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The place of women in literature (part 1)

Why do we know so few women writers and why will this change in the twenty first century

Women’s text in literature for a very long time remained an unexplored black continent, a lost point of coordinates — “Big” (that is, masculine) prose ignored it. This is exactly what some literary critic (in this near future, a profeminist) will say in twenty or thirty years. This problem began to be discussed in the 60s. By the middle of the XXI century, having corrected mistakes and replayed the literature in a new way, a significant part of the educated male population of the planet will join those who talk about it with a pure soul and without the yoke of the past.

Why are women underrepresented in literature
If we turn to the justifiably aggressive criticism of the feminist poststructuralist Helen Sixu, we can understand that in the absence of a dense and weighty body of women’s texts, “penisogolovye”is really to blame. And this is true: throughout the history of mankind, repressive phallocratic (as this Frenchwoman would put it) mechanisms extended not only to family and marital relations-they also took a great ride through the space of language.

Helen, The Six’s
All systems of government-in our galaxy as yet represented by men-are fed by language and at the same time control it, which is equivalent to power and violence (hence the desperate struggle of the new order for many ridiculous feminitives).
That is why the figure of a woman in literature embodies the myth of the Echo-nymph, deprived of its own voice, forced again and again in a weak voice to echo the creatures who are proud of their “pocket symbol”. But she is not only deprived of her voice: according to the myth, her body was taken away from her, and with it the very possibility of writing.

Why is the letter releases the physicality
In an important article for poststructuralist philosophy, “the laughter of Medusa”, Helen Sixu loops between academism and poetry and writes that the flesh never lies, exposing itself, physically materializing the thought into the text. Women, in her opinion, should know their corporeality through the act of writing. This is physicality-a text selected from a woman by male authors, harnessed to the rusty patterns of the marriage plot with its inevitable domestication: you are an incubator for children — and to have tea by five o’clock (in General, the eternal values of the Golden classic).

At this point, Sixu’s program theses vaguely echo one of the interpretations of the “body without organs” by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. It is the concept of an empty shell, alienated from its desires, pleasure, and the possibility of verbal or written expression. Postmodern philosophers constructed this metaphor of a “surgically operated”, hysterical physicality based on the story of the “experimental” artist Andre Breton, Nadia, and the second wife of the writer Henry Miller, June.

The cases of these two women are symptomatic of the collective fate of many modernist women. For the patriarchs of literature, ” she ” is at most an intellectual-a lightweight, non-author, a small cardboard doll that can only be used as a framework for creating a heroine — often a disfigured and funny mannequin of a real prototype. It was this distorted perception, this label of hysteria, that June wrote in a letter to another friend of Miller’s, anais NIN, lamenting her portrayal in the novel tropic of Cancer: “He didn’t write me, he didn’t write me… How monstrous it is.” Nadia, for Breton-a former student who was studying to be a psychiatrist and together with Louis Aragon drooled on young patients-was a kind of laboratory mouse: after probing the material for a potential novel, the surrealist escaped.

In the dry residue we have truly magnificent things of two mastodons of modernism: “tropic of Cancer”and” Nadia ” – mastodon. And in the 70s, their texts uncovered the abscess of objectification and unhealthy fetish and exposed the caricature (if not stilt) of the heroines. As a result, what Flaubert called the “Muse” turned out to be a source of literary vampirism.

Miller did not even try to cover himself with gilded romance: he called his inspiring companions cunts — and this was not shy.
To the question of collective fate: what happened to Nadia or June? It is said that June was subjected to electroconvulsive therapy and alternately changed her life in motels to a series of psychiatric wards. Nadia died in a hospital in 1940-that’s all we know. Second question: where are their texts? After all, according to Kathy Zambrano’s non-fiction study of Heroines, both wrote. However, there is no evidence that they tried to publish anything. There was only an echo of the echo, a vague memory only because men had appropriated other people’s registers, preventing them from writing their own history.

What is a woman’s ” fear of authorship»
The Bible for feminist literary scholars the Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Jubar States that the very possibility of female writing was hindered by the lack of predecessors and, as a result, confidence. Based on this construct, Gilbreth/Jubar developed the concept of “fear of authorship” — an illness fueled by a Patriarchal monopoly on art.
Elaine Showalter
Decorative ladies had their pencil knocked out of their hands and were only occasionally allowed to scratch the paper. It is not surprising that, without exaggeration, most of the women who tried to write in the Victorian and modern era were sent to psychiatric hospitals. Elaine Showalter’s book The Female Malady (a kind of female version of Michel Foucault’s “History of madness”) says that the girls of the previous century were lucky enough to be allowed to write at least once in a while.

If you go back to the XIX century, when a woman writing just started to outline, you will immediately stumble over the diagnosis: not only were they not allowed to approach the paper with a cannon shot — this very attraction for a woman was considered a deviation, a mental disorder.
The archives of hospices and hospitals are filled with stories of such”disorders”. For example, a Swiss peasant woman was sent to a Cantonese hospital for delaying work for the sake of a morning letter.

In addition to the fact that Showalter criticizes the vertical of psychiatric power that served men as a good support, the researcher collects methods for treating such ailments: incarceration in the attic (Hello, Jen Eyre!), pouring cold water (if a Philistine), but the worst — no ink.

Agnes Richter, an Austrian seamstress imprisoned in a hospital in Heilberg, somehow managed to steal the ink. Her ugly jacket is thickly covered with illegible text, in which “I want to read” and “I want to write”are scattered in a few dotted lines. For feminists this terrible artifact is another proof of the repression of masculine language, brought eerily need to wrap myself in the text; for the indifferent, doodles, reminiscent of the abstract artist CY Twombly (perhaps too well).

Lost women writers
If you make a pilgrimage to the memorials of modernist writers like Jane Bowles or Zelda Fitzgerald, you will find everywhere the voluminous, almost menacing shadow of their author husbands.

Jane Bowles,
an American writer from new York who lived in Tangier. She wrote a novel about the journey “breaking bad” of two wealthy ladies.
Playwright Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote called her the most significant novelist of the century — however, her name always goes only in conjunction with the name of her husband, Paul Bowles.

In Tangier, elbowing your way through the hijab-clad crowd, catch a taxi driver. Many of them just need to hear “Po Bo” to know that you want to visit the house of Paul Bowles. Bowles was a great author: the admiration of the beatniks, the intellectual fashion legislator Gertrude Stein — in short, the friend of the Bohemians of three continents. More important, he was the very embodiment of Kipling’s “West is West, East is East”, having lived half his life in Tangier and remained a foreign voyeur. With his wife, Jane, he shared everything except his bed — including the famous house where they lived above each other and called each other daily, but rarely saw each other.

Published and translated it inexcusably little, and her beautiful somnambulistic novel Two Serious Ladies was missed not only by most critics, but also by readers. None of the few reviews could do without the phrase “the novel of Paul Bowles ‘wife”. This is partly true.

Jane will be angry for the rest of her life that in many ways this is her husband’s novel: constantly edited by him, full of his edits and notes in the margins. In a sense, this male-washed female text can be considered a literary monument to gaslighting.
Jane died delirious in a Spanish Catholic convent, leaving half a dozen short stories, one play, and a novel. And a house in Tangier that has a patina-covered sign that says in English and Arabic: “Paul Bowles, American writer and composer, lived here from 1960 to 1999.” And no mention of Jane.

WRITTEN BY SERGEY DOVLATOV
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