Coda: Phantom Feminism
Throughout this study, a curious kind of phantom feminism has accompanied the literary representations of women’s upward mobility. In early chapters, there is discontent and questioning but no elaborated discourse or political movement. In later chapters, feminism is often seen as having relevance only by incorporation into an ethic of individualism or as part of management strategies. But a critical feminism never quite goes away and continues to haunt. Authors are conscious of the questions posed by feminism and the retrospective mode in Linda Grant’s novels and Margaret Drabble’s The Sea Lady (2006) revives feminism without idealising it. In various ways, the literature both confirms and questions Lauren Berlant’s thesis on ‘alternative modes of life’ and the viability of ‘the good life’.
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