<<The>> poetics of pedantry from Thomas Bowdler to Susan Ferrier
Susan Ferrier's explorations of canonicity have paradoxically made her work resistant to feminist projects of expanding the canon. Despite her usefulness in literary-historical narratives as a token of gender balance or of national symmetry, Ferrier's esthetic of the hackneyed has made her novels increasingly hard for even literary historians to read, or rather fustratingly easy. Her glib derivativeness resists the most basic critical assumptions bout the uses of intertextuality, while the common literacy culture which her novels invoke leaves no space for scholarly ingenuity. Less concerned to represent a world than to exercise readers' taste, Ferrier's novels make no sense within the framework through which we usually read realist fiction. But they do become legible if situated instead within a competing contemporary culture of the anthology. Ferrier's fiction borrows not only the modular form of turn-of-the-century literary anthologies, but also their project of training readers to situate themselves within an emerging British public.