Writing a Woman's Life

Writing a Woman's Life

Writing a Woman's Life

Writing a Woman's Life

Excerpt

To justify an unorthodox life by writing about it is to reinscribe the original violation, to reviolate masculine turf.

—NANCY K. MILLER

THERE ARE FOUR WAYS to write a woman's life: the woman herself may tell it, in what she chooses to call an autobiography; she may tell it in what she chooses to call fiction; a biographer, woman or man, may write the woman's life in what is called a biography; or the woman may write her own life in advance of living it, unconsciously, and without recognizing or naming the process. In this book, I shall discuss three of these four ways, omitting, for the most part, an analysis of the fictions in which many women have written their lives. For these stories in women's fiction, both the conventional and the subversive, have been examined in recent years with great brilliance and sophistication by a new generation of literary critics, and the work of these feminist critics has been so penetrating and persuasive that learning to read fictional representations of gender arrangements in our culture, whether of difference, oppression, or possibility, is an opportunity now available to anyone who will take the time to explore this vast and compelling body of criticism.

It has been otherwise with the lives of women. True, numberless biographies of women have appeared in recent years . . .

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