The Madwoman in the Attic : The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination Paperback
An analysis of Victorial women writers, this pathbreaking book of feminist literary criticism is now reissued with a substantial new introduction by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar that reveals the origins of their revolutionary realization in the 1970s that "the personal was the political, the sexual was the textual." "The classic argument for a women's literary tradition."-Scott Heller, Chronicle of Higher Education "The authors force us to take a new look at the grandes dames of English literature, and the result is that they will never seem quite the same again."-Le Anne Schreiber, New York Times Book Review "Imperative reading."-Carolyn G.
Heilbrun, Washington Post Book World "A masterpiece."-Carolyn See, Los Angeles Times Book Review "The Madwoman in the Attic, The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century, originally published in 1979, has long since become a classic, one of the most important works of literary criticism of the 20th century.
This new edition contains an introduction titled 'The Madwoman in the Academy' that is, quite simply, a delight to read, warmly witty, provocative, informative and illuminating."-Joyce Carol Oates, Princeton University "A groundbreaking study of women writers...The book brought the concerns of feminism to the study of female writers and presented the case for the existence of a distinctly feminine imagination."-Martin Arnold, The New York Times "The authors are brilliant academics but they wear their erudition lightly.
It remains imperative reading for those who want to understand better the grandes dames of English literature, and is still one of the most powerful pieces of writing from a feminist point of view.
Argumentative, polemical, witty and thought-provoking, this is a book which will make the reader return to the original texts." -Yorkshire Post (Leeds) "A feminist classic and still one of the best books on the female Victorian writers."-Judith Shulevitz, New York Times Book Review
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 768 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press
- Publication Date: 11/07/2000
- Category: Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900
- ISBN: 9780300084580
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by BarbBowling
This is must-reading for anyone who loves to read serious literature. My copy is dog-eared and marked up; I use it for reference and short reading, as it reads for me more like a text-book than a page-turner. However, it is on my bedside table. This was a watershed influence on my intellectual life. Highly recommended.
Review by thorold
Another university textbook I've been meaning to read cover-to-cover for a long time. Famous enough that everyone ignores the clever title and just calls it "Gilbert & Gubar", over 600 pages long, and with in-depth studies of half a dozen of the biggest names in nineteenth-century literature, it's a daunting prospect. Happily it turns out to be eminently readable, much more so than I remember from when I was writing essays - maybe my standards have changed?The really important thing about it, of course, is that it's one of the books that made respectable the idea that we need to look at the work of women writers in terms of their role as women in the society of the time, and also bearing in mind that they were writing for a largely female audience. (G&G appeared in 1979, about the same time as Elaine Showalter's <i>A literature of their own</i>.) Where more recent feminist critique tends to mix in other theoretical approaches, G&G look almost exclusively at how women writers deal with and aare influenced by the situation of women in the society of their times, and their own role as women writers in particular. How do you deal with the assertive act of speaking out in print in a society where the ideal of feminine behaviour is supposed to be passive and silent? Despite the famous, aggressively Freudian, opening line, there is little or no recourse to the usual male authority-figures of lit-crit (Marx, Freud, Derrida, Barthes, Foucault...). Virginia Woolf, of course, is quoted heavily, and G&G have quite a bit to say about how 19th century women writers saw each others' work.One part I found especially interesting was the discussion of how women writers engaged with Milton: maybe an obvious question to pose for <i>Frankenstein</i> and <i>Middlemarch</i>, but not at all self-evident for <i>Wuthering Heights</i> until you've seen their analysis. With hindsight, one of the surprising things about the book is the way it sticks to the narrowly-defined "canon" of 19th century English writing - there is only the very briefest discussion of Victorian popular novelists who have since fallen out of favour (Mrs Oliphant, Charlotte M. Yonge, Harriet Beecher Stowe, etc.), and apart from Emily Dickinson there is nothing about women writers who were relatively unknown in their own time. Obviously the reason for this is that they want to concentrate their energy on the writers who have received the lioness's share of critical attention and show how looking at them as women can change our perception of their work and what it is trying to say. Rediscovering writers who were unfairly neglected isn't part of their remit. But it does mean that you shouldn't try to use this book on its own to get a view of women's writing in 19th century England (and New England...). Let alone anywhere else.