says is firmly grounded in hard evidence gathered from a variety of sources, published and unpublished. Indeed, one is struck immediately by just how very much detail these volumes contain, and by the remarkable intellectual discipline with which it is marshaled. Even when we may disagree with Bieri's opinions and conclusions—for instance about who is ultimately the most responsible for the estrangement between Percy and Mary, or about the circumstances of their "family life" and the privations to which their children were subjected as a result—we cannot dispute the sheer effort that informs the biography, and the commitment to presenting the full record in detail rather than merely describing it.

The finished biography is a long one, spanning two large volumes, which unfortunately makes it also prohibitively expensive for most readers, scholarly or otherwise. But this length is justified by Bieri's careful detailing of the biographical and historical facts of the life of Shelley and his family. Indeed, the book was originally longer, owing primarily to the even more extensive readings of individual poems and prose works than the published version contains, readings that were pruned (or cut entirely) in the interests of economy. So there is less sense here of a critical biography than some may wish, and this has troubled some readers who would have preferred more extensive interpretive commentary. Bieri has recognized, though, that his task is first and foremost that of the biographer: "literary criticism" (i.e. extended close readings of individual works) never "takes over" from the obligations of biography. Even so, Bieri's readings of individual works, however brief, illuminate and reinforce his analysis of Shelley's life by tracing the presence of biographically significant materials in the literary works. The result is the sort of "whole" portrait that refuses to separate the literary artist from the temporal man. This seems particularly fitting, since it approximates the way that Shelley preferred to look at his own contemporaries and precursors.

The scholarship that informs these two volumes is daunting, and the facility with which Bieri handles the wealth of material upon which he draws is admirable. As one expects of an authoritative biographer, Bieri has seemingly consulted and digested all the standard published sources of Shelley's public and private writings as well as those of his associates. He has added to this his own extensive first-hand examination of all the relevant manuscript materials and has in the process brought to bear many items that have not previously been considered. This is the first biographical study, for instance, to present any of the few extant letters by Shelley's mother and to say anything really substantial about her own early life and the clearly significant role she played in the formation of her son's personality and life-habits.

Given the extensive professional experience the author brings to his task, Bieri's psychoanalytically-oriented study is never heavy-handed, and while there is perhaps some tendency to over-rationalize Shelley's behavior (especially toward women), Bieri is generally straightforward about how and why he has reached the conclusions he has. He is forthright, for example, about what he regards as possible sources and manifestations of Shelley's psychological eccentricities (e.g., his comments throughout on the sources and consequences of what he calls Shelley's "persecutory feelings" which occasionally "border on the delusional"). But he does not as a result portray in Shelley a man who is merely the sum of his phobias, manias, and psychoses but instead a complex person whose biographical and artistic complexities can be approached through interpretive vehicles like psycho-criticism.

Because of the complexities of Shelley's emotional and intellectual life—not to mention his physical, day-to-day one—at any give point one must necessarily be looking at and thinking about multiple chronological and intellectual perspectives. These overlaid perspectives are for the most part handled adroitly. The first volume takes Shelley's life through 1816, following the summer he and his extended family spent together with Byron's party in Switzerland. The early portion of this first volume offers the best and fullest account to date of Shelley's childhood and youth and the way his experiences in those years inform his later life and works. Bieri offers a superb examination of Shelley's time at Eton, for example, a period whose formative significance has never before been so fully or so insightfully detailed.

The second volume traces the balance of Shelley's life and artistic career, including the increasingly painful relations between Percy and Mary that resulted from his many infatuations and involvements with other women. If Bieri's account of these interpersonal matters seems occasionally to paint Shelley as more of a "victim" than he actually was, that may be the inevitable result of the biographer's close relationship with his subject (or patient), a trap into which many biographers have fallen and which, to his credit, Bieri implicitly appears to work hard to avoid. Of particular value in the second volume is Bieri's discussion of new evidence about Shelley's relationships with many of those who came into his life in its final half-decade, including the mysterious daughter the Shelleys adopted in Naples. Throughout both volumes Bieri also provides a historically and culturally perceptive discussion of Shelley's working knowledge of, and participation in, radical and oppositional politics, including socio-economic ideology. In other words, to repeat a point made earlier, Shelley is presented entire and in a compelling variety of personal, historical, and cultural contexts.

One caveat needs stating here, and it has to do entirely with the production values involved in this biography. Given their high price, it seems entirely reasonable to wish that the books themselves had been made more physically attractive, both as aesthetic objects and—more important—as books meant for reading. The University of Delaware Press selected, for instance, a disappointing typeface that produces an overly crowded page that really does try a reader's eyes—and patience. Moreover, one finds more than the usual number of uncorrected typographical errors, and while a fair number of these are probably inevitable in any book(s), the misspelling of "renown" in the second volume's subtitle, on both the title page and the dust jacket, seems particularly egregious.

The hallmark of any important work—in whatever genre—is that it stimulates discussion and in the process both creates and reinforces community. There is no doubt that Bieri's new biography will accomplish these dual purposes, both for Percy Bysshe Shelley and for the international community of scholars, readers, and thinkers for whom he and his readers remain vital and timely. For this, as for so much else in his biography, we owe James Bieri a considerable debt of appreciation and gratitude.

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Luke Gibbons, Edmund Burke and Ireland: Aesthetics, Politics, and the Colonial Sublime

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Luke Gibbons, Edmund Burke and Ireland: Aesthetics, Politics, and the Colonial Sublime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.  xiv +304 pp.  $60.00 (Hdbk;  ISBN: 0-521-81060-4).

