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Elizabeth Bowen

A Reputation in Writing

Renee Hoogland

Publication Year: 1994

Immensely popular during her lifetime, the Ango-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) has since been treated as a peripheral figure on the literary map. If only in view of her prolific outputten novels, nearly eighty short stories, and a substantial body of non- fictionBowen is a noteworthy novelist. The radical quality of her work, however, renders her an exceptional one.

Surfacing in both subject matter and style, her fictions harbor a subversive potential which has hitherto gone unnoticed. Using a wide range of critical theories-from semiotics to psychoanalysis, from narratology to deconstruction-this book presents a radical re-reading of a selection of Bowen's novels from a lesbian feminist perspective.

Taking into account both cultural contexts and the author's non-fictional writings, the book's main focus is on configurations of gender and sexuality. Bowen's fiction constitutes an exploration of the unstable and destabilizing effects of sexuality in the interdependent processes of subjectivity and what she herself referred to as so-called reality.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. xi-xii

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Foreword

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pp. xiii-xvii

Despite the efforts of lesbian and feminist publishing houses and a few university presses, the bulk of the most important lesbian works has traditionally been available only from rare-book dealers, in a few university libraries, or in gay and lesbian...

Acknowledgments

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pp. xix-

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1. Introduction: Elizabeth Bowen—A Story of Sorts

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pp. 1-23

The Anglo-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) considered herself to be in the most eligible position to write a book about Elizabeth Bowen. She did not live to complete the set of autobiographical...

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2. Technologies of Female Adolescence

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pp. 24-71

FictionalizationlFactualization. In her preface (1952) to the American edition of The Last September (1929; hereafter LS), Elizabeth Bowen remarked upon a number of respects in which this, her second novel...

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3. Authoring Sexual Identities

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pp. 72-106

Lesbian Desire and Cultural Intelligibility. It should be clear by now that the constitutive function of ideology does not allow Lois to simply "withdraw" from the heterosexual contract in which both Gerald...

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4. Histories of Narrative Desire

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pp. 107-153

Fragmented Figments. In LS, Bowen presents an as yet unformed character trying to negotiate her position within fixed and oppressive ideological structures. Embodied in the figure of the female adolescent...

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5. The Discourse of Suspension

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pp. 154-205

Linking Plots. Stella's last dialogue with Robert appropriately takes place in the enclosure of her blacked-out flat. "Bathed in a red appearance of heat from the electric fire," the room forms a suitably "infernal" setting...

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6. Subtexts of Psychosexuality

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pp. 206-248

Structuring Stylistics. Eva Trout or Changing Scenes (hereafter, ET), as the full title of Bowen's tenth and final novel reads, was published forty-odd years after her first (The Hotel, 1927) and twenty years after the appearance...

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7. Sexual/Textual Transgressions

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pp. 249-290

Ex-centric Outlaws. It is no coincidence that Eva and Jeremy spend their first eight years together in the United States.1 As a country less exclusively rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, or at least...

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8. From Marginality to Ex-centricity

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pp. 291-312

Poststructuralist theories of difference and the cultural break occasioned by postmodernism have rendered any foundationalist claims to universal validity politically suspect and theoretically untenable...

Notes

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pp. 313-344

Bibliography

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pp. 345-356

Index

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pp. 357-369


E-ISBN-13: 9780814744888
E-ISBN-10: 0814744885
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814735114
Print-ISBN-10: 0814735118

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 1994

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Bowen, Elizabeth, 1899-1973 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Lesbians' writings, English -- Ireland -- History and criticism.
  • Feminism and literature -- Ireland -- History -- 20th century.
  • Women and literature -- Ireland -- History -- 20th century.
  • Lesbians -- Ireland -- Intellectual life.
  • Ireland -- In literature.
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