Women-Writers of the Nineteenth Century

Women-Writers of the Nineteenth Century

Women-Writers of the Nineteenth Century

Women-Writers of the Nineteenth Century

Excerpt

This collection of studies does not aim at giving an exhaustive account of the contribution made by women to Nineteenth Century literature. Neither does it profess to be in any sense a "feminist" treatise. The writers selected were in all cases remarkable women; but they were something more -- remarkable human beings. I have endeavoured throughout to concentrate, not merely on questions of sex, but on the complete humanity of each woman. So far as possible all preconceived theories of the literary woman have been deliberately excluded. There is no initial attempt to determine what the woman of letters should be like. After looking carefully at these particular women, we may see what she has sometimes been like; and we may also discern certain characteristics common to different women of literary instinct. That is all the "theory" which this book professes to give. For its aim has not been the evolution of a principle. It has attempted something more elusive, and to many minds far more satisfying -- to look at individual writers, as it were face to face, with a quickened sense of kinship and reverence.

With regard to the proportional length of the separate sections, it may be necessary to make special reference to the study of Mrs Gaskell. Though it is the longest of the sections, this does not imply that Mrs Gaskell is to be considered as the most important of all the writers in question. The length of the section is due to the fact that she was many-sided, whereas the other women of stronger idiosyncracy -- and it . . .

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