Reviewed by
Frans De Bruyn
University of Ottawa

Until fairly recently, the Irish dimension of Edmund Burke's life experience and his views on colonialism and empire have been under-explored by scholars and critics.  Yet, as Luke Gibbons shows in Edmund Burke and Ireland:  Aesthetics, Politics, and the Colonial Sublime, both these circumstances are central to any adequate understanding of Burke himself and his extensive writings.  Moreover, as Gibbons further claims, Burke's opinions about the British imperial project were intimately shaped by his experience of the colonial system in Ireland.  Gibbons brings these interconnected themes together across a wide range of cultural and political contexts, including aesthetics, economic theory, philosophical history, and Irish unrest (the Whiteboys, agrarian struggle, the United Irishmen) to argue for a more integrated understanding of Burke's multifarious thought and experience.

Gibbons uses Burke's aesthetic theory, particularly his ideas about the sublime, which Burke developed during his youth in Ireland, as a unifying link between his formative experience and his later critique of colonialism.  Gibbons presses hard on the Irish context, insisting that the Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) witnesses to Burke's "intimacy with the 'colonial terror' of the Ireland of his upbringing" (7).  He argues that approaching Burke through his aesthetic thought opens up "unapproved roads that have received less inspection" (15) than the stereotypical "reactionary" Burke, perceived as the defender of hierarchy, privilege, social and economic inequality—in short, of "things as they are," to borrow William Godwin's phrase.[1]

Reading Burke through the sublime is not a new strategy, nor is it one without hazards.  One problem is the anachronistic use of the term "aesthetic" in connection with Burke's ideas about sublimity and beauty, especially if one thinks of the word as connoting a wholly disinterested, formal, distanced response to objects and experiences.  Burke's treatise on the sublime and the beautiful is, like most such theories in the eighteenth century, fundamentally a study of human psychology, and as such it has a much wider applicability to human experience than a narrowly defined study of purely aesthetic response.  Gibbons is alert to this fact, and one of the strengths of his book is his recognition that sympathetic engagement is one of the key features of the Burkean sublime.

This insight leads Gibbons to an illuminating distinction between Burke's conception of sympathy and that of Adam Smith, a difference Gibbons ascribes to the contrasting national narratives of eighteenth-century Scotland and Ireland.  "If the cordial influence of sympathy was pre-eminent among the responses of the Scottish Enlightenment to integration within the Union, Burke's theory of the sublime," Gibbons speculates, "with its emphasis on terror and the threat of self-annihilation, articulated a less optimistic Irish response to the embrace of empire" (87).  Whereas Smith imagines a decorum of sympathy in the distancing mechanism of the "impartial spectator," by which we learn to see ourselves as others see us, Burke defines sympathy as a passion that ineluctably draws us into the concerns of others, however painful they may be.  We are hindered "from shunning scenes of misery; and the pain we feel, prompts us to relieve ourselves in relieving those who suffer."[2]  The Burkean sublime thus permits an engagement and identification with the body in pain, in contrast with neo-stoical and neoclassical curtailments of the expression of pain in art and polite society.  These concerns of Burke place him in the company other eighteenth-century Irish writers, such as Swift, for whom "the trope of the injured body recurs as a national allegory of the plight of colonial Ireland in the eighteenth-century" (xii).  Gibbons argues that Burke's and Smith's views on sympathy both differ, in their strongly social, outwardly directed orientation, from the prevalent understanding of sensibility in the period, which was private, individualistic, inner-directed (89).

Several caveats might be entered against Gibbons's strong emphasis on the Burkean sublime throughout his analysis.  One problem is that the term "sublime" became such a fashionable critical catchword in the late eighteenth-century (as it has again in our time) that it lost precision and cogency.  Like ice cream, the sublime comes in a range of sometimes mutually incompatible flavors: colonial, gothic, heroic, natural, political, religious, revolutionary, rhetorical, and sympathetic, to name but a few.  For Burke the sublime was about awe and astonishment, as well as about terror and fear, and the experience of the sublime was understood by him to be a salutary one.  Fear and awe, as he makes clear in Reflections on the Revolution in France, are responses that shape positively our relationship to customs, traditions, and political institutions:  "We fear God; we look up with awe to kings, with affection to parliaments, with duty to magistrates, with reverence to priests, and with respect to nobility.  Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so affected."[3]  Furthermore, some of Burke's most prominent evocations of sublime sympathy—his accounts of the plight of Marie Antoinette and of Indian princesses under British rule (the Begams of Oudh) come to mind—are pleas on behalf of highly privileged unfortunates.  These recognitions do not vitiate Gibbons's argument, but they do complicate matters significantly.

A related point is one that might be made in connection with just about any critical discussion of Burke that attempts in some way to synthesize his thought or his career.  His writings are heavily beholden to circumstance, frequently captive, for instance, to the demands of party and political office.  His texts were often written in collaboration, and he was frequently called upon to employ pragmatic modes of expression—memoranda, motions, resolutions, committee reports, and articles of charge—indelibly marked by the specific situations that generated them.  As a result, difficult questions of form, occasion, and textual authority can form traps for the unwary reader attempting make sense of a wide variety of texts..  Gibbons is often sensitive to these problems.  In a discussion of an economic tract Burke wrote late in his life, Thoughts and Details on Scarcity (1795), Gibbons argues against Victorian readings of this text by Trevelyan and others, who found in it an intellectual justification for economic policies that proved ruinous to Ireland during the great famine of the 1840s.  The generalized principles that the Victorians extrapolated from Burke's text are utterly unwarranted, as Gibbons demonstrates by means of a reading that is carefully contextualized, both historically and politically.  As is so often the case with Burke, arguments made in one context and in response to a particular set of circumstances cannot be applied to other situations or systematized without careful qualification.

