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Women Writing Women

  • Avril Horner
  • Sue Zlosnik

Abstract

Writing in 1979, Patricia Stubbs identified a problem encountered by feminist writers at the end of the nineteenth century as still having relevance for the current generation of women writers. ‘This’, she claims:

is a difficulty peculiar to realist fiction — that of how to incorporate it into a form whose essential characteristic is the exploration of existing realities, experiences and aspirations which go well beyond the possibilities afforded by that reality…. This explains the increasing importance of non-realist linear narrative forms in contemporary women’s writing.

She cites Monique Wittig, Beryl Bainbridge, Angela Carter and Patricia Highsmith as writers who write in fantasy modes in order to evade this constraint.1 Those feminist writers of fiction who remained within realist paradigms found themselves writing narratives of victimhood: Margaret Drabble’s heroines are an interesting example. ‘This, above all, to refuse to be a victim’, says Margaret Atwood’s nameless narrator at the end of her 1972 novel Surfacing.2 In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of women novelists did just that and found in the traditions of Gothic the potential for writing transgression that challenged patriarchal assumptions and expectations in the late twentieth-century context. In Gothic’s hybridity they discovered ways of opening up parodic spaces to comic and liberating effect.

Keywords

Romantic Love Woman Writer Feminist Writer Wide Vocabulary Feminist Reader 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Patricia Stubbs, Women and Fiction: Feminism and the Novel 1880–1920 (Brighton: The Harvester Press, 1979), pp. 234–235.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Margaret Atwood, Surfacing (1972; London: Virago, 1979), p. 191.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Hilary Mantel, Fludd (1989; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1999), p. 12. All page references, which will appear hereafter in the text, are to this edition.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Angela Carter, ‘The Loves of Lady Purple’ (1974) in Angela Carter (ed.), Wayward Girls and Wicked Women (London: Virago, 1986). All page references, which will appear hereafter in the text, are to this edition.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Fay Weldon, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1983; London: Coronet Books, 1987), p. 6. All page references, which will appear hereafter in the text, are to this edition.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Susanne Becker, Gothic Forms of Feminine Fiction (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1999), p. 191.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Jerrold E. Hogle, ‘Our Culture of Simulation’ in Fred Botting (ed.), The Gothic (Cambridge: Brewer, 2001), p. 161.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (1988; London: Vintage, 1989), p. 24. All page references, which will appear hereafter in the text, are to this edition.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Sara Martin, ‘The Power of Monstrous Women’ in The Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1999), pp. 193–210, 203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 16.
    As this book has attempted to demonstrate, this is not a judgement with which we concur. Sybil Korff Vincent, ‘The Mirror and the Cameo: Margaret Atwood’s Comic/Gothic Novel’ in Juliann Fleenor (ed.), The Female Gothic (Montreal: Eden Press, 1983), p. 153.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    Coral Ann Howells, Margaret Atwood (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996), p. 62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 18.
    Margaret Atwood, Lady Oracle (1976; London: Virago Press, 1982), p. 225. All page references, which will appear hereafter in the text, are to this edition.Google Scholar
  13. 20.
    Tania Modleski, Loving with a Vengeance: Mass-Produced Fantasies for Women (New York and London: Routledge, 1982)Google Scholar
  14. and Janice Radway, Reading the Romance (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  15. 21.
    Margaret Atwood, interview with Karla Hammond (1978) quoted in Earl G. Ingersoll (ed.), Margaret Atwood: Conversations (Princeton: Ontario Review Press, 1990), p. 107.Google Scholar
  16. 23.
    Linda Hutcheon, The Canadian Postmodern: A Study of Contemporary English-Canadian Fiction (Oxford and Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 146.Google Scholar
  17. 25.
    Interview with Betsy Draine (April 1981) quoted in L.S. Dembo, Interviews with Contemporary Writers (Second Series 1972–1982) (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983), p. 380.Google Scholar
  18. 26.
    Eleonora Reo, ‘Margaret Atwood’s Lady Oracle: Writing against Notions of Unity’ in Colin Nicholson (ed.), Margaret Atwood: Writing and Subjectivity (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994), p. 142.Google Scholar
  19. 28.
    See, for example, Barbara Hill Rigney, Margaret Atwood (London: Macmillan, 1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 29.
    See, for example, Sonia Mycak, In Search of the Split Subject: Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology, and the Novels of Margaret Atwood (Toronto: ECW Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Writing Beyond the Ending: Narrative Strategies of Twentieth-Century Women Writers (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985).Google Scholar
  22. 32.
    Lucie Armitt, ‘The Fragile Frames of The Bloody Chamber’ in Joseph Bristow and Trev Lynn Broughton (eds), The Infernal Desires of Angela Carter (London: Longman, 1997), p. 89.Google Scholar
  23. 33.
    Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber (1979; London: Vintage, 1995), p. 40. All page references, which will appear hereafter in the text, are to this edition.Google Scholar
  24. 34.
    Aidan Day, Angela Carter: The Rational Glass (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), p. 156.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Avril M. Horner and Susan H. Zlosnik 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Avril Horner
  • Sue Zlosnik

There are no affiliations available

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