Sayre Street Books offers the world's greatest literature in easy to navigate, beautifully designed digital editions.
A lyrical, philosophical, and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limitations of vision and love, as refracted through the color blue. With Bluets, Maggie Nelson has entered the pantheon of brilliant lyric essayists.
Maggie Nelson is the author of numerous books of poetry and nonfiction, including Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007) and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, 2007). She lives in Los Angeles and teaches at the California Institute of the Arts.
Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.
In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.
From the Hardcover edition.
—Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon
Southland brings us a fascinating story of race, love, murder and history, against the backdrop of an ever-changing Los Angeles. A young Japanese-American woman, Jackie Ishida, is in her last semester of law school when her grandfather, Frank Sakai, dies unexpectedly. While trying to fulfill a request from his will, Jackie discovers that four African-American boys were killed in the store Frank owned during the Watts Riots of 1965. Along with James Lanier, a cousin of one of the victims, Jackie tries to piece together the story of the boys’ deaths. In the process, she unearths the long-held secrets of her family’s history.
Southland depicts a young woman in the process of learning that her own history has bestowed upon her a deep obligation to be engaged in the larger world. And in Frank Sakai and his African-American friends, it presents characters who find significant common ground in their struggles, but who also engage each other across grounds—historical and cultural—that are still very much in dispute.
Moving in and out of the past—from the internment camps of World War II, to the barley fields of the Crenshaw District in the 1930s, to the streets of Watts in the 1960s, to the night spots and garment factories of the 1990s—Southland weaves a tale of Los Angeles in all of its faces and forms.
Nina Revoyr is the author of The Necessary Hunger ("Irresistible."—Time Magazine). She was born in Japan, raised in Tokyo and Los Angeles, and is of Japanese and Polish-American descent. She lives and works in Los -Angeles.
In 2004, with the Lees’ blessing, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next eighteen months there, sharing coffee at McDonalds and trips to the Laundromat with Nelle, feeding the ducks and going out for catfish supper with the sisters, and exploring all over lower Alabama with the Lees’ inner circle of friends.
Nelle shared her love of history, literature, and the Southern way of life with Mills, as well as her keen sense of how journalism should be practiced. As the sisters decided to let Mills tell their story, Nelle helped make sure she was getting the story—and the South—right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family.
The Mockingbird Next Door is the story of Mills’s friendship with the Lee sisters. It is a testament to the great intelligence, sharp wit, and tremendous storytelling power of these two women, especially that of Nelle.
Mills was given a rare opportunity to know Nelle Harper Lee, to be part of the Lees’ life in Alabama, and to hear them reflect on their upbringing, their corner of the Deep South, how To Kill a Mockingbird affected their lives, and why Nelle Harper Lee chose to never write another novel.
From the Hardcover edition.
Boston blueblood Charlotte Vale has led an unhappy, sheltered life. Dowdy, repressed, and pushing forty, Charlotte finds salvation in the unlikely form of a nervous breakdown, placing her at a sanitarium, where she undergoes treatment to rebuild her ravaged self-esteem and uncover her true intelligence and charm.
Femmes Fatales restores to print the best of women’s writing in the classic pulp genres of the mid-20th century. From mystery to hard-boiled noir to taboo lesbian romance, these rediscovered queens of pulp offer subversive perspectives on a turbulent era. Enjoy the series: Bedelia; Bunny Lake Is Missing; By Cecile; The G-String Murders; The Girls in 3-B; Laura; The Man Who Loved His Wife; Mother Finds a Body; Now, Voyager; Return to Lesbos; Skyscraper; Stranger on Lesbos; Stella Dallas; Women's Barracks.
In this lively, absorbing biography, Marion Meade illuminates both the charm and the dark side of Dorothy Parker, exploring her days of wicked wittiness at the Algonquin Round Table with the likes of Robert Benchley, George Kaufman, and Harold Ross, and in Hollywood with S. J. Perelman, William Faulkner, and Lillian Hellman. At the dazzling center of it all, Meade gives us the flamboyant, self-destructive, and brilliant Dorothy Parker.
