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A Literature of Their Own Revised and Expanded ed. Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691004761
ISBN-10: 0691004765
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Readers of this new, enlarged edition of the classic feminist study of British women novelists will find themselves delighted by Elaine Showalter's astute and acerbic critical intelligence. Showalter is one of the few scholars who can make her readers rush to their bookshelves to refute her point, or simply to experience again Jane Eyre, The Mill on the Floss, or the bitterly illuminating stories of Katherine Mansfield. Her chief innovation is to place the works of famous women writers beside those of the minor or forgotten, building a continuity of influence and inspiration as well as a more complete picture of the social conditions in which women's books have been produced. She has added a new introduction recounting, with justifiable pleasure, how daring and controversial her study seemed when it first appeared in 1977 (and how many enemies it made her). In an afterword, she touches on more recent developments in the women's novel in Britain, including the influence of the dazzling Angela Carter. --Regina Marler


"A Literature of Their Own places the women novelists everyone has heard of ... in a new setting, considering them in relation to their relatively unknown female contemporaries. The resulting shift of perspective generates fresh social and literary understanding."--Patricia Meyer Spacks, The New York Times Book Review

"Ought to be required reading for anyone who cares about women or the history of the novel. [This book] is a rare thing: a book of literary criticism that illuminates our lives."--Erica Jong, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"This book is absolutely and immediately essential reading.... It will remain for a very long time a book to refer to again and again for both information and ideas."--John Goode, The Times Higher Education Supplement

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Revised and Expanded ed. edition (December 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691004765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691004761
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Anyone familiar with literary criticism recognizes the name of Elaine Showalter Ph.D. Showalter is an emrita professor of Princeton University who is the most famous feminine literary critic. Her new book "A Jury of Her Peers" on female authors in the USA has been reviewed by me on Amazon.
Like that later work I find "A Literature of Their Own" to be outstanding. Showalter's title was influenced by Virginia Woolf's famous essay " A Room of Their Own" in which she argued that for women to be able to write fiction they needed their own income, a quiet room and a spirit of androgyny.
Showalter reports that in typical English Literature courses there are only a quartet of major female authors who are highlighted. These women are Jane Austen; the Brontes; George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. Showalter in this 1977 book (which developed out of her doctoral dissertation) aims to introduce modern readers to many of th worthy women authors who lived in England from the 1840s to such modern female artists as Angela Carter, Doris Lessing and Margaret Drabble.
Showalter shows how women had to face great odds to have their works published due to the Victorian belief in the inferiority of the female brain. Women were also restricted in their use of explicit language and sexual matters being regarded as "The Angel of the Household.
Women did gain ground in the publishing industry in the 1880-90s producing sensational fiction by such authors as Mary Ellen Braddon and also suffragate novels and periodical journalism.
This book is not the easiest read for a layperson new to female literature in Great Britain.
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Format: Paperback
During a heat wave you would think I'd be reading something light and "beachy" but no, I've been reading this serious critical look at British women novelists from Bronte to Lessing from a feminist point of view. This is a revised and expanded edition of her original book published in 1977 I believe.

Those early women novelists were admirable, strong women. With all the restrictions on their education and lifestyle, they still managed to write novels that are widely read even today. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and all the other beloved novels they wrote have much of value to say to we modern women with all our freedoms. Just think, they had little or no education, were only trained to catch a man, hopefully a rich one, and had no knowledge of the life of anyone other than people just like themselves. Most of us would go stark raving mad with all their confining rules. Their fathers and then husbands had total control over them, even over what they were allowed to read.

We get a slight taste of this kind of life watching series on Masterpiece Theater, but the girls in those families are sly enough to find ways around the men in their lives. I doubt most women in 19th century English upper classes could get away with such things.

Showalter, a Princeton professor, wrote this book as a result of an academic study of all the women novelists in England and this is a book that could easily be used as a textbook. That is not to say that it is dry and boring, anything but. I found it very readable and fascinating, enough so to read it through a week of terrible heat and humidity. Now I'm going on to something very light, but this book told me not only about the writing these women did, but nearly every aspect of their lives.
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Format: Paperback
I am a student from Taiwan. When I read the article- "Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness" from Showalter,Elaine,I really like it and want to read more about her's book. But in Taiwan,I could n't got more news about this. I was so excite to find this 'amazon' shop and hope can get more news about Feminist criticisms. Finally, thank you very much that provided for me.
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