The Worlding of Jean Rhys

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Greenwood Press, 1999 - Literary Criticism - 220 pages
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Best known as the author of Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys continues to draw growing amounts of popular and scholarly attention. This book explores Rhys's sense of world, the cross-cultural and the international in her novels, stories, and autobiographical writing. The volume situates Rhys's writing in relation to the Dominican cultural production with which she was familiar, to Rhys's family's history on the island, and to European ethnographic discourses about white creole people. Special attention is given to the political and ethical locations of Rhys's authorial and narrative voices with respect to discourses of empire, gender, sex, race, class, ethnicity, and desire. The book demonstrates that an historical reading of Rhys's work poses questions for a number of current theoretical approaches.

Where and how does Jean Rhys write herself, her fiction, and her characters into history? To address this question, Sue Thomas has conducted wide-ranging primary and original research to elucidate Rhys's sense of world, the cross-cultural and the international in her novels, stories, and autobiographical writing. She situates Rhys's writing in relation to the Dominican cultural production and traffic with which she was familiar, to Rhys's family's history on the island, and to European ethnographic discourses about white creole people.

In her reading of Rhys's fiction and autobiographical texts she analyzes the political and ethical locations of Rhys's authorial and narrative voices with respect to discourses of empire, gender, sex, race, class, ethnicity, and desire that shaped Rhys's sense of the materiality of the world. In doing so, Thomas draws out new dimensions of the racial, ethnic, and sexual formation of Rhys's modernism. As a result, she demonstrates that an historical reading of Rhys's work poses questions for a number of current theoretical approaches.

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About the author (1999)

SUE THOMAS is Senior Lecturer in English at La Trobe University. She has published extensively on Jean Rhys, late nineteenth- and twentieth-century women's writing, feminist theory, postcolonial writers, and Victorian and Edwardian periodicals. She is a member of the editorial boards of Jean Rhys Review, Australasian Victorian Studies Journal, and Meridian, and an advisory editor of New Literatures Review: Decolonising Literatures.

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