Famous Last Words: Changes in Gender and Narrative Closure (Feminist Issues: Practice, Politics, Theory)

Famous Last Words: Changes in Gender and Narrative Closure (Feminist Issues: Practice, Politics, Theory)

By: Alison Booth (editor)Paperback

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This collection of original essays on women's relations to novelistic endings demonstrates the versatility and range of feminist criticism today. The authors, widely known in their fields, offer insights into the study of narrative, the changes in gender roles and cultural traditions since the Victorians, and the interaction of fictional forms and ideology from the mid-19th century to the present. ""Famous Last Words"" traces a broad historical transition - from the 1840s to the 1980s - from the more rigid dichotomy of the Victorian novel, in which good women must marry and fallen women die, to the more open alternatives of 20th-century fiction, which sometimes permit the independent female protagonist to survive and occasionally allow alternative constructions of gender as well as plot. Each essay treats a narrative - novel, novella or novel poem - by a single author in light of conventions of closure and of gender in historical context. The collection discusses obscure, best-selling, canonical or recently resurrected texts by men as well as women of English, American, or Caribbean origin. Because of this broad range, it also offers a representative literary history of novelistic endings, including those endings that begin to write new stories for women. Some of the essays recover forgotten texts by women: Ann Ardis revives Netta Syrett and Carla Peterson advances interest in Pauline Hopkins. Several essays revise our understanding of women writers once successful, but now somewhat marginalized: Christine Krueger writes on Elizabeth Gaskell, Herbert Tucker on Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Suzanne Jones on Katherine Anne Porter, Peter J. Rabinowitz on Sue Grafton and Shari Benstock on Edith Wharton. Others give voice to cultural ""others"": Sharon Davie examines Harriet Jacobs's ""Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"" and Caroline Rody offers fresh insight into Jean Rhys's ""Wide Sargasso Sea"". Alison Booth and Bonnie Zimmerman reassess works by the already canonized George Eliot, and Lisa Jadwin and Stephen Arata look at the representation of women in the canonical novels of the male writers William Thackeray and Henry James. In his afterword U.C. Knoepflmacher, by interweaving many famous last words, revives the changing contexts of literary recognition and revision in the English-speaking world from Victorian to modern. ""Famous Last Words"" should be of interest to anyone interested in feminist approaches to the 19th-century novel, in the ongoing rethinking of the modern period, in narrative study, or in the relation between gender and genre.

About Author

Alison Booth is Associate Professor of English at the University of Virginia. She is the author of Greatness Engendered: George Eliot and Virginia Woolf.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780813914374
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 400
  • ID: 9780813914374
  • ISBN10: 081391437X

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