Sunday, 2 January 2011

Women's Lit: The novels that defined 20th-century woman.

From Stylist Magazine

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. 1899. "Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life." A wife and mother begins asking herself difficult questions in this landmark work of proto-feminism.
A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf. 1929. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” An eloquent extended essay railing against the inevitable strictures of a patriarchal society.
The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. 1963. “The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence. Semi-autobiographical novel about a young writer who tries, and eventually refuses, to fit in.
The Diary of Anais Nin, Anais Nin. 1966. “Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Seven volumes of unconventional wisdom and liberal sexuality from one of the 20th century’s most inspiring thinkers.
The Colour Purple, by Alice Walker. 1982. “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” Pulitzer-winning novel dealing in racial and sexual oppression.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson. 1985. “Love has been diluted into paperback form and sole thousands and millions of copies.” Ground-breaking coming-of-age novel exploring religious and sexual repression.
The Beauty Myth: How Images Of Beauty Are Used Against Women, by Naomi Wolf. 1991. “Western women have been controlled by ideals and stereotypes as much as by material constraints.” Academic yet palatable argument that the pressure to conform to an invented ideal of “beauty” is a means of controlling women.
The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler. 1996. “Just say c**t! Everything changes.” Episodic play dealing with rape, incest, pleasure and pain.

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