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This review is taken from PN Review 51, Volume 13 Number 1, September - October 1986.

TWICE BITTEN Karl Miller, Doubles (OUP) £19.50

Doubles is an astonishing work of criticism, characterized by multiplicities and ambiguities of pertinence as well as by dubieties and playful duplicities of significance and method. Its subtitle, 'Studies in Literary History', offers the reader an apparently safe place of entry, seeming to present the book as a literary historian's objection to the historical habit of dividing the literature of the last two centuries into Romantic and Modernist periods. In Miller's 'history' modes of Romantic feeling are rediscovered in, rather than repudiated by, Modernist doctrines: Eliot's 'dissociation of sensibility' is another type of Keats's 'negative capability'.

Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner is given as a Gothic original and prototype for the dozens of Romantic dualities and Modernistic discontinuities that follow. Hogg leads to Scott and to Wordsworth, thence to Keats and Dickens from whom we are led into Conrad and James. Romantic doublings in James prompt a series of discussions of Anglo-Americanism but, far from being confined to canonical literary texts, duality is shown to flood through a cluttered suburbia of contemporary and popular culture from Martin Amis to John Lennon, and to occur in such encultured phenomena as the escapology of Houdini, the double life of spies, the desertions of John Stonehouse and the horrendous delusions of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. 'Eliot and Poe,' we are assured at one point, 'are the one thing': a proposition which hints at an author following in the tradition of critics like Graham Hough and Frank Kermode who ...


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