The Myth of the Heroine: The Female Bildungsroman in the Twentieth Century: Dorothy Richardson, Simone de Beauvoir, Doris Lessing, Christa Wolf

By Esther Kleinbord Labovitz | Go to book overview

South African, and German respectively. Similarities and a recurrent pattern appearing in each of the works have been arranged thematically, as follows: self-realization (including identity questions, self-discovery, and self-knowledge); sex roles (including male/female roles and role models); education, dramatizing how the heroine reads; inner and outer directedness (psychological, sexual, ideological, societal); religious crisis, where applicable; career; attitude toward marriage; philosophical questions (thoughts on life and death); and autobiographical elements. The foregoing themes are related to the heroine's personal quest which manifests itself either as a social or a spiritual quest.

With the male Bildungsroman thought to be disappearing in contemporary society, and no longer a viable genre for a pluralistic and fragmented society, where the concept of Bildung is being undermined and cannot be upheld in its former cultural context, the belated arrival of the female Bildungsroman invites comparison and contrast. Further, having located the female heroine in the Bildungsroman, one might understandably question whether an important contribution has been made to the tradition of the genre and to literature as a whole. A recent study suggests: "The fully realized and individualized self who caps the journey of the Bildungsroman may not represent the developmental goals of women, or of women characters."26 Here, I will propose through these four selected authors that the Bildungsroman is no less a viable structure for the female heroine by virtue of her different developmental process, but rather as the vehicle advocating fuller exploration of women's goals and expectations allows for a re-defining of the genre. This study will address itself to such questions and attempt to offer answers.


Notes
1
Jerome Hamilton Buckley, Season of Youth: The Bildungsroman from Dickens to Golding ( Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974), Preface, viii. Buckley uses these synonyms but understands that none of the substitutes "quite replaces the label

-8-

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The Myth of the Heroine: The Female Bildungsroman in the Twentieth Century: Dorothy Richardson, Simone de Beauvoir, Doris Lessing, Christa Wolf
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents iii
  • PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION v
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 8
  • 1 - Dorothy Richardson: Pilgrimage: Four Volumes1 11
  • Notes 66
  • 2 - Simone De Beauvoir: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter1 73
  • Notes 142
  • 3 - Doris Lessing: Children of Violence1, Five Volumes 145
  • Notes 198
  • 4 - Christa Wolf: 201
  • Notes 240
  • Conclusion 245
  • Notes 258
  • Appendix 259
  • Bibliography 265
  • Index 271
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