This edition features a new afterword by Marion Meade.
Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, 'essential' notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category 'woman' and continues in this vein with examinations of 'the masculine' and 'the feminine'. Best known however, but also most often misinterpreted, is Butler's concept of gender as a reiterated social performance rather than the expression of a prior reality.
Thrilling and provocative, few other academic works have roused passions to the same extent.
A work of creative brilliance may seem like magic—its source a mystery, its impact unexpectedly stirring. How does an artist accomplish such an achievement, connecting deeply with an audience never met? In this groundbreaking book, one of our culture’s beloved artists offers a detailed account of her own creative process, inspirations, and unexpected connections.
Patti Smith first presents an original and beautifully crafted tale of obsession—a young skater who lives for her art, a possessive collector who ruthlessly seeks his prize, a relationship forged of need both craven and exalted. She then takes us on a second journey, exploring the sources of her story. We travel through the South of France to Camus’s house, and visit the garden of the great publisher Gallimard where the ghosts of Mishima, Nabokov, and Genet mingle. Smith tracks down Simone Weil’s grave in a lonely cemetery, hours from London, and winds through the nameless Paris streets of Patrick Modiano’s novels. Whether writing in a café or a train, Smith generously opens her notebooks and lets us glimpse the alchemy of her art and craft in this arresting and original book on writing.
The Why I Write series is based on the Windham-Campbell Lectures, delivered annually to commemorate the awarding of the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes at Yale University.
In this volume, Carl Thompson:introduces the genre, outlining competing definitions and key debates provides a broad historical survey from the medieval period to the present day explores the autobiographical dimensions of the form looks at both men and women’s travel writing, surveying a range of canonical and more marginal works, drawn from both the colonial and postcolonial era utilises both British and American travelogues to consider the genre's role in shaping the history of both nations.
Concise and practical, Travel Writing is the ideal introduction for those new to the subject, as well as a crucial overview of current debates in the field.
Doyle brings together authors often separated by nation, race, and period, including Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, Olaudah Equiano, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Wilson, Pauline Hopkins, George Eliot, and Nella Larsen. In so doing, she reassesses the strategies of early women novelists, reinterprets the significance of rape and incest in the novel, and measures the power of race in the modern English-language imagination.
To that end, Glenn locates women's contributions to and participation in the rhetorical tradition and writes them into an expanded, inclusive tradition. She regenders the tradition by designating those terms of identity that have promoted and supported men's control of public, persuasive discourse -- the culturally constructed social relations between, the appropriate roles for, and the subjective identities of women and men.
Glenn is the first scholar to contextualize, analyze, and follow the migration of women's rhetorical accomplishments systematically. To locate these women, she follows the migration of the Western intellectual tradition from its inception in classical antiquity and its confrontation with and ultimate appropriation by evangelical Christianity to its force in the medieval Church and in Tudor arts and politics.
Glenn sets the scope of her study from antiquity to the Renaissance for several reasons, not the least of which is that the Enlightenment saw the end of classical rhetoric as the dominant and most influential system of education and communication. Equally important, the Enlightenment brought about the demise of the one-sex model of humanity that centered on the telos of perfect maleness --with women and children being perceived as undeveloped men.
Glenn expands the history of rhetoric by including the contributions of women. She is not writing a compensatory history or a history of rhetoric by women; she is integrating the rhetorical accomplishments of women into the context of the male-dominated and male-documented rhetorical tradition and, in the process, enriching that tradition.
In her introductory essay, "Reading Rosario Castellanos: Contexts, Voices, and Signs," Maureen Ahern presents the first comprehensive study of Castellanos' work as a sign or signifying system. This approach through contemporary semiotic theory unites literary criticism and translation as an integral semiotic process. Ahern reveals how Castellanos integrated women's images, bodies, voices, and texts to feminize her discourse and create a plurality of new signs/messages about women in Mexico. Describing this process in The Eternal Feminine, Castellanos observes, "...it's not good enough to imitate the models proposed for us that are answers to circumstances other than our own. It isn't even enough to discover who we are. We have to invent ourselves."
