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Thread: Feminist fiction

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Feminist fiction

    Hello my fellow feminists I was just listening to Weekend Woman's Hour (BBC Radio 4). I hope you can access it if you're not in the UK. It was discussing feminist fiction. One of the books mentioned was The Odd Woman by George Gissing. It was described as an "amazing portrait of the oppression women were living through, but it's a good read as well." Of the two guests, one thought Jane Eyre was a good feminist, the other hated her. Both liked Hardy and thought Tess of the d'Urbervilles was a feminist novel (not sure about that myself). They thought Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice was more of a feminist than Emma.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Eiseabhal
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    Poor Gissing loved sluts.

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    How do you know that, Eiseabhal? Were you loved by Gissing?

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    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    Hello my fellow feminists I was just listening to Weekend Woman's Hour (BBC Radio 4). I hope you can access it if you're not in the UK. It was discussing feminist fiction. One of the books mentioned was The Odd Woman by George Gissing. It was described as an "amazing portrait of the oppression women were living through, but it's a good read as well." Of the two guests, one thought Jane Eyre was a good feminist, the other hated her. Both liked Hardy and thought Tess of the d'Urbervilles was a feminist novel (not sure about that myself). They thought Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice was more of a feminist than Emma.
    Anyone who believes what Women's Hour has to say is naive, because it's a litany of woe on women's lives from Timbuktu to Tyneside and is the finest example of the loony left's penetration of the BBC imaginable. George Gissing was bound to be mentioned there sooner or later by virtue of his left-wing writing but, that being said, he is a very good writer whose career was blighted by his having stolen money to support a young prostitute who was on the breadline. Gissing's most famous work is New Grub Street, something that should appeal to many on this forum as it deals with the struggle of writers trying to break through into print and their recourse to hack work to keep body and soul together. Casting Women's Hour aside( always an easy thing to do), Gissing led an extraordinary life worthy of a great novel in itself but it would take a Zola or an Orwell to write it. There is, however, an excellent biography by Gillian Tindall called The Born Exile: George Gissing.
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    Outlook Gloomy Neely's Avatar
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    Woman's Hour is painful listening, from what memories I have of it, which is not much I must confess (though isn't 'Woman's Hour' somewhat sexist in theory anyway?) However, I can certainly see Jane Eyre as a feminist figure because she rejects the easy life of being Rochester's mistress, even though her lower social status would mean that this would be a social climb to a degree. Also in considering the famous ending line of 'reader, I married him.' Likewise Tess is also quite a forthright individual and I can certainly see that Elizabeth Bennett is more 'feminist' than Emma. So all in all I think I agree with those points anyway, even if they are hardly 'earth shattering' stuff. Kind of 'woman's hour' material.

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    Gee, I'd find literature boring if I continually looked at it through such a limited lense.
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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I have been researching George Gissing a little. He was an interesting writer. He won a scholarship, but fell in love with a prostitute, stole money from fellow students to help her, was arrested, stripped of his prizes and sent to jail for a month. He later married the prostitute, although eventually they separated. That suggests his views on women's sexual purity and marriage were more easy-going than those of some Victorian gentlemen.

    However, it seems he was not a feminist after all. He was a misogynist (linky).

    "Gissing's bleak picture of urban life, his misogyny and social conservatism, and his unsparing dissection of the human character make his novels more respected than enjoyed."

    and

    "Gissing's reputation as a feminist is problematic. The Odd Women is a fascinating study of independent new women in contrast to helpless traditional women who fall victim to poverty, genteel alcoholism, and desperately unhappy marriage. Other books expose the ways in which marriage traps both women and men, but Gissing also seems to believe that women's education destroys good housekeeping."
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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