From the Hearth to the Open Road: A Feminist Study of Aging in Contemporary Literature

From the Hearth to the Open Road: A Feminist Study of Aging in Contemporary Literature

From the Hearth to the Open Road: A Feminist Study of Aging in Contemporary Literature

From the Hearth to the Open Road: A Feminist Study of Aging in Contemporary Literature

Synopsis

This literary critical book deals exclusively with contemporary fiction by women on the subject of aging. It discusses the emergence of a new fictional genre--the novel of ripening or Reifungsroman. The book contains an extensive bibliography of 20th-century popular periodical articles on aging (Canadian, American, and British), literary critical articles on aging in the fiction of Doris Lessing, Alice Adams, Paule Marshall, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, May Sarton, and Margaret Laurence, as well a general literary critical works on these authors, and some general (nonliterary) studies of aging, such as Simone de Beavoir's The Coming Age.

Excerpt

That Simone de Beauvoir, hailed by feminist theorist Toril Moi as "the greatest feminist theorist of our time" for her groundbreaking book on women's position in society, The Second Sex (92), also penned a pioneering philosophic, scientific, anthropological, and socially reformist work on aging and the elderly is an appropriate observation with which to begin this book. As a feminist committed to socialism, de Beauvoir joins other women and men "'who are fighting to change women's condition, in association with the class struggle, but independently of it as well'" (Moi 92); the aim of social change is at the heart of her feminist theorizing. Change is also her purpose in The Coming of Age as she examines the fate of the elderly in Western society, declaring that "the meaning or the lack of meaning that old age takes on in any given society puts that whole society to the test, since it is this that reveals the meaning or the lack of meaning of the entirety of the life leading to that old age" (de Beauvoir 18). She condemns as "morally atrocious" the too-early and too-painful advent of old age countenanced by Western society. She is convinced older people need to be treated like people, not like material or machines, discarded when no longer sufficiently productive to society (805-6). And de Beauvoir envisions a utopian society in which the negative concept of old age would all but vanish because each individual would participate in communal life and "be an active, useful citizen at every age" (806). Having described the grim plight of the elderly, she rejects . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.