The Politics of the Feminist Novel

By Judi M. Roller | Go to book overview

2

Authority and Autobiography

For centuries critics have advanced descriptions of women's writings. Ellen Moers describes the most frequently presented characterization as one using such adjectives as "the spontaneous, the instinctive, the natural, the informal, the anti-classical, and the artless." 1 Whether or not these adjectives are indeed applicable to most women's writings is perhaps not as important as what this description implies about the speaker's attitude toward the subject. Such adjectives, attached to Romantic literature, indicate praise or at least neutrality. When they are applied to women's literature in general, they are often intended as, and are viewed as, negative criticism. An investigation of how and how well the stylistic approaches of an author work is surely much more valuable to the reader and critic than an attack upon or a paeon to the approaches themselves. An understanding of the possible usefulness of certain stylistic devices must precede an evaluation of group or individual successes or failures in using them. In other words, the correlation between a writer's choice of style and her subject, the mutual fitness of the two, is more important than the fact of the style itself.

The authorial stance adopted by women writers is one aspect of their writing that has received considerable criticism. For

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The Politics of the Feminist Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - The Awakening 3
  • Notes 28
  • 2 - Authority and Autobiography 33
  • Notes 62
  • 3 - Fragmentation Versus Unity: The Shattered Novel 67
  • Notes 96
  • 4 - The Endings 101
  • Notes 132
  • 5 - Portrayals of Slavery and Freedom 137
  • Notes 175
  • 6 - Conclusion 181
  • Notes 187
  • Appendix - Critical Literature on the Political Novel 189
  • Notes 193
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 206
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