Cover image for Twentieth-century American women's fiction : a critical introduction
Twentieth-century American women's fiction : a critical introduction
Reynolds, Guy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
ix, 253 pages ; 23 cm

Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
PS374.W6 R47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This wide-ranging introduction to American women writers and their work explores how they have established their identity. Guy Reynolds examines the key writers of the period, both classic and lesser-known authors, and places their works in successive cultural contexts, from the end of the Victorian era and suffrage through the rethinking of feminist politics in the 1960s to the present day. Novels are grouped into genres, and several recurring themes are explored, such as national identity and political engagement.

Author Notes

Guy Reynolds is Lecturer in English and American Literature at the University of Kent at Canterbury.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Grouping almost 30 women writers in thematic chapters that are chronologically arranged, Reynolds (Univ. of Kent, UK) intends a "hybrid" book for a hybrid audience--Europeans and Americans with different levels of familiarity with US literature. But though he provides clear summaries of trends and schools of theory and praiseworthy analyses of individual texts, the volume fails as an introduction. One cannot argue with his choice of writers, but three serious flaws mar his scholarship. First, curious lacunae appear in his discussion of previous scholarly work on some writers: his analysis of Toni Morrison's Beloved contains no reference to rememory; he omits key studies in discussing Alice James (Jean Strouse's Alice James, CH, Mar'81), Kate Chopin (the work of Emily Toth), and Zora Neale Hurston (recent feminist scholarship and Hurston's own autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road). Second, some of his summaries are dismissive, even sneering: Chopin's The Awakening is "in essence ... a laconic account of marital tiffs"; Charlotte Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper "expresses rebellion as a symbolic attack on home decoration." Finally, Reynolds uses Willa Cather as a touchstone on US women's fiction far too frequently, thus creating a misleading notion of Cather's stature. Too idiosyncratic to serve as an introduction; for this reason, not recommended for academic libraries. E. R. Baer; Gustavus Adolphus College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. viii
Acknowledgementsp. ix
Introduction: the Genealogy of American Women's Narrative, 1892-1995p. 1
1 'Sickbed Deathbed Birthbed': Therapy and Writing in the 1890sp. 11
2 Re-making the Home, 1909-33: Gertrude Stein, Edith Wharton, Mary Antinp. 38
3 Modernist Geographies: Space in the Fiction of Willa Cather, Djuna Barnes and Gertrude Steinp. 64
4 The Interwar Social Problem Novel: Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Jessie Fauset, Agnes Smedleyp. 88
5 'There are So Many Horrible Examples of Regional Writers, and the South is Loaded': Eudora Welty, Caroline Gordon, Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connorp. 114
6 Dysfunctional Realism: Ann Petry, Elizabeth Hardwick, Jean Stafford, Jane Bowlesp. 146
7 'What's Happening in America': Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag, Joyce Carol Oatesp. 168
8 Fictions for the Village: Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, Cynthia Ozickp. 195
Notesp. 219
Bibliographyp. 238
Indexp. 251