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Women without men : female bonding and the American novel of the 1980s

Author: Donald J Greiner
Publisher: Columbia : University of South Carolina Press, ©1993.
Edition/Format:   Print book : State or province government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Donald J. Greiner's provocative new study evaluates the fiction of ten contemporary female novelists to ask questions about gender relations in American fiction. Looking closely at the reaction of female writers to what Greiner describes as a central paradigm of American literature - men bonding in the wilderness in an attempt to escape women and the social restrictions they represent - Greiner contends that female  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
History
Material Type: Government publication, State or province government publication, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Donald J Greiner
ISBN: 0872498840 9780872498846
OCLC Number: 27013319
Description: vi, 135 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: Ch. 1. Introduction: Female Bonding and Cultural Controversy --
Ch. 2. Female Bonding and Literary Heroines --
Ch. 3. Female Bonding and the Identities of Mothers and Daughters --
Ch. 4. Joan Didion, Diane Johnson, and the Novel of Female Bonding in the 1970s --
Ch. 5. Revising the Paradigm: Female Bonding and the Transients of Housekeeping --
Ch. 6. Women without Men --
Mona Simpson: Anywhere but Here --
Hilma Wolitzer: Hearts --
Meg Wolitzer: This Is Your Life --
Joan Chase: During the Reign of the Queen of Persia --
Lisa Alther: Other Women --
Ch. 7. Coda: Douglas Ungar, Male Novelists, Wilderness Women.
Responsibility: Donald J. Greiner.

Abstract:

Donald J. Greiner's provocative new study evaluates the fiction of ten contemporary female novelists to ask questions about gender relations in American fiction. Looking closely at the reaction of female writers to what Greiner describes as a central paradigm of American literature - men bonding in the wilderness in an attempt to escape women and the social restrictions they represent - Greiner contends that female novelists have not only adopted the venerable model but also adapted it so that women venture into the wilderness while excluding men from the quest. Greiner first shows how such contemporary white male novelists as Frederick Busch, John Irving, and Larry Woiwode modify the literary model established by Cooper, Melville, and Twain to include women in the bonding process. He then argues that recent female novelists are not so eager to allow males into the wilderness or to bond with them. Rather than facilitate a closing of the gender gap, many contemporary female writers insist on separating the sexes. Greiner frames his analysis with discussions of prominent feminist literary theorists and feminist psychologists including Carolyn Heilbrun, Rachel Brownstein, Nancy Chodorow, Janice Raymond, and Judith Kegan Gardiner. From close readings of recent novels by Gloria Naylor, Marianne Wiggins, Joan Didion, Diane Johnson, Marilynne Robinson, Mona Simpson, Hilma Wolitzer, Meg Wolitzer, Joan Chase, and Lisa Alther, Greiner finds three significant differences in the way contemporary female novelists employ the quest plot: the patriarchal text is not repudiated but revised to accommodate female characters who readily accept the traditional masculine call to the quest; once outside the bounds of society, female bonds do not always hold; males are excluded from the bonding process. To contrast the gender exclusivity favored by contemporary female writers, Greiner ends his study with a discussion of bonding as portrayed by contemporary male novelist Douglas Ungar.

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