“Didion has the instincts of an exceptional reporter and the focus of a historian . . . a novelist’s appreciation of the surreal.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
Whether she’s writing about civil war in Central America, political scurrility in Washington, or the tightl -braided myths and realities of her native California, Joan Didion expresses an unblinking vision of the truth.
Vintage Didion includes three chapters from Miami; an excerpt from Salvador; and three separate essays from After Henry that cover topics from Ronald Reagan to the Central Park jogger case. Also included is “Clinton Agonistes” from Political Fictions, and “Fixed Opinions, or the Hinge of History,” a scathing analysis of the ongoing war on terror.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In her introduction, Miriyam Glazer vividly reconstructs the diversities, tensions, and complexity of current Israeli literature, and the book reflects the multiculturality of modern-day Israel by including stories and poems originally written in Arabic, Russian, Hebrew, and English. Brief biographical and critical introductions are provided for each writer, and the book features specially commissioned and new translations of twenty stories and seventy-five poems, many available here for the first time in English.
- Representation of women's roles, gender, sexuality and power
- Language, style and form
- Dystopias and genre fictions
- Power, control and religious fundamentalism.
Combining helpful guidance on reading Atwood's text with overviews of significant stylistic and thematic issues and an introduction to criticism, this is an ideal companion to reading and studying A Handmaid's Tale.
Charlotte Brontë famously lived her entire life in an isolated parsonage on a remote English moor with a demanding father and siblings whose astonishing childhood creativity was a closely held secret. The genius of Claire Harman’s biography is that it transcends these melancholy facts to reveal a woman for whom duty and piety gave way to quiet rebellion and fierce ambition.
Drawing on letters unavailable to previous biographers, Harman depicts Charlotte’s inner life with absorbing, almost novelistic intensity. She seizes upon a moment in Charlotte’s adolescence that ignited her determination to reject poverty and obscurity: While working at a girls’ school in Brussels, Charlotte fell in love with her married professor, Constantin Heger, a man who treated her as “nothing special to him at all.” She channeled her torment into her first attempts at a novel and resolved to bring it to the world's attention.
Charlotte helped power her sisters’ work to publication, too. But Emily’s Wuthering Heights was eclipsed by Jane Eyre, which set London abuzz with speculation: Who was this fiery author demanding love and justice for her plain and insignificant heroine? Charlotte Brontë’s blazingly intelligent women brimming with hidden passions would transform English literature. And she savored her literary success even as a heartrending series of personal losses followed.
Charlotte Brontë is a groundbreaking view of the beloved writer as a young woman ahead of her time. Shaped by Charlotte’s lifelong struggle to claim love and art for herself, Harman’s richly insightful biography offers readers many of the pleasures of Brontë’s own work.
From the Hardcover edition.
Ann Romines interweaves personal observation with scholarly analysis to address these questions. Writing from a feminist perspective and drawing on resources of gender studies, cultural studies, and new historicist reading, she examines both the content of the novels and the process of their creation. She explores the relationship between mother and daughter working as collaborative authors and calls into question our assumptions about plot, juvenile fiction, and constructions of gender on the nineteenth-century frontier and in the Depression years when the Little House books were written.
This is a book that will appeal both to scholars and to general readers who might welcome an engaging and accessible companion volume to the Little House novels.
Sequel to the enormously popular Native Tongue, The Judas Rose continues Elgin's gripping vision of a frightening, male-dominated world where the women of Earth are virtually enslaved. Once again, this group of women—and the nonviolent yet transformative power of language—is called upon to challenge Earth's violent, patriarchal order. Their revolutionary tool is Laadan—a secret women's language created to free them from men's control and make resistance possible for all women.