A final consideration is the central place of Burke's Irish identity in Gibbons's argument.  Its importance, as Burke's biographer F. P. Lock points out, cannot be gainsaid:  "Burke's character and ideas cannot be understood without reference to his Irishness and the complex conflicts of loyalty which he inherited."[4]  On this point there is broad consensus.  But the devil, as always, is in the details, and the historical record is often tantalizingly opaque about those aspects of Burke's life that contribute importantly to what we would today call his sense of identity, including his Irishness and his religious connections.  Historians may therefore demur when Gibbons resorts to conjecture in order to bridge gaps in his argument.  An example is his statement that Burke's father "would appear to have acted" (24) as legal counsel at the trial of James Cotter, an Irish Jacobite sympathizer who was tried and executed in 1720.  Lock is more circumspect on this score and points out that there is no evidence that the Richard Burke who worked for Cotter was Edmund's father.  Similarly, in discussing Burke's response to Irish privation, Gibbons conjectures that "Burke may have been talking from first-hand experience of famine" gained during childhood periods spent with relatives in Cork (131).  These moments of speculation are in fact unnecessary, since Burke's writings and correspondence attest amply to the passions and concerns that Gibbons makes central to his argument.

The broad cultural studies perspective of Edmund Burke and Ireland may not always satisfy those looking for documentary confirmation in the biographical record or for detailed historical investigation of economic, social, and political conditions in eighteenth-century Ireland.  Nevertheless, this is an important critical reassessment—intelligent, original, and thought-provoking—that contributes significantly to our understanding of Burke and to the broader context of Irish studies in which Gibbons places his subject.

Notes
[1] "Things as they are" is, of course, the primary title of Godwin's novel Things as They Are;  or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams (London, 1794).
[2] Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, in The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 222.
[3] Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, in The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. 8, ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp.137-8.

[4] F. P. Lock, Edmund Burke, Volume I:  1730-1784 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 28.

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Jillian Heydt-Stevenson, Austen's Unbecoming Conjunctions—Subversive Language, Embodied History

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Jillian Heydt-Stevenson, Austen’s Unbecoming Conjunctions: Subversive Language, Embodied History. New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. x + 275pp. 11 Illustrations. $65.00. (ISBN 1-4039-6410-6).

Reviewed by
Anne K. Mellor
University of California, Los Angeles

This is a book that will forever change the way we read Jane Austen's fiction. In a series of compelling and well-documented analyses, Jillian Heydt-Stevenson shows us that Austen's work is replete with sexual jokes, bawdy humor, double-entendres, erotic puns. Moreover, she persuasively argues that for Jane Austen, the mind cannot be separated from the body: sense and sensibility, consciousness and physical sensations, thought and feeling, are inextricably fused. Heydt-Stevenson here puts paid once and for all to the misconceived notion that Austen was too "respectable" to explore the functioning of the human body in all its unruly sexuality. She further links Austen's use of bawdy language to her overriding concerns with the economics of marriage, the commodification of the female body, the advent of a consumer culture, and the role of language in mediating between "nature" and "fashion."

Readers of Pride and Prejudice will not be surprised to learn that Lydia is motivated primarily by sexual desire. But not everyone will be aware that Jane Austen explicitly signaled to her readers that Lydia had been deflowered by Wickham before she eloped with him. As Lydia puts it in her goodbye letter to Mrs. Foster, "I wish you would tell Sally to mend a great slit in my worked muslin gown." Austen is equally bawdy when Caroline Bingley is trying to seduce Darcy. Using a "powerful metonymy of phallic power and feminine submission," Caroline offers to be serviceable to Darcy: "I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well." In response, Darcy "wittily invokes autoeroticism"—"Thank you—but I always mend my own."

Equally illuminating is Heydt-Stevenson's deft analysis of the role played by the salacious riddle, "Kitty, a fair but frozen maid," in Emma (an earlier version of this interpretation appeared in Nineteenth Century Literature). Unpacking and solving this riddle, which depends on the folk belief that syphilis could be cured by intercourse with a virgin, she shows that the novel, like the riddle, is fundamentally engaged with questions of male impotence, venereal disease, and the commodification of women. In Emma, a woman too easily becomes the sexual possession of a man—the penniless Jane Fairfax is likened to a slave, and even Emma is finally but a "notch" in the larger estate of Donwell Abbey.

I do not have space here to rehearse the myriad dirty jokes, sexual innuendoes, and bawdy stories that Heydt-Stevenson so brilliantly unearths in Austen's novels, from the "under hung" William Walter Elliot to the "well hung" but homoerotically inclined Charles Thorpe to the "best hung" Captain Frederick Wentworth. One section deserves special mention, however. As Heydt-Stevenson persuasively argues, the linguistic landscape of Sense and Sensibility makes it "sound" like Marianne had sex with Willoughby, thus giving her no choice but to marry the only respectable man who would still have her. And Colonel Brandon, having learned at first hand how easily innocent, impetuous, warm-hearted women (the two Elizas) can be seduced and abandoned, is probably well aware that his wife is not a virgin. Indeed Marianne's very vulnerability may be part of her attraction for him.

Austen's Unbecoming Conjunctions does much more than unpack Austen's bawdy humor, although that is a revelation in itself. This book also explores Austen's profound awareness of the ways in which the human body is always already mediated by semiotic codes, and in particular the language of fashion. Here Heydt-Stevenson draws powerful attention both to the role of commodified and erotically charged objects (lockets, hair, "slit" muslin) and of gendered cross-dressing in Austen's fiction. Her account of Henry Tilney's appropriation both of patriarchal privilege and of the "feminine" discourse of dressmaking uncovers a particularly subtle version of the male fashioning of the female body in Austen's day. Such appropriations are significantly accompanied in Austen's fiction by forms of violence, as Heydt-Stevenson acutely argues, violence ranging from aggressive harassment to rape, kidnapping and brutal mob-control. The presence of numerous "fallen women" in Austen's fiction thus signals not so much her moral disapprobation as her sensitive awareness of the vulnerability of the female body to male economic and psychological control.

For those who resolutely contend that Jane Austen was far too "proper" to think such sexually charged thoughts and her publishers far too "respectable" to publish them, Heydt-Stevenson offers documentary rebuttal. Her discussions of the widely circulated, entirely respectable marriage manual, Aristotle's Master-piece, with its extensive advice on various sexual practices and positions, and of the numerous dirty jokes, salacious riddles, sexual puns and erotic stories published in the bourgeois Ladies Monthly Magazine prove that the women of Austen's class and circle were entirely aware of the natural functions of the human (and animal) body, and quite accustomed to discussing them among themselves.

