The Politics of the Feminist Novel

By Judi M. Roller | Go to book overview

Appendix: Critical Literature
on the Political Novel

The words "politics" and "feminist" are capable of arousing an almost endless number of definitions and interpretations. They are also capable of arousing highly emotional responses. As a result, most authors of criticism on the political novel have tried to be very specific about what they think it is. Reviewing and examining this criticism can help to clarify what one means when speaking of the political and feminist novel. The variety of interpretations is itself instructive. Joseph Blotner describes the political novel in terms of its effect on the reader. He views the novel as a political instrument if it attempts to gain the reader's support for a cause, arouses his or her distaste for a course of action, or produces a re-evaluation of previously accepted political beliefs. 1 Like all definitions based on the reader's response, this one has some limits to its usefulness. One can only surmise how most readers might respond to a novel, and, consequently, one can only arbitrarily decide whether or not a novel is political. This definition has the further disadvantage of limiting political novels to those having quantitative, utilitarian functions and effects.

Another critic, Gordon Milne, classifies the American political novel as a genre beginning in the early nineteenth century and marked by "the presence of political ideas and of the political milieu."2 This definition is quite broad, so Milne qualifies it by adding that he "generally steers clear of the economic, social protest, proletarian, and utopian ideas."3 He describes the nineteenth-century political novel as being relatively free of ideological discussion, focusing instead on the polit-

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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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