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In this work of feminist literary criticism the authors explore the works of many major 19th-century women writers. They chart a tangible desire expressed for freedom from the restraints of a confining patriarchal society and trace a distinctive female literary tradition.
This book offers a discussion of the trope of madness in twentieth-century French women's writing, focusing on close readings of the following texts: Violette Leduc's "L'Asphyxie" (1946), Marguerite Duras's "Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein" (1964), Simone de Beauvoir's 'La Femme rompue' (1967), Marie Cardinal's "Les Mots pour le dire" (1975), Jeanne Hyvrard's "Les Prunes de Cythere" (1975) and "Mere la mort" (1976). The discussion traces the evolution in the way madness is taken up by women authors from the key period starting just prior to the emergence of second-wave feminism and culminating at the height of the "ecriture feminine" project. This study argues that madness offers itself up to these authors as a powerful means to convey a certain ambivalence towards changing contemporary ideas on the authority of authorship. On the one hand a highly enabling means to figure transgression, the madwoman is equally the repository for a twentieth-century 'anxiety of authorship' on the part of the woman writer."
In this work, Jansen explores a recurring theme in writing by women: the dream of finding or creating a private and secluded retreat from the world of men. These imagined "women's worlds" may be very small, a single room, for example, but many women writers are much more ambitious, fantasizing about cities, even entire countries, created for and inhabited exclusively by women.
Focusing on the ways in which women writers from across the political spectrum engage with and adapt Wollstonecraft's political philosophy in order to advocate feminist reform, Andrew McInnes explores the aftermath of Wollstonecraft's death, the controversial publication of William Godwin's memoir of his wife, and Wollstonecraft's reception in the early nineteenth century. McInnes positions Wollstonecraft within the context of the eighteenth-century female philosopher figure as a literary archetype used in plays, poetry, polemic and especially novels, to represent the thinking woman and address anxieties about political, religious, and sexual heterodoxy. He provides detailed analyses of the ways in which women writers such as Mary Hays, Elizabeth Hamilton, Amelia Opie, and Maria Edgeworth negotiate Wollstonecraft's reputation as personal, political, and sexual pariah to reformulate her radical politics for a post-revolutionary Britain in urgent need of reform. Frances Burney's The Wanderer and Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, McInnes suggests, work as state-of-the-nation novels, drawing on Wollstonecraft's ideas to explore a changing England. McInnes concludes with an examination of Mary Shelley's engagement with her mother throughout her career as a novelist, arguing that Shelley gradually overcomes her anxiety over her mother's stature to address Wollstonecraft's ideas with increasing confidence.

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