- Paperback: 296 pages
- Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (October 28, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080784599X
- ISBN-13: 978-0807845998
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.7 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,881,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ambiguous Discourse: Feminist Narratology and British Women Writers Paperback – October 28, 1996
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"An important and original collection, this book clarifies the range of reading strategies that feminist narratology encompasses.
Margaret Homans, Yale University"
An important and original collection, this book clarifies the range of reading strategies that feminist narratology encompasses.
Margaret Homans, Yale University
An important and original collection, this book clarifies the range of reading strategies that feminist narratology encompasses, and it demonstrates, often with brilliance, the richness and variety of the literary studies that these approaches can produce.--Margaret Homans, Yale University
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In her introduction, editor Kathy Mezei attempts to define this rather problematic term, "feminist narratology." She relies on Robyn Warhol's definition as "the study of narrative structures and strategies in the context of cultural construction of gender." The problem women writers had in the 18th and 19th centuries (texts range from Jane Austen to Virginia Woolf) was that there were no sentences or paradigms readily available for them to use. Writing was male dominated, and in relating a narrative, alternative strategies were ingeniously developed by these female authors. For example, Jane Austen relies on irony and the "gaze" while Woolf relys on the decentered and peripheral narrator.
Essentially, there are two differing schools of thought concerning the critical application of feminist narratology to texts. Feminist narratology is a fairly recent hybrid construction; an alliance of feminism and narratolgy. Susan Lanser (1986)takes a more flexible approach in which she examines the role of gender (feminist criticism) in and through the construction of narrative theory. On the other side, Nelli Diengott focuses more on the scientific application of this type of criticism within a narrative system, strictly using these narratological terms to explore feminist texts and the way in which they function, thereby highlighting structure as opposed to feminist interpretation. The debate continues, and the collection of essays in this book range unhampered on both sides.
A number of women's texts are treated in this collection, and include works by Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Mina Loy, Anita Brookner, and Angela Carter. One of the best essays which follows a strict narratological interpretation and close usage of terms is Robyn Warhol's essay on Austen's _Persuasion_. In this essay, Warhol attributes the heroine, Anne Elliot, with power beyond that of the traditionally masculine, held either by male narrators or characters. As a focalizer (one through whom perspective becomes filtered), Anne Elliot is empowered with the "gaze" or "look" that allows her to operate extradiegetically and intradiagetically (ouside and inside of the story)with the power to "read" bodies which in turn translates the perspective of other characters. The power of this look is gendered as specifically feminine, and is crucial to understanding Austen's textual subversion of masculinity. Warhol makes a solid argument that interprets Austen through a strict feminist narratological lens.
A number of other essays focus on the different narrative strategies that Virginia Woolf uses in her works, such as _Jacob's Room_, _Mrs. Dalloway_, _The Voyage Out_, and _A Room of One's Own_. Woolf's texts offer fertile ground for feminist narratological interpretations, though most scholars here take liberties in interpretations more along the lines of Lanser.
If you are interested in reading or writing through the theoretical lens of feminist narratology, this book is a must.