A literature of their own: British Women Novelists, from Brontë to Lessing
When first published in 1982, A LITERATURE OF THEIR OWN quickly set the stage for the creative explosion of feminist literary studies that transformed the field in the 1980s. Launching a major new area for literary investigation, the book uncovered the long but neglected tradition of women writers and the development of their fiction from the 1800s onwards. It includes assessments of famous writers such as the Brontės, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Drabble and Doris Lessing, but also presents critical appraisals of Mary Braddon, Rhoda Broughton and Sarah Grand - to name but a few of those prolific and successful Victorian novelists - once household names, now largely forgotten. This revised and expanded edition contains a new introductory chapter surveying the book's reception as well as a postscript chapter celebrating the legacy of feminism and feminist criticism in the efflorescence of contemporary British fiction by women.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
During a heat wave you would think I'd be reading something light and "beachy" but no, I've been reading this serious critical look at British women novelists from Bronte to Lessing from a feminist point of view. This is a revised and expanded edition of her original book published in 1977 I believe. Those early women novelists were admirable, strong women. With all the restrictions on their education and lifestyle, they still managed to write novels that are widely read even today. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and all the other beloved novels they wrote have much of value to say to we modern women with all our freedoms. Just think, they had little or no education, were only trained to catch a man, hopefully a rich one, and had no knowledge of the life of anyone other than people just like themselves. Most of us would go stark raving mad with all their confining rules. Their fathers and then husbands had total control over them, even over what they were allowed to read. We get a slight taste of this kind of life watching series on Masterpiece Theater, but the girls in those families are sly enough to find ways around the men in their lives. I doubt most women in 19th century English upper classes could get away with such things. Showalter, a Princeton professor, wrote this book as a result of an academic study of all the women novelists in England and this is a book that could easily be used as a textbook. That is not to say that it is dry and boring, anything but. I found it very readable and fascinating, enough so to read it through a week of terrible heat and humidity. Now I'm going on to something very light, but this book told me not only about the writing these women did, but nearly every aspect of their lives. The addition of novelists of the modern day through Doris Lessing is a small part of the overall book. The feminist aspects of the book are enlightening as well, and Showalter includes much about the suffragists' struggle for the vote and against war. I confess this was the least interesting part to me, but I must admit that it would be impossible to separate the feminist movement from English women's literature since each was influenced greatly by the other. I recommend this book but not to everyone. If you are interested in women's history or the early English women novelists, you will enjoy this study. Otherwise, you'll do better to stick with the actual novels, but don't let yourself be misguided in the thought that 19th century novels will be boring. You'll miss some excellent reads.
Review: A Literature Of Their Own: British Women Novelists From Brontë To LessingUser Review - Goodreads
Elaine Showalter pioneered women's studies in this book. If you love British novels and haven't read this book, you will discover wonderful writers -- and you will know how lucky we are today that they persevered.
The Female Tradition
The Feminine Novelists and the Will to Write
The Double Critical Standard and the Feminine Novel
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