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Thread: Good Female Authors

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    A 40 Bag To Freedom E.A Rumfield's Avatar
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    Good Female Authors

    I realized I in my short life have not read a female author. Maybe a few poets but no authors. I must admit I've had my fill of stuffy 18th and 19th century literature that reeks of drawing rooms and "this is just too tiresome my darling". Someone recommended Virginia Woolf. I've heard of Sylvia Plath and Charlotte Bronte. Give me a good place to start.
    Her hair was like a flowing cascade and her breasts were real awesome also.
    My ***** Better Have My Money by Fly Guy
    My ***** better have my money.
    Through rain, sleet, or snow,
    my ho better have my money.
    Not half, not some, but all my cash.
    Because if she don't, I'll put my foot dead in her ***.

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    Registered User Desolation's Avatar
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    Woolf's probably my favorite, but she does have a bit of that drawing room aesthetic to her.

    Djuna Barnes is also excellent, and well separated from stuffy 19th Century literature.

    Gertrude Stein is also a very fine writer for the brave.

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    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Virginia Woolf is the obvious big name in modernist fiction.

    Anyway a short list sticking to 20th century:
    Toni Morrison
    Alice Walker
    Gertrude Stein
    Margaret Atwood
    Alice Munro
    Flannery O'Connor

    Of those, Munro and O'Connor are probably my favourites.

    Edit: Just as an aside, Jane Austen is arguably the finest novelist in the English language.

    Aphra Behn might interest you if you have any interest in 17th-18th century early prose, Oroonoko is popular.
    Last edited by OrphanPip; 09-01-2012 at 10:19 PM.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
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    A 40 Bag To Freedom E.A Rumfield's Avatar
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    What novels would you recommend by Stein, Barnes, O'Connor and Munro?
    Her hair was like a flowing cascade and her breasts were real awesome also.
    My ***** Better Have My Money by Fly Guy
    My ***** better have my money.
    Through rain, sleet, or snow,
    my ho better have my money.
    Not half, not some, but all my cash.
    Because if she don't, I'll put my foot dead in her ***.

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    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E.A Rumfield View Post
    What novels would you recommend by Stein, Barnes, O'Connor and Munro?
    I find Stein very difficult, Tender Buttons is a prose-poem that is interesting and out of copyright. Of her novels, I've only read Three Lives, which was interesting but not easy.

    I don't know Barnes.

    O'Connor is strongest as a short story writer, A Good Man is Hard to Find (you can find the excellent eponymous story online to give her a try) and Everything that Rises Must Converge are both excellent.
    http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~surette/goodman.html

    Alice Munro is best known for writing short story cycles, which are collections of short stories that form a loosely bound novel, a good early example is Lives of Girls and Women.
    Last edited by OrphanPip; 09-01-2012 at 10:38 PM.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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    Registered User Desolation's Avatar
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    Barnes only has one major work...Nightwood. It's pretty short, but very odd.

    As for Stein, her most famous (and most accessible) work is The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. However, I wouldn't call it very representative. I've been very slowly (and I mean about 2-3 pages a day) working my way through her much longer work The Making of Americans. I think it's brilliant, but difficult to sit down with for very long.

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    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Hilary Mantel - her books Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies chronicling the life of Thomas Cromwell are excellent.
    Angela Carter - The Magic Toyshop.
    Joyce Carol Oates - Rape: A Love Story.
    Barbara Kingsolver - The Poisonwood Bible / The Lacuna
    Muriel Spark - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
    Doris Lessing - The Golden Notebook / The Fifth Child / Memoirs of a Survivor
    Margaret Atwood - Oryx & Crake
    Room - Emma Donoghue
    Yoko Ogawa - The Housekeeper and the Professor
    Stella Duffy - Theodora

    All contemporary writers. If you're looking for something more 'classic' then the obvious choices are Jane Austen, any of the Brontes, Woolf as you've mentioned or George Eliot.
    Want to know what I think about books? Check out https://biisbooks.wordpress.com/

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    Registered User namenlose's Avatar
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    I don’t know if you are also interested in poets, but my favorite female writer would have to be Emily Dickinson. I don’t think her work is exactly the best place to start, since her perspectives were conceptually original and challenging on many occasions. However, her poems are not exactly linguistically difficult, even though their structure may seem strange to someone who is not familiar with them. I would recommend her nonetheless, In spite of the possible difficulties the reading of her works can present, as she is one of the best poets of the nineteenth century. Although there are an immense number of masterpieces among her poems, I will share here one which has specially haunted me recently:

    A Pit — but Heaven over it —
    And Heaven beside, and Heaven abroad,
    And yet a Pit —
    With Heaven over it.

    To stir would be to slip —
    To look would be to drop —
    To dream — to sap the Prop
    That holds my chances up.
    Ah! Pit! With Heaven over it!

