A literature of their own : British women novelists from Brontë to Lessing /

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Main Author: Showalter, Elaine.
Format: Book
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Review by Choice Review

Showalter (Princeton Univ.) upholds many of the concerns and discoveries she expressed in the first edition of this book (CH, Nov'77), notably her distinction between the feminine, the feminist, and the female stages in the history of women's writing. She continues to define the feminine phase as 1840 (the appearance of the male pseudonym) to 1880 (when George Eliot died); the feminist phase, 1880 to "the winning of the vote" in 1920; the female, from 1920 to the present, with a new stage of awareness occurring in about 1960. In the earlier edition Showalter strove to establish carefully constructed frames to explain the unfolding of writing by women; now she realizes that although women novelists and critics have gained acceptance in every field, the history of women's writing "will never be finished." Showalter's provides a most readable account of that history--she refrains from the use of jargon that makes so many books on feminist topics unappealing; her writing has the rhythms and pace of narrative. Of particular interest are the chapters "Feminine Heroines: Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot" and "Feminine Heroes: The Woman's Man." The only awkwardness occurs in Showalter's introduction, in which she seems somewhat defensive as she addresses critics' remarks about the earlier edition. Graduates through faculty. J. A. Dompkowski Canisius College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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