The concern of this issue on post-colonial interdisciplinarity is with the apparent need for interdisciplinary approaches in post-colonial analyses: analyses that take textuality as their object but which are framed around wider social or political questions of power. By necessity such analyses take the critic into territories that until the end of the 1960s were not considered the property of literary studies. Yet, however necessary this expansion of the critic’s focus has been in order to allow literary criticism to comment on the social functions of representation, it has exposed post-colonialism to a range of criticisms, many of which seem to arise from a perceived weakness in its interdisciplinary approach. For instance, as the gaze of the critic has been cast increasingly widely, many conservative commentators have come to lament the loss of the text. This concern has perhaps been less hotly contested in Britain than in the U.S., where the socalled ‘Canon Wars’ split departments. Nevertheless it seems especially problematic for post-colonial studies because even its fairly modest project of opening up the canon to writers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East has been predicated on a fundamentally political concern with wider forms of inequality, of which Eurocentric reading practices are only one facet.
The production of models, narratives or ‘visions’ of the 1930s, as with any other periodising, involves processes of selection and rejection, inclusion and exclusion. It is a matter of no small interest that one of the most significant areas of exclusion from such paradigms has been the Empire. This article points to, but hardly constitutes a rectification of, that situation. Rather than any attempt at ‘the big picture’, in its allotted space it offers more in the way of a thumbnail sketch, but one which aims at something like a symptomatic relevance in its juxtaposition of two areas of textual production to give a sense of the ideological and political struggles taking place via the various envisionings and revisionings of imperialism in this period.
On 1 February 1859 literary history was made with the publication of a novel called Adam Bede. Achorus of critical acclaim followed in periodicals across the political spectrum as, moving from left to right, the Westminster Review, the Athenaeum and the Saturday Review all trumpeted their approval. E.S. Dallas’s review in The Times is representative of the predominant tone with its opening declaration that ‘there can be no mistake about Adam Bede. It is a first-rate novel, and its author takes rank at once among the masters of the art’. Charles Dickens wrote a letter of praise, as did Jane Welsh Carlyle, while Queen Victoria’s admiration was such that she commissioned paintings of two scenes from the novel.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton Paying the Price of Greatness
Edward Bulwer-Lytton, one of the greatest innovators in literature and an important political figure of the nineteenth century, was the apotheosis of the great man.3 In view of this, it is surprising that he is all but forgotten today. When he is remembered, it is most likely to be as an object of buffoonery perpetuated by the competition at San Jose State University in California for the worst opening of a novel, inspired by the beginning of Paul Clifford (1830): ‘It was a dark and stormy night’.4 Unfairly, he is not commemorated for its humanitarian ending, which declares: ‘THE VERY WORST USE TO WHICH YOU CAN PUT A MAN IS TO HANG HIM’.
The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon opened on 23 April 1879 with a performance of Much Ado About Nothing; sixty-five year old Helen Faucit, long semi-retired from the stage, played the role of Beatrice. This essay explores the cultural politics informing the event from the perspective of Faucit's involvement, exploring her significance to the performance and the performance's significance to her through a series of textual lenses - including theatre reviews, Faucit's personal correspondence, her critical work On Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters and Sir Theodore Martin's posthumous biography of his wife. From a public perspective, Faucit endowed the supposedly provincial town of Stratford, its festival and its new theatrical institution with national stature; from the actress's private perspective, the event was both a professional engagement and a community celebration among old and new friends, bringing together the different facets of her long personal engagement with Shakespeare.
Randall Swingler was a poet in a very English literary tradition. He was the last of the Georgian poets, writing lovingly about the English countryside long after the Modernist urbanisation of poetry. He believed that poetry was the voice of the people. And he was the inheritor and the bearer of a radical vision of England rooted in the English rural landscape and the common people. Standing in direct line of descent from Langland, Winstanley, Milton, Blake, Morris and Edward Thomas, he was a late poet of Old Dissent, combining a love of the English countryside with Christian fellowship and an English Puritan’s hatred of privilege and power, property and money. For Randall Swingler, poetry had a moral and a political urgency, a responsibility to testify against cant and hypocrisy, and to bear witness to a utopian vision of an open-shirted, classless Commonwealth which would one day liberate human living, loving and creativity.