This is that rare academic book—beautifully written, cogently argued—that enables one to see a familiar literary landscape in a new and richer way. Anyone interested in Jane Austen's fiction must read Austen's Unbecoming Conjunctions.

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William Hone, Regency Radical: Selected Writings of William Hone, eds. David A. Kent and D. R. Ewen

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William Hone, Regency Radical: Selected Writings of William Hone. Eds. David A. Kent and D. R. Ewen. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2003. 460pp.  $51.95. (Hdbk. ISBN: 0-8143-3060-6).

Reviewed by
Kyle Grimes
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Romanticists have an unusual penchant for "circles" and "schools."  We have a Lake School, a Satanic School, and a Cockney School (which includes the Hunt circle); we have Joseph Johnson's circle, the Wordsworth Circle, Shelley and his Circle; and we have, of course, the plural and seemingly all-encompassing Romantic Circles.  It is as if romanticists wish to account for the literary culture of the early nineteenth century in the graphic terms of a Venn diagram. And yet, for all these overlapping schools and circles, some figures always seem to lie just beyond the circumference, unlisted on the roster of any particular school and thus relegated (literally) to the margins of literary history where they appear only occasionally in the odd footnote.  Until quite recently, William Hone has been just such a figure.  Though he was well known to many of the central writers and publishers of the Regency period, and in spite of his general fame (or notoriety) in the public prints, and though he was the long-time friend of Charles Lamb, the publisher of Hazlitt's Political Essays, and perhaps the best-selling writer in England during the post-Peterloo and Queen Caroline affair periods, Hone has not been widely known or widely read among more recent romantics scholars.  Happily, over the last dozen years or so this state of affairs has begun to change.  With the publication of such works as Marcus Wood's Radical Satire and Print Culture, Joss Marsh's Word Crimes, a handful of essays and electronic editions (such as The Political House That Jack Built, here on Romantic Circles and on my BioText website), and most recently in Ben Wilson's Laughter of Triumph, Hone's work as a publisher and journalist, parodist and antiquarian is coming into increasing prominence.

The volume under consideration here offers a timely contribution to this swell of interest in Hone.  The first substantial compilation of Hone's work since Edgell Rickword's Radical Squibs and Loyal Ripostes (1971), and the first collection ever to offer anything approaching a comprehensive view of Hone's "life and works," Regency Radical: Selected Writings of William Hone is a most useful volume.  The book presents a biographical introduction to Hone supplemented by a short chronology; a very brief selection of articles from The Reformists' Register, a short-lived weekly that Hone published—initially with the help of Francis Place—in 1817; extended selections from Hone's famous libel trials of 1817; four of the half dozen or so illustrated satires produced with George Cruikshank in 1819-21; and a short selection of material drawn from Hone's very popular late-career antiquarian works, The Every-Day Book (1825-27), The Table Book (1827), and The Year Book (1832).  These excerpts from the published works are followed by a short sampling from Hone's voluminous correspondence, much of which is very illuminating and entertaining reading but most of which has never been published.  The works collected here thus span the period when Hone was at his most prominent and influential as a public figure, and they suggest something of the range and the development of Hone's writing and publishing efforts.  All of these selections are effectively, but unobtrusively annotated.

And herein lies the chief value of Kent and Ewen's volume. Heretofore, editions of Hone's work have been scattered and often very partial.  While editions of some pieces—Hone's Three Trials, for instance, or The Political House that Jack Built—have always been relatively easy to locate and read, scholarly discussion of such works has typically appeared in rather limited contexts.  Many readers of Romantic Circles, for instance, will be familiar with Hone as a parodist and satirist, but will know little about his journalism or his antiquarianism.  Likewise, historians of British jurisprudence may well know Hone from his 1817 libel trials, but be blind to the broader context of Hone's distinctive "antiquarian radicalism" and to his literary pretensions.  And few romanticists or legal historians are very keenly aware of the important  role Hone's Apocryphal New Testament (1820) plays in the history of Bible publishing and discussions of the biblical canon. The inevitable result, of course, is that it has been difficult to see Hone in any comprehensive way.  Regency Radical strives to draw together the fragments of Hone's reputation into a single volume where students and scholars of the Romantic period can finally begin to grasp the breadth of the man's efforts.  In effect, the book serves to "humanize" Hone, seeing his work not as a rich source of marginal materials and backgrounds for studies focused elsewhere but rather as a coherent body of work in its own right, the product of the man whose portrait stares evocatively from the front cover and whose sometimes very personal (and personable) letters make up the book's final section.  Regency Radical presents a new Hone, then, and the book will likely find its greatest value in this suggestion of a comprehensive view of the works and, of course, as a kind of ready reference to the numerous topical allusions that are so frequent in the sort of politically engaged writing that is typical of Hone's ouvre.  This is very useful scholarship indeed.

Unfortunately, this comprehensive inclination is also, inevitably, the source of the book's limitations.  While the volume does offer a broader and more accessible view of Hone than anything else currently in print, there are some surprising gaps in the coverage.  For instance, nothing from the series of antiquarian and polemical works that followed Hone's controversial publication of the Apocryphal New Testament is represented here—readers are likely to come away from the volume with no awareness of this still largely unexplored aspect of Hone's career.  Other editorial selections are similarly lacking.  There are no works previous to 1817, though the introduction to an 1816 pamphlet (the lengthy title of which begins Hone's Interesting History of the Memorable Blood Conspiracy . . . .) offers perhaps Hone's clearest and most unequivocal justification for his radical publishing activities.  Likewise, there are no selections from the Cruikshank-illustrated satire A Slap at Slop and His Bridge-Street Gang (1821), though I am not alone in thinking it is the best of the satires and would presumably fit perfectly the selection criteria of a volume called Regency Radical.

