Synopses & Reviews
"America is now wholly given over to a d -- d mob of scribbling women", wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne in a famous 1855 line to his publisher, "and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash". This so-called "trash" has since been rediscovered by a new generation of feminist historians and literary critics who have redefined the significance of the fiction produced by nineteenth-century American women writers. The short story, with its flexible, innovative form and its responsiveness to scene, dialect, and regional and class conflicts, was the perfect medium for delineating the isolation and constriction in which so many women's lives were lived. "Literature", insisted Constance Fenimore Woolson, "must not refuse to deal with the ugly and the commonplace and even the shockingly unpleasant". By the century's end, the short story form had developed to an unprecedented level of sophistication and adaptability. Novelists of the highest distinction were able to find in it a means of exploring and extending their artistic range.
With stories by Louisa May Alcott, Willa Cather, Kate Chopin, Rebecca Harding Davis, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Susan Glaspell, Sarah Orne Jewett, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Catharine Sedgwick, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Edith Wharton, and Constance Fenimore Woolson, Scribbling Women introduces readers to a sampling of the best stories by nineteenth-century American women writers. In addition to the energy and intelligence revealed here, the pieces compiled share a wide-ranging imaginative vision and raise questions we are still debating today.
-- The best sampling available of the finest stories by19th-century American women writers.
-- Highlights the rich potential of the short story form.
Short Stories By 19th-Century American Women. These tales of remarkable and of ordinary lives in nineteeth-century America are told through women's voices that call out from the kitchen hearth, the solitary room, the prison cell.
A new mother longing to write is judged "hysterical" and confined to her bedroom where she slowly loses herself in horrific fantasy. A young girl stirred by two beings--a handsome young man and an ethereal white heron--is forced to make a choice between them. A love affair quashed by convention ignites during a sudden storm. These tales of remarkable and ordinary lives in nineteenth-century America are told throughout women's voices that call out from the kitchen hearth, the solitary room, the prison cell. Stories by Louisa May Alcott, Willa Cather, Kate Chopin, and Edith Wharton, as well as by others less familiar, reveal a universe of emotions hidden beneath parochial scenes. American writers claimed the short story as their national genre in the nineteenth century, and women writers made it the most important outlet for their particular experiences. A unique selection, with an introduction, notes, selected criticism, and a chrolonology of the authors' lives and times.
With sources as diverse as A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Scream 2, Inventing Herself is an expansive and timely exploration of three centuries of feminist intellectuals, each of whom possesses a boundless determination to alter the world by boldly experiencing love, achievement, and fame on a grand scale. Focusing on paradigmatic figures ranging from Mary Wollstonecraft and Margaret Fuller to Germaine Greer and Susan Sontag, preeminent scholar Elaine Showalter uncovers common themes and patterns of women's lives across the centuries and discovers the feminist intellectual tradition they embodied. The author brilliantly illuminates the contributions of Eleanor Marx, Zora Neale Hurston, Simone de Beauvoir, Margaret Mead, and many more.
Showalter, a highly regarded critic known for her provocative and strongly held opinions, has here established a compelling new Who's Who of women's thought. Certain to spark controversy, the omission of such feminist perennials as Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, Robin Morgan, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Virginia Woolf will surprise and shock the conventional wisdom.
About the Author
Elaine Showalter is Avalon Foundation Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. She is the author and editor of many books on women's writing, including Sister's Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women's Writing.