People write biographies of Shakespeare for many different reasons, often in combination. Rarely, if ever, is it out of a desire to disseminate new information, though a technique that can illuminate is to find new ways of placing long-established facts within a fresh context. Biographical discoveries, and serious scholarly treatment of biographical issues, are more likely to be communicated through articles in learned journals. Full-length biographies may be the consequence of a creative wish to engage with and to entertain imagined readerships, or a desire to educate, or the fulfilment of personal or polemical agenda, possibly at least partly subconscious: feminist, or psychosexual, or political; and also, less worthily but no less understandably, of a desire to make money or a search for professional advancement.
The Jesuits as Cultural Mediators in Early Modern Europe
Though religious matters have long been part of Shakespeare criticism, they have not been the most popular ones on this agenda for a long time. In the last two decades, however, the question of Shakespeare’s personal religious belief has been re-introduced to the scene of early modern studies and vividly discussed by Shakespeare scholars all over the world. The topic has thus proved to be much more than a wave of fashion in Shakespeare studies and certainly deserves further critical investigation. For matters of space this essay must be restricted to one of the numerous questions that concern the field, i.e., the cultural and political impact which the early Jesuit mission, and here the Provincia Germaniae Superioris, had on William Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and the theatre of his time.
The World of Irish Women's Best-sellers
This is the opening of Patricia Scanlan’s first best-seller, City Girl, and it also marks the beginning of a compelling chapter in Irish publishing. In 1990, City Girl made the publishers, Poolbeg, a household name in Ireland, finally establishing them in the commercial market they had been chasing since Meave Binchy defected to English publishers with her break through novel Light a Penny Candle (1982). Within twelve months of City Girl’s first run, Scanlan and her editor were media celebrities and other publishers were finding suitable candidates for the packaging process – resulting in best-sellers Deirdre Purcell and Liz Ryan. By best-selling fiction I am referring to high-selling, widely read, popular fiction. The genre is identifiable by packaging, location and theme: fat books about love and relationships, four hundred pages at the least; two or three word titles often eclipsed in size and prominence by the author’s name. These books are widely available outside conventional bookshops, on sale in airports, train stations, supermarkets, large newsagents and corner shops. This thriving best-seller genre has gone largely unremarked in Irish cultural criticism. Yet there has been a remarkable coincidence between its appearance and an upsurge of feminist writing questioning the literary, historical and political heritage of ‘mother Ireland’ for Irish women.
Storm Jameson's Debt to France
This essay has a double purpose. The first is to set out the function of France, as the place of salvation, in Storm Jameson’s writing in and about the 1930s. The second is to suggest that her familiarity with French culture – specifically, French writing – provided key models for some of the most important formal innovations she embarked on in that time. Jameson’s was one of the voices most consistently raised against the low, dishonest decade. She devoted herself to conducting two interconnected salvage operations on the social wreck: in the one, recovering a sense of human values (for her, those of a socialism that foregrounds respect for individual needs and dignity), and in the other, looking for that honest and politically effective way of writing about them which was the elusive goal of all her contemporaries on the Left. The success of both was linked for her to the French connection. In the mid-1930s, her Mirror in Darkness trilogy, planned as a five- or six-volume series novel, ran into sand. In the last volume, the heroine, Hervey, who is and is not Jameson, seems to have come to a dead end. Ten years later, however, she is back, in the Journal of Mary Hervey Russell (1945), speaking with a new voice. That Journal is written from France, and it breathes out, at every turn of the page, Hervey’s sense of a personal debt to the country for having redeemed her vision and her writing.