Of course it is easy to complain about works that are missing from the volume—any "selected works" compilation is going to omit some important pieces, often for reasons that are fully justifiable.  In the case of A Slap at Slop, for instance, the editors may have omitted the piece because the original was printed in a full sheet newspaper format that does not transfer well to smaller codex formats (though Hone himself also printed a rather disappointing octavo version).  The problem here involves a kind of uncertainty about what the book is intended to be and to do.  If the editors wished—as their title suggests—to focus on those works that made Hone famous during the radical years of the late Regency, then one wonders why the antiquarian prose from the 20s and 30s (as well as a range of letters extending well beyond the limits of Hone's "radical years") is included at all.  The later prose, after all, seems to crowd out some other important, even defining works from Hone as a "Regency radical."  Alternatively, if the editors intended to provide a more comprehensive overview—as is suggested by the texts chosen for inclusion and as announced in the dustjacket blurb—then one wonders why excerpts from the Apocryphal New Testament and Ancient Mysteries Described or even Hone's spurious continuation of Byron in Don Juan, Canto the Third! or his heavily edited republication of Defoe's Jure Divino might not have made the cut.  As it stands, the selection criteria are never clearly spelled out, and the headnotes to each major section (in the absence of a Preface and of headnotes to individual selections) offer only the most minimal guidance.

These quibbles aside, Regency Radical is a welcome and valuable book.  It provides a convenient and well-edited reading text for some of Hone's more familiar works, most notably the Three Trials and the (fully illustrated) Hone-Cruikshank collaborations from the post-Peterloo years.  These works are supplied with annotations and glosses which, if not always as thorough as one might want, nonetheless offer some original insights as well as sensible distillations of such important commentaries as those of Dorothy George, Ann Bowden, Robert Patton, Marcus Wood, Kevin Gilmartin and others.  Hone's political writing from the late-Regency period is highly topical and historically grounded, packed with allusions to contemporary persons, issues, and events.  It is a great help to have a reasonably accurate and comprehensive key to such allusions collected together in a single volume.  For students and scholars alike, Regency Radical offers both a sound introduction and a handy reference to Hone's most characteristic writing.

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Jerome McGann, Byron and Romanticism & Drummond Bone, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Byron

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Jerome McGann, Byron and Romanticism. Ed. James Soderholm. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. 328 pp.  $85.00. (Hdbk: ISBN 978-0521809580).
Drummond Bone, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Byron. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. 360 pp. $24.99 (pbk). (Pbk: ISBN 978-0521786768).

Reviewed by
Gillen D'Arcy Wood
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Byron plays Mephistopheles to Wordsworth's (and synecdochally, Romanticism's) Faust. Even at moments where he appears a poetic failure—in Childe Harold III or "Fare Thee Well"—he remains magister ludi, hoisting the reader on his own falsifiable expectations. But Byron at the last is also Faust himself. . . .

Such is Jerome McGann's Byron, whose articles on the poet, independent of his two early books, have now been collected in a single, indispensable volume. The first two-thirds of the collection, nine essays in all, constitute a Byron book unto themselves, but have been supplemented by seven further pieces, including a retrospective interview published here for the first time, that showcase McGann's crucial theoretical interventions—on the subjects of ideology, historical method, and deconstruction—and treat Byron mostly obliquely. Taken together, the volume offers both an assembly of vital essays by the most important Byronist of his generation, while pointing toward the Greater McGann of Social Values and Poetic Acts (1988) and the epoch-making Romantic Ideology (1983).

McGann's new introduction to the collection contains the worthwhile reminder that in writing a dissertation on Byron in the 1960s, then agreeing to undertake an edition of the poetical works while still a young scholar, he was committing (so it seemed) an elaborate form of professional suicide. New Criticism, and later Deconstruction, found no place for Byron, for whom verbal iconicity was subordinate to self-fashioning in verse. That I, a would-be Byronist, am now writing this review some thirty years later, alongside a newly published volume in the revitalized field of Byron studies, is a tribute to the McGann Effect. But, of course, Byron is only one measure of the man. McGann has been at the leading edge of much that is now normative in the scholarly undertakings of Romanticism: the centrality of textual editing and "history of the book," the constructedness of Romanticism as ideology, the turn to history, and most recently his dazzling meditation on the new digital textualities, which has, among other things, brought him full circle to his formative experience editing Byron. The remarkable scholarly outpouring shows no signs of ending for McGann (thank heaven), but it certainly all begins with George Gordon.

And so much of the new Byron studies begins with McGann's "Byron and the Anonymous Lyric," first published in 1992. That seminal essay viewed Byron through the lens of Baudelaire, as the arch-deconstructor of Romantic sincerity. For example, Byron's much-traduced valediction to his wife, "Fare Thee Well!" is, for McGann, a lyric poison calling card, an essentially theatrical performance of a broken heart, but one whose manipulativeness is essential to its layered structures of feeling. One of those rhetorical layers is sincerity, but sincerity deconstructed, a mirror held up to its hypocrite lecteurs. In Bryon, the "truth is masquerade" or, as McGann puts it in a related essay from 1990, "hypocrisy and the true voice of feeling cannot be separated" (115).

The majority of the essays in Byron and Romanticism are taken from the early 1990s and borrow from this single insight: that truth and falsity, and good and bad style, are barren claims for a reading of Byron, just as Wordsworthian sincerity, on which the history of disciplinary Romanticism rests, is deconstructed by Byronic theatricality: "Byron puts on a mask and is able to tell the truth about himself—a truth that comes across only because the text at the literal level is an imaginary execution of the denial of that truth" ("Hero With a Thousand Faces," 146) Reading Byron in this fashion is an abyssal experience. McGann has no truck with Freud; instead this is the textualisation of personality on the deconstructive model, where Byron is the Everyman of dis-integrated selfhood, a self orbiting always within the horizon of proper sentiment. That is, the possibility of truth in the performance of poetic confession can never be wholly discounted. Cynicism, after all, is as fakeable as sincerity. That we can't be sure of the mode is the beauty of reading Lord Byron.

