After the War

  • Lorna Sage


Feminism was over. When Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex heaped up all the anthropological-philosophical-sociological-psychological evidence on the dependence and Other-ness of women, she was researching a vanishing race: ‘…already some of us have never had to sense in our femininity an inconvenience or an obstacle’.1 She stood at the end of a century and a half’s romantic enlightenment, a human individual (almost) at last. In theory, she would have been horrified at the thought that she heralded yet another era of self-consciousness and polemic on the part of women writers. Actually, of course, as The Second Sex testifies, she found a new world among the horrors. And it’s this fertile contradiction — between her yearning towards universality, and her fascinated reflexiveness — that makes her the inevitable starting-point for a study of contemporary women novelists.


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Simone de Beauvoir

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    Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, (Le Deuxième Sexe, Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1949) tr. H. M. Parshley, 1953, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972, p. 27.Google Scholar
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Doris Lessing

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    Michel Foucault, op. cit., p. 144. For a slightly fuller version of this reading of Lessing’s’ science fiction’ novels, see Lorna Sage, ‘The Available Space’ in Moira Monteith (ed.), Women’s Writing: A Challenge to Theory, Sussex: Harvester Press, 1986, pp. 15–33.Google Scholar

Nathalie Sarraute

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© Lorna Sage 1992

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  • Lorna Sage

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