In The Judas Rose, the time has come to take Laadan from underground and spread its revolutionary power to women everywhere—in part, through a group of nuns inside the Roman Catholic Church. But when a handful of horrified priests uncover the women's sabotage they move to stamp it out with an undercover female agent of their own.
from "Our Dust"
You didn’t know my weariness, error, incapacity,
I was the poet
of shadow work and towns with quarter-inch
phone books, of failed
roadside zoos. The poet of yard eggs and
jobs at the weapons plant and the Maybelline
factory on the penitentiary road.
"Wright has found a way to wed fragments of an iconic America to a luminously strange idiom, eerie as a tin whistle."—The New Yorker
"Wright shrinks back from nothing."—Voice Literary Supplement
"C.D. Wright is a devastating visionary. She writes in light. She sets language on fire."—American Letters
C.D. Wright has published nine collections of poetry and earned many awards, including the Lannan Literary Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She teaches at Brown University and in 1994 was named State Poet of Rhode Island. With her husband, Forrest Gander, she edits Lost Roads Publishers.
Also included are contemporary works by writers such as Alice Walker and Margaret Atwood that are being incorporated into the curriculum, as well as those advancing a more global view, such as Sandra Cisneros' "House on Mango Street" and Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart." The essays are expertly written in an accessible language that will help students gain greater awareness of gender-related themes. Suggestions for classroom discussions--with selected works for further study--are incorporated into the entries. The volume is organized alphabetically by title and includes both author and subject indexes. An appendix of gender-related themes further enhances this volume's usefulness for curriculum applications and student research projects.
In 1932, Ruth Gruber earned her PhD—the youngest person ever to do so—with a stunning doctoral dissertation on Virginia Woolf. Published in 1935, the paper was the first-ever feminist critique of Woolf’s work and inspired a series of correspondences between the two writers. It also led to Gruber’s eventual meeting with Woolf, which she recounted six decades later in Virginia Woolf: The Will to Create as a Woman. Described by Gruber as “the odyssey of how I met Virginia Woolf, and how her life and work became intertwined with my life,” Virginia Woolf is a clear and insightful portrait of one of modern literature’s most innovative authors, written by one of America’s most remarkable journalists.
A National Poetry Series winner, chosen by Edward Sanders.
“What power. Smith’s poetry is all poetry. And visceral. Her poems get under the skin of their subjects. Their passion and empathy, their real worldliness, are blockbuster.”—Marvin Bell
“I was weeping for the beauty of poetry when I reached the end of the final poem.”—Edward Sanders, National Poetry Series judge
From Lollapalooza to Carnegie Hall, Patricia Smith has taken the stage as this nation’s premier performance poet. Featured in the film Slamnation and on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam, Smith is back with her first book in over a decade—a National Poetry Series winner weaving passionate, bluesy narratives into an empowering, finely tuned cele-bration of poetry’s liberating power.
At a time when speculative fiction seems less and less far-fetched, Margaret Atwood lends her distinctive voice and singular point of view to the genre in a series of essays that brilliantly illuminates the essential truths about the modern world. This is an exploration of her relationship with the literary form we have come to know as "science fiction,” a relationship that has been lifelong, stretching from her days as a child reader in the 1940s, through her time as a graduate student at Harvard, where she worked on the Victorian ancestor of the form, and continuing as a writer and reviewer. This book brings together her three heretofore unpublished Ellmann Lectures from 2010: "Flying Rabbits," which begins with Atwood's early rabbit superhero creations, and goes on to speculate about masks, capes, weakling alter egos, and Things with Wings; "Burning Bushes," which follows her into Victorian otherlands and beyond; and "Dire Cartographies," which investigates Utopias and Dystopias. In Other Worlds also includes some of Atwood's key reviews and thoughts about the form. Among those writers discussed are Marge Piercy, Rider Haggard, Ursula Le Guin, Ishiguro, Bryher, Huxley, and Jonathan Swift. She elucidates the differences (as she sees them) between "science fiction" proper, and "speculative fiction," as well as between "sword and sorcery/fantasy" and "slipstream fiction." For all readers who have loved The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood, In Other Worlds is a must.