McGann's "masquerade" reading of Byron places important limits on his influential critique of deconstruction in "A Point of Reference" from 1985. In the De Manian heyday, when Derrida was read (unhelpfully) as a radical skeptic something like Berkeley, McGann could justifiably compose a defense of referentiality and the historical method, while still perform essentially deconstructive turns of his own in his readings of Byron. With high theory in its permanent twilight, his Byron is of more enduring significance. McGann is the essential, unassimilable middle-term between his first teacher, De Man, and his student Marjorie Levinson, between the Romanticism-as-rhetoric of the 70s and 80s and the Romanticism-as-style of today, because he saw (as none of the Yale School did) that Byron had arrived at the party first, dressed to rhyme: "The grotesque features of Childe Harold's sublimities are essential to the work, and ultimately function to satirize and deconstruct the reader's correspondently sublimed poetic expectations" (147).

McGann's Byron "wakes up" (from) Romanticism in 1812, and discovers, in the energetic postures of madness and badness (and sincerity and goodness), a dry node within a saturated poetical discourse. McGann's insight is literary/rhetorical, but impossible without deep historical understanding. Responsible for so much that is new in Romantic studies, and steeped in textual scholarship and the historical method, McGann is, as he concedes, "old-fashioned." In the concluding interview with his editor, James Soderholm, he keeps cultural studies at arms length and regrets the "costs," to poetry, of theory. False consciousness is a fact of historicity, even and especially our own. Meanwhile, the most sincere form of literary scholarship remains the study of the history of texts and their transmission.

A number of the contributions to the new Cambridge Companion to Byron trace a direct lineage to the revisionary priorities laid out by Jerome McGann. McGann helped to restore the scholarly credibility of biography, and the collection opens with a helpful Paul Douglass essay on Byron's motley crew of nineteenth century biographers. The piece following it, by Peter Graham, is a terrific study of Byron's sometimes mercenary, often difficult, but ultimately hugely productive relationship with his publisher John Murray. As McGann first saw, Byron is an exemplary case of how literary texts cannot be properly understood outside the contexts—material, economic, commercial—of their production. McGann himself appears later in the collection, with a summation of his now definitive views on the self-fashioning Byronic lyric (a portion of which is borrowed directly from "Byron and the Anonymous Lyric").

In other respects, however, the new Companion represents a post-McGann moment with its strong interest in Byron's orientalism, celebrity, party political affiliations, and sexuality—what might tentatively be described as themes belonging to cultural studies. The most prominent critics in Byron studies, and the larger Romanticist ambit, are assembled. Some chapters, such as Malcom Kelsall's contribution on Byron's politics, Nigel Leask on philhellenism, Alan Richardson on the theatre, Andrew Elfenbein on sexuality, and Andrew Nicholson on the prose, offer creative revisitings of well-known previous work on Byron, while there are new offerings from Susan Wolfson on Byron's versified loathing of Southey ("The Vision of Judgment"). Of particular interest is Philip Martin's persuasive challenge to our now conventional fascination with Byronic psychology and personae: he reads Childe Harold as a more political "appeal to a new audience sympathetic to its coherent and anti-teleological explorations of history, politics and contemporary affairs" (77).

With this varied and always interesting menu, it is certainly not the fault of the individual contributors to the volume, all of whom offer up excellent work, that its overall representation of Byron is so deficient in one key respect: I mean the scandalous marginality of Don Juan. In a volume containing sixteen essays, not one takes Byron's greatest poem as its principal subject, let alone its exclusive concern. Though Don Juan is mentioned passim, of the three hundred pages in the Companion, barely ten (by my count) mark a direct engagement with the poem. We are accustomed to thinking of historicism and cultural studies (I include my own work in this description) as a necessary broadening or levelling of critical focus. If the Companion is any guide, however, the new Bryon studies is biased heavily toward pre-1816, with Childe Harold's Pilgrimmage and the Oriental Tales at the heart of the canon. Of the five essays devoted to close readings, four treat Harold and/or the Tales, and only one essay title, the editor's contribution, even mentions Don Juan. The Byron of the Companion is largely the Byron of 1809-11, on his Eastern caravanserai, and the subsequent Years of Fame. It's as if Don Juan went down with the ship in Canto II! Would the Prelude suffer the same fate in a Wordsworth Companion, or a Milton Companion stop at Lycidas?

What I think of this is less important than what a bright undergraduate or a beginning graduate student (presumably key target audiences of the volume) will learn from the implicit priorities of this Companion, in which Don Juan (and his narrator) is just one Byronic persona among many, and not the protagonist of what is, with The Canterbury Tales and Don Quixote, the greatest comic masterpiece in European literature (not that anyone reading this review requires reminding of this). Might the fact that Don Juan is not read as widely as Chaucer and Cervantes, even among a captive undergraduate audience, be our fault, and the fault of such volumes as the new Cambridge Companion?  Though a singular contribution to the ongoing Byron revival, this collection participates, however unwittingly on the part of its individual contributors, in our continuing, collective, self-destructive neglect of Don Juan. At a time of poetry's decline in the classroom and in the pages of our literary journals, if we cannot publicize that poem's greatness with the critical vocabularies we possess, the historical burden is ours, not Byron's. George Gordon is back in the limelight where he belongs, but we would be right to be concerned, with McGann, at some not-so-hidden "costs" of the new production.

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Steven E. Jones, ed., The Satiric Eye: Forms of Satire in the Romantic Period

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Steven E. Jones, ed., The Satiric Eye: Forms of Satire in the Romantic Period. New York: Palgrave, 2003. 231pp. $69.95. (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-312-29496-4).

