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The Changing Fictional Images of Women ontheNorth American Landscape Carol Fairbanksand Sara Brooks Sundberg. . Farm Womenon the PrairieFrontier: ASourcebook for Canadaand the United States. Metuchen, NJ.: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1983. 251 +xiiipp. Mary Kelley.Private Woman, Public Stage: Literan' Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century Ameri~a. NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1984. 409+ xxpp. Annette Kolodny.The Land Before Her: Fantasy andExperience of the American Frontiers, 1630-1860. Chapel Hill: TheUniversity of North Carolina Press, 1984. 293+ xixpp. Carolyn Hlus The dearth in the traditional literary canon of literature by women and, subsequently,of feminist criticism and analysis is slowly being rectified. These three books fill gaps in specific areas of feminist literary criticism. By entertaining specific aspects of clearly-defined types of fiction by women, theyprove that feminist analysis is transcending its earlier tendency to make general statements about women's fiction. Farm Women on the PrairieFrontier isconcerned with the relationship between women's fictional and real approachesand adaptations to the North American grasslands. It circumscribes aparticular geographical area of the United States and Canada, and analyzes theliterature by women generated in that area. Private Woman, Public Stage explores the fiction of twelve women writers labeled by Mary Kelley as "literary domestics,"who, beginning in the 1820s and, in some cases, lasting into the twentiethcentury, became best selling American authors. Kelley explores theparadoxical roles of women writers who were publicly working in a realm dominatedby men while privately struggling like all women for independence, self-esteemand power. In Annette Kolodny's The Land Before Her the area ofinvestigation is again limited and particular. Exploring various literary materials-fiction, letters and diaries written by women between 1630 and1860- Kolodny searches for a common denominator in female responses tothe landscape, in particular to the developing frontier. Carol Fairbanks and Sara Brooks Sundberg's book is a critical study of women'sreactions to the landscape, but it is as well an extensive bibliography Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 17, Number 3, Fall 1986, 347-354 348 CarolynHlus of writingsby women of the grasslands. The critical study is a collection offour essays, three historical and sociological and one literary criticism of fiction by grasslandswomen. The annotated bibliography is divided into four sections: 1)the history and background of the U.S. and Canadian prairies; 2)women's non-fiction for the U.S. and Canada; 3) women's fiction for the U.S. and Canada; and 4) a description of the literary backgrounds of both countries. The bibliography on history and background contains approximately seventy entries and emphasizes environment, homemaking and homesteading. Items are not separated according to country; the implication is that subjectslike the pioneer woman's response to the landscape transcend national boundaries and are dependent instead upon the geographical features shared by both countries. Many of these entries focus on the pioneer woman's daily work and imply that women of the prairies, in their lives and subsequently intheir literature, disregard national boundaries and attend to universal concerns such as death, sexuality and friendship between women. Sometimes, however, women are affected by their regions, but by the natural features rather than by men's arbitrary boundaries. The entries consist of research done primary from the late 1970s to 1982 exploring women's pioneering experiences as protrayed in first-person accounts-interviews, letters and diaries- and various miscellaneous historical documents. The result is a well-rounded overview of the reactions to pioneering of women in social strata as distant from each other asthe European immigrant in quest of the American Dream, the British gentlewoman in search of employment, and the easterner forced to follow her husband to the greener pastures of the West. Some entries are broadin scope and provide a vision of the general prairie scene; others deal witha particular ethnic group or a particlar individual's experience in a particular region. A note is made of other sources which provide bibliographies. Similar entries are found in the non-fiction sections for both Canada and the U.S. These entries, however, are by women only, while some in the former section are by men. The non-fictional material is primarily biographies and autobiographies of late-nineteenth· and early-twentieth-century farm...


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