Note: The electronic version of this title contains over thirty additional, illuminating eBook-exclusive illustrations by the author.
Through Deppman's original analysis, readers come to see how Dickinson's mind and poetry were informed by two strong but opposing philosophical vocabularies: on the one hand, the Lockean materialism and Scottish Common Sense that dominated her schoolbooks in logic and mental philosophy -- Reid, Hedge, Watts, Stewart, Brown, and Upham -- and on the other, the neo-Kantian modes of apprehending the supersensible that circulated throughout German idealism and Transcendentalism.
Blending close readings with philosophical and historical approaches, Deppman affirms Dickinson's place in the history of ideas and brings her to the center of postmodern conversations initiated by Jean-François Lyotard, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida, Richard Rorty, and Gianni Vattimo. Trying her out in various postmodern roles -- the Nietzschean accomplished nihilist, the Nancian finite thinker, the Vattimian weak thinker, and the Rortian liberal ironist -- Deppman adds to the traditional expressive functions of her poetry a valuable, timely, and interpretable layer of philosophical inquiry. Dickinson, it turns out, is an ideal companion for anybody trying to think in the contemporary conditions that Vattimo characterizes as the "weakened experience of truth."
In a Closet Hidden traces Freeman's evolution as a writer, showing how her own inner conflicts repeatedly found expression in her art. As Glasser demonstrates, Freeman's work examined the competing claims of creativity and convention, self-fulfillment and self-sacrifice, spinsterhood and marriage, lesbianism and heterosexuality.
The essays in this collection grapple with a wide range of issues important to the female sleuth – the most important, perhaps, being the oft-heard challenge to her suitability for the job. Not surprisingly, gender issues are the main focus of all the essays; indeed, in detective novels with a woman protagonist, these issues are often right at the surface.
Some of the papers see the female sleuth as an important force in popular fiction, but many also challenge the notion that the woman detective is a positive model for feminists. They argue that fictional female sleuths have lost the `otherness' that a feminine approach to the genre should encourage. Collectively, the essays also reveal the differences between British and American perspectives on the woman detective.
Conjoining the classical and the modern with a unified theme reveals an important continuum in female authorship-a historical approach often ignored by scholars. The essays devoted to the literature of the classical period discuss canonical texts in a new light, offering important feminist readings that challenge existing scholarship, while those dedicated to modern writers introduce readers to little-known texts with translations and readings that are engaging and original.
Contributors: Tomoko Aoyama, Sonja Arntzen, Janice Brown, Rebecca L. Copeland, Midori McKeon, Eileen Mikals-Adachi, Joshua S. Mostow, Sharalyn Orbaugh, Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, Edith Sarra, Atsuko Sasaki, Ann Sherif.
Her route takes her through the theorization of self offered by Freud and Lacan and on to the concept of subjectivity articulated by Kleinian and later object-relations psychoanalysts. She argues that much women’s writing has been inappropriately placed and interpreted within a predominantly formalist-orientated aesthetic and a post-Freudian/liberal, individualist conceptualization of subjectivity and artistic expression. This tendency has been intensified in discussions of postmodernism, and a new feminist aesthetic is thus badly needed.
In the second part of the book Patricia Waugh analyses the work of six ‘traditional’ and six ‘experimental’ writers, challenging the restrictive definitions of ‘realist’, ‘modernist’, ‘postmodernist’ in the light of the theoretical position developed in part one. Authors covered include: Woolf (viewed as a postmodernist ‘precursor’ rather than a ‘high’ modernist), Drabble, Tyler, Plath, Brookner, Paley, Lessing, Weldon, Atwood, Walker, Spark, Russ, and Piercy.
