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edited by Julie Nash and Barbara A. Suess; pp. xv + 232. Aldershot and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2001, 42.50 [pounds sterling], $74.95.
Termed by George Moore a literary Cinderella, Anne Bronte has only recently been restored to the critical attention she enjoyed upon the first publication of her novels. For complex reasons of family history and personal proclivities, Charlotte Bronte did not encourage the republication of Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) after the first edition quickly sold out. And Anne's own invisibility inevitably followed the lapse of her work's availability.
Editors Julie Nash and Barbara A. Suess have set out to help remedy the long neglect of this youngest Bronte by adding to other recent reassessments a collection of essays from diverse hands, both established and new scholars. Their introduction strikes an unfortunately limiting note in returning too automatically as a point of departure to the old truisms about Bronte's art: it is autobiographical, derivative, didactic. Making that gesture at the outset suggests a much more restricted enterprise than the volume, in fact, delivers. Fortunately, the essays tend to escape the limitation of this …