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Reviewed by:
Bettina L. Knapp. Women in Twentieth-Century Literature: A Jungian View. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1987. 249 pp. $24.95.

Bettina Knapp sets out to write a practical book that will serve the psychological introspection of readers, even as it explores the fictional representations of women in diverse cultures from a Jungian perspective. She offers close analysis of characters, dreams, and symbolic structures in García Lorca's Yerma, Elizabeth Bowen's The Death of the Heart, Isak Dinesen's "Peter and Rosa," Nathalia Ginzburg's All Our Yesterdays, Flannery O'Connor's "Everything that Rises Must Converge," Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, Nathalie Sarraute's Between Life and Death, Pa Chin's Family, Fumiko Enchi's Masks, and Anita Desai's Fire on the Mountain. The selection is richly multicultural, and the discussion of mythic parallels enhances this aspect of Knapp's work, as she carefully informs readers about the specific myths and archetypes of individual cultures, comparing them to the classical works that appear in traditional Jungian discussions. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of Rhys's colonial British material and the Chinese, Japanese, and Indian fiction. I missed the inclusion of any black author, although black women are presented by Rhys and O'Connor; I found only a slim presence of a lesbian view of women. The works span the years 1931-1977; modernist experimentation appears in the post-1950 writing of Rhys and Sarraute but not in works from the early half of the century. Knapp chooses texts that are rich in imagery and dream content and ones where a character goes through numerous phases that may be examined for realization of the Jungian process of individuation. The category of the "puella" (a nondeveloping feminine character who fails to face reality) appeared in numerous works, taking on special meaning in the context of patriarchy. Knapp's Introduction provides very basic definitions of Jungian terms, making her book accessible to readers unfamiliar with Jungian theory. She also provides a one- or twoparagraph biography of each author, sometimes linking psychological and cultural details to the work under consideration. [End Page 329]

How successful is the work from a feminist standpoint? Knapp begins with a quotation from Jung himself, where he calls the idealization of women, "beginning with sacred motherhood, and the purity and chastity of women," both a "healthy-minded mistake" and "a most destructive kind of optimism." She moves immediately to the phenomenon of reviling as well as idealizing women and alerts readers to the phenomenon of "projection"—the assigning "of characteristics we love or hate onto others." In her own text, Knapp does not draw attention to the developing canon of feminist psychoanalytic theory, although her bibliography and notes cite the work of Esther Harding, Estella Lauter, Annis Pratt, Merlin Stone, and Marina Werner. She does state the need to "reevaluate and revise some of Jung's concepts "when the need arises" in order to "keep pace with changing times and different customs, and to avoid a single-minded inquiry," a realization of flux that she considers entirely in the spirit of Jung's own beliefs. She resist's Jung's "benevolent patriarchal views" of the feminine psyche, including the categorical assignment of logos to the male and eros to the female, and the failure to assign the female a soul in the anima/animus duality, as well as his negative construing of the animus in women. Knapp's selection of Sarraute's text allows her to develop concepts of androgyny and logos in association with the female that move on creatively from Jung's limitations. There has been a great deal of feminist work on castration, often rich in reference and challenge to classical mythical paradigms. I wish that in evoking castration in Flannery O'Connor's work, Knapp had brought in the perspectives of, for example, Hélène Cixous. The subject of mothering now likewise has an interdisciplinary feminist archive that problematizes the Jungian perspective accepted in the treatments of Bowen, Ginzburg, Rhys, and Chin. Knapp is alert to the limitations on women's lives imposed by patriarchal systems, and she acquaints her readers with the varieties...


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pp. 329-330
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