Fashioning Sapphism locates the novelist Radclyffe Hall and other prominent lesbians—including the pioneer in women's policing, Mary Allen, the artist Gluck, and the writer Bryher—within English modernity through the multiple sites of law, sexology, fashion, and literary and visual representation, thus tracing the emergence of a modern English lesbian subculture in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Drawing on extensive new archival research, the book interrogates anew a range of myths long accepted without question (and still in circulation) concerning, to cite only a few, the extent of homophobia in the 1920s, the strategic deployment of sexology against sexual minorities, and the rigidity of certain cultural codes to denote lesbianism in public culture.
The volume begins with a new translation of the 1945 play "The Useless Mouths," written in Paris during the Nazi occupation. Other pieces were discovered after Beauvoir's death in 1986, such as the 1965 short novel Misunderstanding in Moscow, involving an elderly French couple who confront their fears of aging. Two additional previously unknown texts include the fragmentary "Notes for a Novel," which contains the seed of what she later would call "the problem of the Other," and a lecture on postwar French theater titled "Existential Theater." The collection notably includes the eagerly awaited translation of Beauvoir's contribution to a 1965 debate among Jean-Paul Sartre and other French writers and intellectuals, "What Can Literature Do?"
Prefaces to well-known works such as Bluebeard and Other Fairy Tales,La Bâtarde, and James Joyce in Paris: His Final Years are also available in English for the first time, alongside essays and other short articles. A landmark contribution to Beauvoir studies and French literary studies, the volume includes informative and engaging introductory essays by prominent and rising scholars.
Contributors are Meryl Altman, Elizabeth Fallaize, Alison S. Fell, Sarah Gendron, Dennis A. Gilbert, Laura Hengehold, Eleanore Holveck, Terry Keefe, J. Debbie Mann, Frederick M. Morrison, Catherine Naji, Justine Sarrot, Liz Stanley, Ursula Tidd, and Veronique Zaytzeff.
Despite her family's diligence in destroying her papers, almost 500 of Smith's letters survived in 22 libraries, archives, and private collections. The present edition makes available most of these never-before-published letters to publishers, patrons, solicitors, relatives, and friends. As this volume was going to press, the Petworth House archives turned up 56 additional lost letters not seen in at least 100 years. Most are from Smith's early career, along with two letters to her troublesome husband, Benjamin. The archives also preserved 50 letters by Benjamin, the only ones by him known to have survived. Two letters from Benjamin to Charlotte are reprinted in full, and generous excerpts from the rest are included in footnotes, bringing a shadowy figure to life.
Written for the very audience it portrays, this novel introduces the heroine, Maria Villiers, to London's "gentle" society and its glittering pastimes. Brooke drew upon the English courtship novel in the tradition of Eliza Haywood, Henry Fielding, and Frances Burney for her novel's overarching plot structure. But instead of concentrating on Maria's romantic adventures, she experiments with unusual treatments of subplots and unconventional characters.
The most interesting aspect of her story is the development of Maria's ambition to win fame and fortune as a writer; it is one of the few portraits of a woman with literary ambitions by an early woman writer. Brooke's wry narrative voice foreshadows that of Jane Austen.
The editors' introduction places The Excursion firmly in the tradition of the English novel, provides a fresh biography of Brooke, and brings together the most important eighteenth- and twentieth-century criticism of Brooke's work.
The second volume in the series Eighteenth-Century Novels by Women, The Excursion contributes to our understanding of the development of the novel and offers a lively view of women's position in eighteenth-century English society.
After the birth of her first child in 2006, Turkish writer Elif Shafek suffered from postpartum depression that triggered a profound personal crisis. Infused with guilt, anxiety, and bewilderment about whether she could ever be a good mother, Shafak stopped writing and lost her faith in words altogether. In this elegantly written memoir, she retraces her journey from free-spirited, nomadic artist to dedicated by emotionally wrought mother. Identifying a constantly bickering harem of women who live inside of her, each with her own characteristics-the cynical intellectual, the goal-oriented go-getter, the practical-rational, the spiritual, the maternal, and the lustful-she craves harmony, or at least a unifying identity. As she intersperses her own experience with the lives of prominent authors such as Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Alice Walker, Ayn Rand, and Zelda Fitzgerald, Shafak looks for a solution to the inherent conflict between artistic creation and responsible parenting.
