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The Victorian woman question in contemporary feminist fiction

The Victorian woman question in contemporary feminist fiction

King, Jeannette

The Victorian Woman Question in Contemporary Feminist Fiction explores the representation of Victorian womanhood in the work of some of today's most important British and North American novelists including A.S. Byatt, Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter and Toni Morrison. By analysing these novels in the context of the scientific, religious and literary discourses that shaped Victorian ideas about gender, it contributes to an important inter-disciplinary debate. For while showing the power of these discourses to shape women's roles, the novels also suggest how individual women might challenge that power through their own lives

Book. English.
Published Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
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Statement of responsibility: Jeannette King
ISBN: 1403917272, 9781403917270
Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. 198-205) and index.
Physical Description: ix, 210 p. ; 23 cm.
Subject: English fiction 20th century History and criticism.; Feminism and literature English-speaking countries History 20th century.; Feminism in literature.; Women and literature English-speaking countries History 20th century.; Women Great Britain History 19th century Historiography.; English fiction Women authors History and criticism.; Sex role in literature.; Women in literature.; Feminist fiction, English History and criticism.; Historical fiction, English History and criticism.


  1. Acknowledgements Introduction PART 1: WHAT IS A WOMAN? VICTORIAN CONSTRUCTIONS OF FEMININITY Religious Prescriptions and Cultural Reflections The Biological Sciences An Unhealthy Mind in an Unhealthy Body? Evolutionary Theory and the Social Sciences Entering the Gender Debate PART 2: THE DARWINIAN MOMENT: THE WOMAN THAT NEVER EVOLVED Separate Species and Separate Spheres: Andrea Barrett
  2. The Voyage of the Naywhal 1855-1856 Darwin and Romantic Love: A.S. Byatt
  3. Morpho Eugenia PART 3: 'CRIMINALS
  5. WOMEN AND MINORS': DEVIANT MINDS IN DEVIANT BODIES Madwoman or Bad Woman? Margaret Attwood
  6. Alias Grace Criminal Influence: Sarah Waters
  7. Affinity PART 4: SUBVERSIVE SPIRITS: SPIRITIUALISM AND FEMALE DESIRE 'Power Words': Victoria Glendinning
  8. Electricity Gender and Poetry: A.S. Byatt
  9. The Conjugial Angel Spiritualism
  10. Psychology and History: Michèle Roberts
  11. In the Red Kitchen PART 5: DEGENERATION AND SEXUAL ANARCHY The Newly-born Woman: Angela Carter
  12. Nights at the Circus Performing Gender: Sarah Waters
  13. Tipping the Velvet PART 6: EVOLUTIONARY THOUGHT
  14. GENDER AND RACE 'Ain't I a Woman?': Toni Morrison's Beloved Afterword Bibliography Index


'This is a substantial and thought-provoking book, with much to offer to readers interested in the history of ideas, as well as to those with a special interest in fiction' - Flora Alexander, Aberdeen University Review

'...King has produced a comprehensively researched and thought-provoking account of recent historical novels by women, achieving the difficult balance of offering perceptive and original scholarly insight to academics and students while remaining accessible and interesting to the more general reader of novels...Her book leaves the reader with an enhanced appreciation of the intellectual and artistic ambitions of contemporary women writers.' - Pam Morris, Women: A Cultural Perspective

'Kind provides a lively, thought-provoking analysis of her topic. Her writing is clear and elegant, her arguments lucid and compelling.' - Wendy Jones Nakanishi, English Studies