Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The first (short) review

Here's the first review--all right, it's ridiculously short, but it's still a review--of Hypocrisy and the Politics of Politeness. It's from Choice, the journal of the ALA (makes recommendations about library purchase), and it's by G. Shivel of the University of Miami: "Davidson (Columbia) argues that the private costs of politeness, especially to women, arc too high. In her introduction she proposes to treat hypocrisy as morally neutral, but in her coda she articulates the goal as no less than the 'reconciliation of virtue and politeness.' She finds that politeness and truth too often exclude one another, with restraint either the shackle of oppression or the mask of hypocrisy. Davidson uncovers the insidiousness of politeness in 18th- and 19th-century fiction, especially Fielding's Pamela, and Austen's Mansfield Park. Other chapters cover the behavior of servants, expectations for women's manners, and adultery, including the willful reading of 'adultery' for 'gallantry' in contemporary interpretations of Lord Chesterfield's letters. John Locke enters the picture in an earnest but brief discussion of his 'Thoughts concerning Education' and his reaction to the 'servant problem.' Davidson has thoroughly absorbed, and carefully selects from, contemporary theoretical writings on literature, language, and society. She finds her best ammunition in the discussion of novels. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate and research collections."


  1. Fielding's Pamela? Unfortunate typo by the reviewer.

  2. You know, my eye completely skipped over that one! How awful...

  3. Somewhat amusing. (If the review had been bad, that would have been great "ammunition"--to use your reviewer's word--against any negative claims.) Your book is on my Amazon wish list; hope to read it soon.