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ELT 36 : 1 1993 is to explore a "cross-section" of writers which does in fact enable her to bring to our attention so many writers and issues, but given the amount of space devoted to Wordsworth and Carlyle, I would have liked to have seen Corbett bring her considerable powers of analysis to more detailed readings of many of the women writers' texts. Nonetheless, those whose areas of critical inquiry and teaching include autobiography, nineteenth-century women's lives and writing, and the interplay of cultural norms, the production of literature and the construction of the self, will be amply rewarded by reading Representing Femininity, in which many voices are heard, not least among them Corbett's own, with its informed and subtle comprehension of the texts and contexts she surveys. Patricia O'Hara Franklin & Marshall College Lawrence and Women Carol Siegel. Lawrence Among the Women: Wavering Boundaries in Women's Literary Traditions. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia Press, 1991. 232 pp. $25.00 LAWRENCE AMONG THE WOMEN demonstrates as effectively as any study to date the relevance of feminist literary criticism to an understanding of D. H. Lawrence—and its important reverse, the relevance of Lawrence to an understanding of feminist theory. Lawrence has always figured in feminist literary criticism, most often as the enemy, but for Carol Siegel, Lawrence is more valuable as an ally. As she explains at the end of her study, Lawrence "caused his works to flow beside [the works of women], from the same sources," and it is at those points "where borders slip and women's and men's visions meet, mingle, and then flow apart that we can see women's literary traditions taking form." She concludes, "We need him." Earlier sympathetic studies of Lawrence and feminism have already demonstrated the number of affinities that Lawrence has with women and women's issues. The active, angry women of his fiction—resistant to masculine control and, in that resistance, undercutting the male voice—are often cited as evidence that the bad press Lawrence received from Kate Millett and others was the result of serious misreading. Siegel's intention, however, is not to present a "friendly feminist reading of Lawrence." Instead she uses Lawrence to rethink our understanding of a women's literary tradition and to illuminate the dilemma underly116 BOOK REVIEWS ing much current gender criticism: can we recognize important differences in gender as essential without buying into the grounds for cultural suppression of women? Siegel does not dodge the question. She begins her study by quoting Diana Fuss's affirmation that an "essentialist definition of 'woman' implies that there will always remain some part of'woman'which resists masculine imprinting and socialization" and moves from there to establish Lawrence's own affirmation of difference. At the same time Siegel is interested in the number of ways in which Lawrence identified with women—the result of his physical weakness as a working-class male, she believes—and drew on their experiences and help for his own writing. Her first chapter traces the reasons why strong women like Mabel Dodge Luhan were attracted to him: in his own life he dealt with the same condition of marginality they had to face. It is from this biographical imperative that Siegel moves to her challenging consideration of how Lawrence is central to the tradition of women writers. In the three chapters that form the heart of her study, she considers those writers he "read and praised early in life," in particular the Brontë sisters and George Eliot; the contemporary women writers who were engaged in his work, in particular Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, H.D., and Anais Nin; and his successors, in particular Doris Lessing, Elizabeth Bowen, and Christina Stead. Of the importance of the Brontes and Eliot to Lawrence's development , Siegel writes, "Lawrence meditated on and responded to the work of women who were able to write themselves out of marginality and into the center. In the texts of the Victorian women writers whom the dominant literary community had approved, he found strong mothers to bid him speak." The question of influence, we have come to realize, is complex, more often involving rebellion...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 116-119
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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