Reviewed by
Talissa J. Ford
University of California, Berkeley

"The man who permits you to injure him deserves your vengeance. He will also receive it. Go, Spectre! Obey my most secret desire," writes William Blake, the romantic satirist conspicuously absent from Steven E. Jones' collection The Satiric Eye: Forms of Satire in the Romantic Period. What this book does particularly well is to consider the relationship between satire and the culture in which it intervenes—what happens, in other words, when that spectre is let loose in the world. From the American satirist-barber J. R. D. Huggins and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" poet Jane Taylor, to first—and second—generation standards Wordsworth and Byron, The Satiric Eye explores not just the fact but the circulation of satire in the public, consumer culture of Romantic-era England (and America).

As a collection, this is impressively—even bizarrely—coherent, especially given the stunning diversity of its subjects. Chapters have a too-regular-to-be-accidental habit of ending where the next pick up, whether that means closing with Wordsworth (less surprising) or Jane Taylor (a bit more surprising). The effect is to create the impression, not of isolated instances of satiric outbursts, but of a community— at more and less visible levels of society—whose satiric work in one realm enabled similar interventions in other places or times. As serious consideration of Romantic satire is fairly recent, probably beginning in earnest with Marcus Wood's 1994 Radical Satire and Print Culture, this collection is valuable, not only for its individually strong readings, but for its implicit argument that satire was a prevalent, and in some ways cohesive, "Romantic" (or un-Romantic) form.

Tim Fulford's essay "'Getting and Spending': The Orientalizaton of Satire in Romantic London" is a fitting start to a section on taste-making in the public sphere. Unlike the satires of Wordsworth and Cowper, who used their retirement from the public as a moral high ground from which to critique, the satires that interest Fulford are a product of the very consumer culture they satirize. This was a "biting but ephemeral genre, written to sell cheap and fast, a product for and of a public who were as used to 'getting and spending' on a minor scale as George IV was on a major one" (22). Examining the Oriental imagery of James Gillray, William Hone, and others in pamphlets, handbills, and magazines, Fulford argues the importance of self-referentiality in satire; these writers and artists implicate themselves in the excesses they satirize. If there is a weakness in this brand of satire—if Hone and Gillray lose credibility for making use of the consumption they mock—Byron, argues Fulford, shows that there is no other way. Oriental and commercial culture demanded that any effective satire must be written from within, that "commentators would have to accept—and turn to their advantage—the implication of their publications in the culture they criticized" (27). This turning to advantage made Byron the greatest satirist of the era, putting, so to speak, his mouth where his money was. Fulford gives Byron the last word here: the Romantic satirist, he claims, would have to have "lived in the world . . . and tooled in a post-chaise . . . In a gondola . . . Against a wall . . . The cant is so much stronger than the cunt nowadays; that the benefit of experience in a man who had well-weighed the worth of both monosyllables must be lost" (27).

Enter Michael Gamer and the Della Cruscans. In one sense, "'Bell's Poetics': The Baviad, the Della Cruscans, and the Book of The World" documents the opposite phenomenon; where Fulford's satirists succeed by making their work as impermanent and consumable as urban London demands, the Della Cruscans, Gamer demonstrates, become a perceptible threat when they turn what was meant to be disposable—verse that was "deliberately consumable and temporary," "spontaneous, sincere, unplanned, and unlabored" (36)—into potentially canonical poetry by publishing the poems in a book. If the "adolescent nastiness" (37) of Gifford's Baviad rings excessive on modern ears, that is because, Gamer smartly shows, Gifford's critique isn't motivated by the Della Cruscans' poetry at all. Published nearly two years after The World poems Gifford attacks, and focusing on Bell—the publisher of The World and its subsequent book form, but otherwise a minor figure in the poetic movement—The Baviad's paranoia is inspired not so much by the supposedly inconsequential poetry itself, but by the printing and publishing empire that backs it. For Gifford, then, "Bell's attempts to repackage Della Cruscan verse into high cultural artifacts amounted to multiple usurpations of literary authority: of the poetic 'work' by improvised, self-consuming verse, of book by newspaper, and of critic by bookseller" (48). Gifford's objection is less artistic than political, a defense of the hierarchies of print and culture.

The final two essays in this section make an unlikely pair. Nicola Trott's "Wordsworth and the Parodic School of Criticism" takes as its subject satirical attacks launched on Wordsworth—in particular, Hunt's claims that parodies of Wordsworth might be mistaken for the originals, and Jeffrey's claims that poems written by Wordsworth himself are so overly Wordsworthian that they might be mistaken for parodies. But the joke, Trott argues, is on his critics; the "sense of the ridiculous" required to satirize Wordsworth is imbedded by Wordsworth, knowingly, in the poems themselves (92). "And that," concludes Trott, "is Wordsworth's way of having his joke and eating it too" (93). Marcus Wood, then, makes Wordsworth eat it. "Black Bodies and Satiric Limits in the Long Eighteenth Century" takes up a kind of parody that is essentially satiric; the danger of treating black bodies in satire is the danger of affording them too much serious attention. The solution: to write parodies of black beauty and black strength, poems whose subjects were never meant to be taken seriously. Wood ends with an especially disturbing poem from Wordsworth—penned, the story goes, "amid bursts of hilarity" in the drawing room—depicting white abolitionist males and black slave females "involved in a relationship of mutual desire that is somehow hopelessly funny to the white audience" (64, 66, 68). Wordsworth comes away from this looking awfully bad—seeming, as Wood suggests, "to enforce the lowest, most banal assumptions of popular racism" (68). The question on which Wood concludes lingers even after Trott's attempts to answer it: "was [Wordsworth] really in control of what he was doing?" (68).