With searing emotional honesty and an incisive examination of cultural mores within patriarchal societies, Shafak has rendered an important work about literature, motherhood, and spiritual well-being.
Although women's works were generally meant only to circulate among women, these creative expressions have caught the attention of literary and artistic connoisseurs. By bringing them to light, the book seeks to demonstrate how Korean women have tried to give their lives meaning over the ages through their very diverse, yet common artistic responses to the details and drama of everyday life in Confucian Korea. The stories of these women and their work give us glimpses of their personal views on culture, aesthetics, history, society, politics, morality, and more.
Along the way, the award-winning memoirist brings us face-to-face with herself as an inner-city girl--trying to imagine a horizon beyond poverty, fearful of her fertility and the limiting arc of teenage pregnancy. Livingston looks at the lives of those she's known: friends who've gotten themselves into "trouble" and disappeared never to be heard from again, girls who tell their school counselor small lies out of necessity and pain, and a mother whose fruitfulness seems, at times, biblical. Livingston interacts with figures such as Susan B. Anthony, the Virgin Mary, and Ally McBeal to mine the terrain of her own femininity, fertility, and longing.
Queen of the Fall is a dazzling meditation on loss, possibility, and, ultimately, what it means to be human.
Watch a book trailer
In addition to looking closely at major works of fiction, "Reading Joan Didion" also focuses on Didion the essayist, critic, and founding member of the New Journalism Movement, which uses fiction-like narrative techniques to go deeper into subjects that traditional objective reporting allows. Also covered is the rich screenwriting partnership of Didion and husband John Gregory Dunne, and the overwhelming late-career success of "The Year of Magical Thinking," written in the aftermath of Dunne's shocking death and completed just before the author's daughter also passed away unexpectedly."
Feminist writers such as Mary Gordon and Alice Walker, to name only two, felt obligated to subvert literary misrepresentations of females as dimensionless, to refute preconceptions of objectified characters, and, of paramount importance, to create memorable women full of complexity and character. They wanted to create a subjective reality for their protagonists. And they succeeded admirably.
But along the road to subjectivity, that vital woman, empowered with anger, with ruthless survival instincts -- the bitch -- was banished from the pages of feminist fiction. The village gossips, calculating gold diggers, merciless backstabbers, sinful sirens, evil stepmothers, deadly daughters, twisted sisters, hags, bags, and crones -- all had vanished from the fiction written by women. Ubiquitous in other forms of media, the bitch was noticeably absent from the feminist literary canon.
Aguiar, however, points to indications in contemporary culture that the season of the bitch is fast approaching. Contemporary feminist writers and theorists are making substantial reevaluations of the archetypal bitch. Focusing on the traits and the types of guises usually associated with this vital character, Aguiar examines over one hundred and thirty examples of the bitch as rendered in a wide range of literature. She also analyzes "new" versions of thischaracter created by contemporary feminist authors and concludes that these new versions present a revised archetype: characters who are more complete, possessed of motivations, and strongly individual. Among the characters she discusses are Zenia in Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, Ruth Patchett in Fay Weldon's The Life and Loves of a She Devil, Sula in Toni Morrison's Sula, and Ginny in Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres.
Until the early 1980s, the literary category of women's literature (joryu bungaku) segregated most writing by modern Japanese women from the literary canon. Women's literature was viewed as a sentimental and impressionistic literary style that was popular but was critically disparaged.
A close scrutiny of Hayashi Fumiko's work--in particular the two pieces masterfully translated here, the immensely popular novel Horoki (Diary of a Vagabond) and Suisen (Narcissus)--shows the inadequacies of categorizing her writing as women's literature. Its originality and power are rooted in the clarity and immediacy with which Hayashi is able to convey the humanity of those occupying the underside of Japanese society, especially women.
