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John Ruskin (1819-1900), English critic

John Ruskin's Continental Tour 1835: The Written Records and Drawings
Edited by Keith Hanley and Caroline S. Hull
Legenda (General Series) 19 December 2016

  • ‘At a time when scholars often find it difficult to find support for editions of archival and biographical materials relating to significant cultural figures, it is pleasing that this important volume has found its way into print through the endeavours of the editors and the MHRA, whose Legenda imprint makes high-quality editions of such materials available... The edition is perfectly conceived and delivers something approaching perfection. It should be of interest beyond Ruskin Studies, particularly to scholars of Romantic art, poetry, and landscape tourism, nineteenth-century travel, and Victorian science.’ — Mark Frost, Modern Language Review 113.4, October 2018, 863-64 (full text online)
  • ‘The interest of the texts collected in this volume is on the whole remarkable. They represent a variety of literary genres ranging from the prose diary, the letter in verse, the dramatic sketch, the short story narrative, genres through which the same travel matter is shaped and reshaped, demonstrating the precociousness and versatility of Ruskin’s genius, his witty ironic vein, but also his brilliant mastery of prose... The recent interest in emotional labour involved in diary and travel writing will certainly profit from the fresh material unearthed by this critical edition.’ — Emma Sdegno, Review of English Studies 69, September 2018, 803-05 (full text online)

Rebecca West (1892-1983), English journalist

The Sentinel: An Incomplete Early Novel by Rebecca West
Edited by Kathryn Laing
Legenda (General Series) 1 December 2002

  • ‘It is the least surprising thing in the world that Rebecca West should have begun a novel when she was 17, and that parts of it should be very good. She was only 18, after all, when her stinging reviews first appeared in The Freewoman and The Clarion, and caused sleepy Fabian giants to sit up and take notice of this fiercely intelligent Edinburgh schoolgirl juggling axes in the air... Richly rewarding.’ — Claudia FitzHerbert, Daily Telegraph 1 February, 2003, 5
  • ‘Quite a coup... West's urgent descriptions of events and characterisations of key figures, from politicians to the Pankhursts, can hardly be bettered. But this is more of a social history than it might first appear, thanks to the journalistic observations woven into her storytelling. Her description of the Daily Mail as 'the encyclopaedia of vulgarity' retains a certain resonance today.’ — Harriet Griffey, Financial Times 22 February, 2003, 4
  • ‘An astonishing piece of juvenilia... It is easy to recognise the real women who belonged to the militant Women's Social and Political Union: Mary Gawthorpe, Emily Davidson, Dora Marsden, Emmeline Pankhurst. The rise of the New Woman writing of the 1890s and suffragette fiction of the early twentieth century challenged strict definitions of feminine experience only to replace them with equally rigid rules governing women's social and political roles. West questions such demarcations. Her women long for motherhood and some of the most important suffragists are men. The novel's message is that love is not only more important than political power, it is the source of such power in the modern world and the modern novel.’ — Rosalind Porter, Times Literary Supplement 28 February, 2003, 24
  • ‘Here is an emerging and well-read mind confronting public and private matters... Laing's scholarly introduction is a rich tool for reading this novel. Though unsophisticated and fragmentary as a novel, The Sentinel is nevertheless a richly worked resource; a readable and fascinating historical document that brings much of the time and its author to life.’ — Antonia Byatt, Times Higher Education Supplement 18 April, 2003, 28
  • ‘Not only the publication of The Sentinel, but the way it has been published, may represent a tidal change in the way its author's work is now received... Fascinating to readers interested in the development of West as a woman, because it is obsessively concerned not only with feminist politics but with sexuality, and with the compelling beauty of certain girls and women, pored over in erotic detail... The most striking passages, which foreshadow the vivid reportage of her maturity, are the accounts of suffragette marches, protests and riots... Carries in it the seeds of almost everything that was to preoocupy West throughout her writing life. Laing's treatment of The Sentinel may complete the transition of her fiction, and of her work as a whole, out of the overcrowded 20th-century mainstream and into the canon.’ — Victoria Glendinning, The Guardian 20 December, 2003, G2