The second group of essays, on women and children "at what might be called the satiric scene of instruction"(8), includes particularly illuminating and complementary essays by Donelle R. Ruwe and Stuart Curran. The section begins with Karl Kroeber's "Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey: Self-reflexive Satire and Biopoetics." Though its claim that Northanger Abbey can "make us more fully human" (106) by altering "what appear to be immutable genetic determinants of our behavior"(100) finally isn't as interesting as it sounds, his suggestion that Austen "defends the novel form as an exemplary means for freeing us from crippling assumptions that novels may themselves foster" (104) offers a useful stage for Ruwe's and Curran's essays, both of which are interested in the extent to which satire can (or, perhaps, should) critique itself from within.

Ruwe's "Satirical Birds and Natural Bugs: J. Harris' Chapbooks and the Aesthetic of Children's Literature" examines three works from a series of illustrated children's chapbooks printed by London publisher John Harris between 1807 and 1809. The connection between children's literature and satire should not, argues Ruwe, surprise; "the double nature of satire, in which signals are to be interpreted by one reader as a criticism of another, can be effectively cross-written for the adult and child audience" (125). What is surprising—or, rather, what Ruwe shows to be unsettlingly unsurprising—is the relative canonicity of Roscoe's The Butterfly's Ball over its far more popular parody, Catherine Ann Dorset's The Peacock "At Home": A Sequel to the Butterfly's Ball. Roscoe's poem wins out over Dorset's because it is more "Romantic" in its aesthetic sensibility; the fantastical nature to which Roscoe's small hero escapes preserves the image of the child's natural innocence and the power of imagination. In contrast, The Peacock at Home fails to represent childhood as an "enclosed, special time"—offering instead a satire that is topical, local, and contextualized, society only thinly disguised as "nature." Ruwe concludes with a discussion of Jane Taylor and the overwhelming popularity of "The Star" ("Twinkle Twinkle Little Star") over the comic-satiric Signor Topsy Turvey's Wonderful Magic Lantern. As with Roscoe's chapbooks, an "implicitly gendered, anti-satiric, Romantic ideology of the child" is what gets a poem canonized.

Curran's own treatment of Jane Taylor picks up, in a sense, where Ruwe's leaves off. "Jane Taylor's Satire on Satire" argues that Taylor's satirization of satire itself undermines "the premise on which satire . . . constructed its edifice" (139)—that, though she can knife-wield with the best of them, in an "exceedingly delicate balancing act," Taylor positions her satires such that they represent (in the sense of speaking for) social ills (148). Taylor's self-stylization as one who has the skill, but not the malevolence, to resort to satire, participates in the double-voicedness to which Ruwe argues satire always tends.

The final cluster of essays, about topical and political satire in the Regency period, begins with essays by Gary Dyer and Kyle Grimes, both of whom are interested in ways that satire can play with its sense of itself as a genre. Dyer's "Intercepted Letters, Men of Information: Moore's Two Penny Post-Bag and Fudge Family in Paris" examines the trope of the "intercepted letter," not just as a convenient trick for satirists, but as a means of critiquing governmental practices of information-gathering. Moore's critique evokes not just the government interception of mail, but also government surveillance of print satire—calling attention, Dyer suggests, to the dangers, and limits, of Moore's own satirical practice. Moore's turning of the (supposed) letters into poetry, furthermore, works as a kind of double-voicing, "composed of an original, earnest text, and a second text that appropriates and comments on it" (164).

The "hacker satire" which Kyle Grimes discusses in "Verbal Jujitsu: William Hone and the Tactics of Satirical Conflict" is "parasitic, derivative, opportunistic, parodic" (174). If Moore can be said to use a kind of double-voicing, William Hone's parodies might be said to produce a double-reading, as the public re-reads the parodic imitation back onto the original. The "hacker satire" exploits weaknesses in the system, relying on "both the tactical ingenuity of the satirist/publisher and the technologies of print and distribution" to respond "quickly and massively to momentary and fleeting opportunities in the public sphere" (173-4). The particular works Grimes examines are rather explicit seizings of cultural authority intended to "expose, disarm, and ridicule their pretension to authority" (182).

John Strachan's essay "'Trimming the Muse of Satire': J. R. D. Huggins and the Poetry of Hair-Cutting" shows the most unlikely of publications—a barber's collection of advertisements—to engage in a similarly dialogical negotiation. Grimes suggests that satire can be " not so much a distinct, quasi-literary genre as a dialogizing counter-movement to the implicit truth-claims of all monological discourses, be they literary, political, philosophical, or theological"(178). Strachan shows that Huggins' Hugginiana as well—in which the satire is as important as the advertising— necessarily critiques and undermines cultural and political claims to authority with its own parodic claims to authority (in, for example, Huggins' references to himself as the "emperor of barbers"—just as Napoleon is issuing his own imperial proclamations).

The final essay in the collection is Marilyn Gaull's "Pantomime as Satire: Mocking a Broken Charm", which examines the Covent Garden pantomime between 1806 and 1830. Spoken drama had been censored since 1737; whether reacting against or struggling within the licencing acts, all theater was "not only a satire of the authorities that enforced the laws but also a satire of the dramatic tradition from which most theaters, actors, and dramatists had been excluded" (209). The pantomime which concluded evenings of melodrama only heightened the satiric impact of spoken theater; "even King Lear," quips Gaull, "looks quite different when . . . [it] concludes with the eighty-fourth performance of Mother Goose, in which the supernatural agent is played by the aging cross-dressing Samuel Simmons, who might be Lear himself in some warped afterlife" (212). As religion and politics were forced off the stage, thought too sacred for representation, the paganism and ritualism of pantomime not only satirized the culture of authority but, argues Gaull, introduced into the culture the "concept of transformation," to "secularize and democratize the once sacred and elite theatrical arts" (222). That the book ends with Gaull's invocation of Coleridge's "Conclusion to Part II" of Christabel ("To mutter and mock a broken charm/ To dally with wrong that does no harm") is fitting; the artists treated here, from Byron to the unnamed heroes of Gaull's pantomime, break the "charm" of dominant discourse in their mockery of it, dallying with wrong in the interest of undoing harm.

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