    The depth is all my thought —
    I dare not ask my feet —
    'Twould start us where we sit
    So straight you'd scarce suspect
    It was a Pit — with fathoms under it —
    Its Circuit just the same.
    Seed — summer — tomb —
    Whose Doom to whom?

    Among the women novelists, Jane Austen is arguably the most remarkable. The scope of her books was limited to significantly defined settings and situations, but the way she worked within such limitations is incredibly outstanding. None of her major novels seems to be of the same nature of another, which illustrates the prolific quality of her art. The thematic consistency of each one was carefully structured in a simple though competent plot, closing with a happy ending which provides a touching and cathartic conclusion to the events of relevance to the characters. And, once again, characterization is one of Austen’s strongest points. Not only are the heroines marvelous and memorable, they are also surrounded by great casts of interesting secondary characters which include, of course, their future husbands. The narrative style is rich and witty, portraying the story through a gentle and humane irony which contributes to develop a secure proximity between the occurrences in the book and the reader’s affection. Recalling her greatest achievements, from the dialect beauty of Pride and Prejudice and the inventive comedy of Emma to the subtler shades of Mansfield Park and Persuasion, I cannot help feeling myself touched by a profound empathy. Although I have not thought of her with much frequency lately, I think it’s clear she is one of my favorite authors too, as well as one of the few who could dispute the title of the English language’s greatest novelist.

    For power of observation and character immersion, you should look for George Eliot, whose Middlemarch is one of the finest masterpieces of the nineteenth century. As for the Brönte sisters, they were great heirs of Byron’s art of portraying the darker sides of romantic affection, which impregnates their own works and gives them an exquisite eminence difficult to find anywhere else. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are immensely popular even today, and their originality never fails to entice my interest.

    I would also concur with the assertion that Woolf is the first reference among female novelists of the twentieth century. In her best books, she developed with an astonishing mastery of composition a colorful narrative art, founded mainly on impressionist techniques which were wonderfully integrated in her apt command of stream-of-consciousness.
    Last edited by namenlose; 09-02-2012 at 04:37 AM.

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    I heartily endorse Austen! She's simply wonderful.

    I can't speak much for the 20th century, but from earlier there are quite a few big names: George Eliot, the Brontes, Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, Frances Burney, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin, Louisa May Alcott, Christina Rossetti and Ann Radcliffe all leap to mind (in no particular order!).
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    Agatha Christie is quite good I've heard, although I haven't personally read any myself.

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    I think Oprhanpip greatly exaggerates when he says Austen is the finest novelist in the english language, but I do think she is amongst the finest stylistic writers of prose in the english language. I think she is the peak of english neo-clasisim; the harmony, elegance and grace of her works is exceptional and I think you really ought to reconsider. Those stuffy drawing rooms bear for more resemblance to the battle of Waterloo than any opium den.

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    The female authors I like are George Eliot, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Mitchell, Agatha Chritstie and Maria Edgeworth.

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Two exceptional genre writers I can recommend off the top of my head are Ursula LeGuin (sci-fi/fantasy), who even gets respect from literature snobs, and Carol O'Connell, whose Kathleen Mallory character and series are top-tier.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    A 40 Bag To Freedom E.A Rumfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexander III View Post
    Those stuffy drawing rooms bear for more resemblance to the battle of Waterloo than any opium den.
    I what way? That they were both pointless and absurdly meaningless, war and English society. For a while it seems that only upper middle to upper class people wrote. And they wrote about high society. Where condemning it or elevating it or simply portraying it was high society. And a very stupid society. Was Dickens one of the first writers to write about the real world, outside of fancy dinner parties?
    Her hair was like a flowing cascade and her breasts were real awesome also.
    My ***** Better Have My Money by Fly Guy
    My ***** better have my money.
    Through rain, sleet, or snow,
    my ho better have my money.
    Not half, not some, but all my cash.
    Because if she don't, I'll put my foot dead in her ***.

  15. #15
    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E.A Rumfield View Post
    I what way? That they were both pointless and absurdly meaningless, war and English society. For a while it seems that only upper middle to upper class people wrote. And they wrote about high society. Where condemning it or elevating it or simply portraying it was high society. And a very stupid society. Was Dickens one of the first writers to write about the real world, outside of fancy dinner parties?
    Reducing Austen's novels to being about fancy dinner parties kind of misses the point entirely. Besides, her novels are not really about well to do powerful people. They are often about just barely middle class women in precarious positions. Like in Sense and Sensibility, the Dashwood's are essentially destitute and rely entirely on the charity of family. The only wealthy protagonist in her novels is Emma.

    Then again, those novels are not really about the society the women find themselves in, although Austen does often subtly critique it. Emma is a finely written comedy of manners that is ultimately about character flaws and the inability of people to perceive what seems to be obvious. Northanger Abbey is a satire of the Gothic novel. Sense and Sensibility is an attack on the extremes of both Romanticism and Enlightenment values.

    None of this really matters though, because it is Austen's command of style that makes her stand out.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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