Magazine article Resources for Gender and Women's Studies: A Feminist Review

The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century British and Irish Women's Poetry

Magazine article Resources for Gender and Women's Studies: A Feminist Review

The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century British and Irish Women's Poetry

Article excerpt

Jane Dowson, ed., THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO TWENTIETH-CENTURY BRITISH AND IRISH WOMEN'S POETRY. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 240p. bibl. illus. index. $82.00, ISBN 978-0521197854; pap., $29.99, ISBN 978-0521120217.

Jane Dowson is joined by nine other knowledgeable and weighty critics in crafting a reference work of shimmering dissonance, in which readers can experience the art and pathos of British and Irish female poets of the last century. This slim and tightly structured volume begins with a thoughtful nine-page chronology that identifies historical, cultural and literary events that progressively led to the end of Empire, and does so with a uniquely feminist slant. History here begins with Empire still heavily present in 1901, with the death of Queen Victoria, paired with the cultural/literary event of Rudyard Kipling's publication of Kim, based on the nineteenth-century India of Empire. The concluding years of the chronology are 1998-2000, a period marked by the devolution of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The cultural/literary event highlighted for that period is the nomination of Carol Ann Duffy as British Poet Laureate (Duffy was the first woman so honored).

Chapter 1 introduces both critics and poets, and then follow ten succinct discursive chapters, where rather dense text averages about fifteen pages, with each chapter supported by an average of sixty-six references. For example, Chapter 2 (with fifty-one references) notes that "The silliness and shrillness of the music of Sitwell and Smith--which turns feminine self-parody into satire of masculine assumptions of its own rational authority . …

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