Gendering Classicism: The Ancient World in Twentieth-Century Women's Historical Fiction

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SUNY Press, 1997 - History - 199 pages
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Gendering Classicism explores the intersection of feminism, historical fiction, and modernism through the work of six writers, all of whom wrote historical novels set in ancient Greece or Rome: Naomi Mitchison, Mary Butts, Laura Riding, Phyllis Bentley, Bryher, and Mary Renault. As women gained access to higher education in the late nineteenth century, they gained access also to the classical learning that had for so long demarcated and legitimated the British ruling classes. Steeped in misogyny, the classical tradition presented educated women with a massive project: the recasting of that tradition in terms that acknowledged the existence of women - as historical agents and interpreters of the historical past.
 

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Contents

Reading History Resisting History
1
Greece Gender and The Golden Bough
15
History Ritual and Gender in Naomi Mitchisons Greece
25
Mana and Narrative in Mary Buttss Greece
43
Laura Riding Unwrites the White Goddess
57
Genital Ambiguity in Mary Renaults Historical Novels
73
Gender and Narrative in Bryhers Gate to the Sea
89
Ancient Rome Gender and British Imperialism
103
Naomi Mitchison and Rome
119
Mary Buttss Cleopatra
137
Historical Fiction as Equivocation
151
Bryher the GraecoPhoenician and Rome
165
Works Cited
181
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About the author (1997)

Ruth Hoberman is Professor of English at Eastern Illinois University. She is the author of Modernizing Lives: Experiments in English Biography 1918-1939, and coauthor of McGraw-Hill Guide to World Literature.

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