Rereading Women: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions

Rereading Women: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions

Sandra M. Gilbert

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0393067645

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Rereading Women: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions

Sandra M. Gilbert

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0393067645

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A collection of essays that reexamine literature through a feminist gaze from "one of our most versatile and gifted writers" (Joyce Carol Oates).

"We think back through our mothers if we are women," wrote Virginia Woolf. In this groundbreaking series of essays, Sandra M. Gilbert explores how our literary mothers have influenced us in our writing and in life. She considers the effects of these literary mothers by examining her own history and the work of such luminaries as Charlotte Brontë, Emily Dickinson, and Sylvia Plath. In the course of the book, she charts her own development as a feminist, demonstrates ways of understanding the dynamics of gender and genre, and traces the redefinitions of maternity reflected in texts by authors such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot.

Throughout, Gilbert asks major questions about feminism in the twentieth century: Why and how did its ideas become so necessary to women in the sixties and seventies? What have those feminist concepts come to mean in the new century? And above all, how have our intellectual mothers shaped our thoughts today?

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esp. with an enemy occupying one’s country” the Vichy government of France during World War II is the most dramatic example of such collaboration. But how, after all, could Susan and I be considered collaborators in that second, malevolent sense? Neither was an enemy nation, neither “occupied” the other in a military sense. Nor were we in any way “collaborating” with an external foe. Or were we? From the point of view of some feminist activists, especially young Third Wave women, academic

brother/lover Osiris back together again, like Demeter reconstructing her son Dionysos, the swans’ sister does for her brothers what all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not do for that sad egg Humpty Dumpty: she brings about a resurrection. Significantly, moreover, the swans’ sister’s mode of re-creation is neither passive nor receptive, as woman’s sexual/maternal power was traditionally thought to be. On the contrary, while her brothers are helpless in the grip of circumstances,

yourself in this fiery mist & I cannot reach you, but only rejoice in the rare sparkles of light.” 2. For a newspaper story about a real “New England Nun” whose career would have been known to Dickinson, see Leyda, vol. 1, p. 148; for a fictionalized account of a “New England Nun” that mythologizes female domesticity in a way partly (though not wholly) comparable to Dickinson’s own, see Freeman, “A New England Nun” Leyda, vol. 2, pp. 576 and 151. 3. The Boston Cooking-School Magazine, June–July

Byronically glowering Orson Welles. That Jane and Cathy were more dubiously identified with, on the one hand, the timid prettiness of Joan Fontaine and, on the other hand, the come-hither elegance of Merle Oberon testifies to a tension between page and screen that would prove productive for feminism—for weren’t Fontaine and Oberon just the kinds of socially sanctioned female figures the Brontë heroines were struggling not to become? I didn’t quite realize this when I first began my researches

that somewhere in the shadows of her own psyche her mother country endures, despite the pseudo-Oedipal wrenching she has undergone. As Aurora grows into the fragmentation that seems to be (English) woman’s lot, things go from bad to worse. Exiled from the undifferentiated unity of her mother country, the girl discovers that her parents have undergone an even more complicated set of metamorphoses than she at first realized, for not only has her true dead southern mother been replaced by a false

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