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Figuring the Woman Author in Contemporary Fiction by M. Eagleton

By M. Eagleton

If the writer is 'dead', if feminism is 'post-', why does the determine of the girl writer preserve showing as a principal personality in modern fiction? She is anxious with possession yet, both, with loss; made up our minds to go into the cultural box but in addition rejecting that box; trying to find keep an eye on yet topic to duplicity; looking energy along hope. Drawing on a various variety of latest authors - together with Atwood, Byatt, Brookner, Coetzee, Lurie, LeGuin, Michèle Roberts, Shields, Spark, Weldon, Walker - this research explores the complexity and carrying on with fascination of this determine.

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29 Barthes describes the work as something concrete, something that can fit on a library shelf; as tied to the signified; as needing to be interpreted; as involved with ‘sources’ and ‘influences’; as an object of consumption. Evidently, Barthes’s essay did not survive the Gileadean revolution, for while Barthes rejects the work in favour of the pluralistic, playful, democratic Text, Pieixoto and Wade seem to subscribe, unquestioningly, to all the attributes Barthes critiques. Where they differ from Barthes’s schema – as we shall see, for reasons related to gender – is in what Barthes refers to as the ‘process of filiation’, where ‘the author is reputed the father and the owner of his work’, both in terms of the legality of ownership and in recognising and respecting the importance of authorial intention (160).

Soon enraptured by Sfax she embraces ‘the Theory’, publishes her thesis with a feminist publisher – dismissed by Sfax as ‘limp and sandpapery booklettes’ (40) – and then embarks, much to Sfax’s horror, on his biography with an advance from a major New York publisher to make it possible. Sfax knows that all will be revealed through Astrid’s detecting: like the troublesome women of a Wilkie Collins’s novel, Astrid has to be silenced. The death of this woman author is at once real and theoretically audacious.

History becomes ‘a great darkness’; the material presence of Offred reverts to an echo or a disembodied voice; Offred will never be known, only glimpsed. At the moment when she is, possibly, rescued by Nick, Offred wonders if she is stepping ‘into the darkness within; or else the light’ (307). Once again, as with Eurydice, she is poised between two worlds. Pieixoto’s reading has confined her, if not in the darkness, then in the shadow of his own search for authorial status. 3 Playing the Field Women’s Access to Cultural Production Carr: … What is an artist?

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