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Women's Lives

Women's Lives: The View from the Threshold

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 120
  • Book Info
    Women's Lives
    Book Description:

    Heilbrun looks at the biographies and memoirs of women who have altered the face of literature and the world, and reveals the ways in which feminism has changed our perceptions of their lives.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5755-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. CHAPTER ONE Deliriously Hideous, A Powerful Beauty
    (pp. 1-30)

    It is possible that every era and stage in human history has considered itself to be in a state of transition. Eve has been supposed to have remarked to Adam as they left the garden, ‘My dear, we are in a state of transition,’ and indeed they were. The sort of transition I shall be speaking about in these four lectures is more exactly defined as a threshold experience, that is, as providing to the actors involved the condition of liminality. The word ‘limen’ means ‘threshold,’ and to be in a state of liminality is to be poised upon uncertain...

  4. CHAPTER TWO The Evolution of the Female Memoir
    (pp. 31-58)

    Before continuing with this series of lectures, I am going to devote an interlude to the subject of sex, particularly to the distinctions between male and female sexual pleasure and the relation of these to narrative and plot. Until just the day before yesterday, all narratives and plots were modelled upon and identified with the linear pattern of male sexuality. Yale professor Peter Brooks has used the following terms to describe what he calls ‘the masterplot’: he speaks of ‘awakening’ and ‘arousal’ taking their course towards ‘significant discharge.’ You will have noticed that these words outline the pattern of male...

  5. CHAPTER THREE Embracing the Paradox
    (pp. 59-82)

    Mothers, as I have already argued, are the single greatest problem in the stories, whether called fiction or memoirs, that women write and have written. For most daughters, mothers evoke what Aristotle recommended as the ideal response to tragedy: pity and terror. That is, pity for the mother’s condition, and terror that one might resemble her. Even if the mother is not specifically the object of resentment, she is rarely considered able to endow the daughter with the necessary tools for realized ambition. Mothers tend to counsel discretion and modesty. And, of course, mothers exist in a no-win position, perhaps...

  6. CHAPTER FOUR The Rewards of Liminality
    (pp. 83-104)

    Ann Snitow, in her essay from which I read the other day, an essay written with a rare mixture of profundity and clarity, sets forth the problem that many women of the generation now writing memoirs – women, that is to say, on either side of fifty and professionally established – face regarding their mothers.

    So entirely was I trapped in negative feelings about what women are and can do that I had repressed any knowledge of femaleness as a defining characteristic of my being. I can see now that women like me come to feminist conclusions much like my...

  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 105-111)