Offering a new perspective on the oppositional nature of Latina writers, Sandoval emphasizes the ways in which national literatures have privileged male authors, whose viewpoint is generally distinct from that of women—a point of departure rarely acknowledged in postcolonial theory. Applying her observations to the disciplinary, historical, and spatial facets of literary production, Sandoval interrogates the boundaries of the Latina experience. Building on the dialogues begun with such works as Sonia Saldivar-Hull's Feminism on the Border and Ellen McCracken's New Latina Narrative, this is a concise yet ambitious comparative approach to the historical and cultural connections (as well as disparities) found in Chicana and Mexicana literature.
Beginning with Sappho in the seventh century B.C. and ending with Hypatia and Egeria in the fifth century A.D., Jane McIntosh Snyder listens carefully to the major women writers of classical Greece and Rome, piecing together the surviving fragments of their works into a coherent analysis that places them in their literary, historical, and intellectual contexts.
While relying heavily on modern classical scholarship, Snyder refutes some of the arguments that implicitly deny the power of women’s written words—the idea that women’s experience is narrow or trivial and therefore automatically inferior as subject matter for literature, the notion that intensity in a woman is a sign of neurotic imbalance, and the assumption that women’s work should be judged according to some externally imposed standard.
The author studies the available fragments of Sappho, ranging from poems on mythological themes to traditional wedding songs and love poems, and demonstrates her considerable influence on Western thought and literature.
An overview of all of the authors Snyder discusses shows that ancient women writers focused on such things as emotions, lovers, friendship, folk motifs, various aspects of daily living, children, and pets, in distinct contrast to their male contemporaries’ concern with wars and politics.
Straightforwardness and simplicity are common characteristics of the writers Snyder examines. These women did not display allusion, indirection, punning and elaborate rhetorical figures to the extent that many male writers of the ancient world did.
Working with the sparse records available, Snyder strives to place these female writers in their proper place in our heritage.
Akiko's later poetry has now begun to win long-overdue recognition, but in terms of literary history the impact of Midaregami (Tangled Hair, 1901), her first book, still overshadows everything else she wrote, for it brought individualism to traditional tanka poetry with a tempestuous force and passion found in no other work of the period. Embracing the Firebird traces Akiko's emotional and artistic development up to the publication of this seminal work, which became a classic of modern Japanese poetry and marked the starting point of Akiko's forty-year-long career as a writer. It then examines Tangled Hair itself, the characteristics that make it a unified work of art, and its originality.
The study throughout includes Janine Beichman's elegant translations of poems by Yosano Akiko (both those included in Tangled Hair and those not), as well as poems by contemporaries such as Yosano Tekkan, Yamakawa Tomiko, and others.
It is no accident for Quilligan that the first printed work of Elizabeth I was a translation done at age eleven of a poem by Marguerite de Navarre, in which the notion of "holy" incest is the prevailing trope. Nor is it coincidental that Mary Wroth, author of the first sonnet cycle and prose romance by a woman printed in English, described in these an endogamous, if not legally incestuous, illegitimate relationship with her first cousin. Sir Philip Sidney and his sister, the Countess of Pembroke, translated the psalms together, and after his death she finished his work by revising it for publication; the two were the subject of rumors of incest. Isabella Whitney cast one of her most important long poems as a fictive legacy to her brother, arguably because such a relationship resonated with the power of endogamous female agency. Elizabeth Carey's closet drama about Mariam, the wife of Herod, spends important energy on the tie between sister and brother. Quilligan also reads male-authored meditations on the relationship between incest and female agency and sees a far different Cordelia, Britomart, and Eve from what traditional scholarship has heretofore envisioned.
Incest and Agency in Elizabeth's England makes a signal contribution to the conversation about female agency in the early modern period. While contemporary anthropological theory deeply informs her understanding of why some Renaissance women writers wrote as they did, Quilligan offers an important corrective to modern theorizing that is grounded in the historical texts themselves.