prisoners, by homegrown fascists likernValentin Rasputin and unrepentant communistsrnlike Vladimir Skurlatin. BrucernLincoln closes with an appreciation ofrnSiberia’s complexities and of its uneasyrnrelationship with Russia. Like his earlierrnhistories of the Red Army and of revolutionaryrnRussia, The Conquest of a Continentrnis thoroughly satisfying. I wishrnonly that the author had found room inrnhis ample bibliography for V.K. Arsenevev’srnstirring memoir Dersu thernHunter, the basis for Akira Kurosawa’srn1975 film Dersu Vzala. (Readers movedrnby Lincoln’s book will want to see bothrnthat movie and the Soviet televisionproducedrnepic Siheriade, only recentlyrnreleased.) Otherwise, The Conquest of arnContinent is a model of scholarly thoroughnessrnand a pleasure as well.rnGregory McNamee’s latest hook is Gila:rnThe Life and Death of an AmericanrnRiver (Crown PubUshers).rnTally Halt!rnbyf.O. TaternThe Columbia History ofrnthe British Novelrnedited by John RichettirnNew York: Columbia University Press;rn1064 pp., $69.95rnThe history of the British novel is arngreat topic that must periodicallyrnbe reconsidered, particularly now whenrnwe are so much more sophisticated thanrnthose provincials who wrote the novels asrnwell as those belletrists whose accountsrnof those novels have become hopelesslyrnpasse. Looking back, we have to smile atrnEdward Wagenknecht’s Cavalcade of thernEnglish Novel (1943), the 30th and lastrnchapter of which is devoted to that giant,rnWalter de la Mare, author of Memoirs ofrna Midget. Surely a thoughtful and contemporaryrnapproach would be productive,rnas expounded by many academicrnauthorities and pubhshed under thernaegis of a university noted for its distinguishedrnprofessors and its riots.rnAnd indeed we do find in this historyrnof the British novel many useful pages.rnThe best chapters, I think, are Robert M.rnPolhemus’s on Lewis Carroll and MichaelrnSeidel’s on James Joyce. ProfessorrnPolhemus has a charm and energy thatrnare uniquely kinetic—though thosernqualities may be misplaced here, sincernCarroll didn’t write any novels. ProfessorrnSeidel has also written an inspired responsernto great writing that emphasizesrn”langwedge” with a success not easilyrnfound elsewhere in this volume. Delightfulrncommentaries such as thesernmake us want to read, but too much ofrnthis history makes me want to take a longrnwalk.rnBecause there is too much modishrntheory and tendentious revisionism,rnthere is too little literary history and notrnenough novels. George McCartney, whornhas written elsewhere with authority onrnEvelyn Waugh, does so here once againrnin a most instructive way. But a glance atrnBrideshead Revisited provokes an awarenessrnthat quite a bit is missing not sornmuch from his account of Waugh asrnfrom this history of the British novel.rnWhen, for instance, in chapter two ofrnthat memorable work, the narrator remembersrnbeing invited to dinner by AnthonyrnBlanche, the complex come-on isrnput this way: “We will drink Rhine winernand imagine ourselves… where? Not onrna j-j-jaunt with J-J-Jorrocks, anyway. Butrnfirst we will have our aperitif.” Well, ofrncourse. That outrageous poof, AnthonyrnBlanche, hints at Oscar Wilde’s wittyrndepreciation of the English cult of foxhunting:rn”the unspeakable in full pursuitrnof the uneatable.” But the cultural dividernbetween Blanche and Wilde andrnthe Higher Sodomy and aestheticism ofrnOxford, on the one hand, and the traditionalrnrough-and-tumble of manly pursuitsrnand blood sports on the other,rnevoked by a narrator in uniform during arnworld war, is expressed in this Britishrnnovel through an allusion to—a Britishrnnovel. Waugh and the fictional Blanchernand the narrator all expected recognitionrnof R.S. Surtees’s The jaunts and Jollitiesrnof that Renowned Sporting Citizen,rnMr. John Jorrocks, of St. Botolph Lanernand Great Coram Street, usually knownrnas Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities (1831).rnBut that is not the only reason why I wasrnrather disappointed to find Robert SmithrnSurtees omitted entirely from this historyrnof the British novel.rnAnd such was not my only disappointment,rnI must say. Even GeorgernMcCartney treats Wyndham Lewis as arnmere influence on Waugh and not as arnpuissant creator in his own right. ElsewherernLewis’s Apes of God (1930) isrnbarely noticed, and there is no mentionrnof those outstanding British novels Tarr,rnThe Revenge for Love, and Self-Condemned,rnto name but three. The chancernis muffed to put Lewis—peer and enemyrnof James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and D.H.rnLawrence—in perspective. Martin Seymour-rnSmith, in his Who’s Who in Twentieth-rnCentury Literature (1976), put itrnthis way: “Lewis is without question therngreatest English-language writer of therncentury and one of the greatest in worldrnliterature.” That maybe overstating therncase a bit, but not by much. Anyway, ifrnthe greatest British novelist of the centuryrnisn’t Waugh or Lewis, then perhapsrnhe must be Pelham Grenville Wodehouse,rnwho is, needless to say, also neglected.rnBut there’s no need to be so modern.rnThose word-soaked geniuses, JamesrnJoyce and Wyndham Lewis, were keenlyrnaware of the verbal brilliance of ThomasrnNashe, a “novelist” and pamphleteerrnbefore Shakespeare hit his stride. But—rnyou guessed it—Nashe isn’t mentionedrnin these pages, either. Agatha Christie,rnthe best-selling writer in world history,rnisn’t mentioned. Neither is JohnrnBuchan. But I suppose by now it mustrnbe clear that we should attune ourselvesrnto what The Columbia History of thernBritish Novel is telling us, rather thanrnenumerate all of its shortcomings.rnA quick impression goes somethingrnlike this: the British novel from its beginningsrnhas been obsessed by feministrnstridency, Stalinist politics, and a homosexualrnagenda. That is why theoreticalrnappeal to the writings of contemporaryrnfeminist theorists, Stalinists, and homosexualsrnis authoritative, because the disinterestedrnthoughts of feminists, Stalinists,rnand homosexuals are directlyrnattuned to the contexts of authors whornhave been dead for a century or two.rnGothic novels are about homosexualrnpanic; Jane Austen’s lucidity and comprehensionrnare an illusion; repression andrnconformity produced bad fiction in thern1950’s.rnIf it was rather silly of Wagenknecht torngive one chapter of 30 to Walter de larnMare in his history of the British novel,rnwhat are we to say of Professor Richetti,rnwho has delegated one chapter of 39 tornDoris Lessing and her memoirs of arnmunchkin? Perhaps we should simply ascribernthat blunder to affirmative action,rnsince it has nothing, like remarkablyrnmuch in this book, to do with writing.rnStill, there is much to learn from ThernOCTOBER 1994/41rnrnrn