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Travelling in Women’s History with Michèle Roberts’s Novels

Literature, Language and Culture

Maria Soraya Garcia-Sanchez

Travelling in Women’s History with Michèle Roberts’s Novels: Literature, Language and Culture is a journey to discover Roberts’s work as a feminist writer, novelist and memoirist. An overall analysis and detailed overview of Michèle Roberts’s novels first provide the reader with a study of Roberts’s rewriting of stories that have been inspired by historical, mythological and religious women who gain a voice in her fiction. Not only will the content of Roberts’s novels be explored but also its connection to form, as this feminist writer has always linked body to language. Second, the book analyses personal and public discoveries in Roberts’s memoir, Paper Houses: A Memoir of the ‘70s and Beyond (2007). The personal, professional and political journeys the writer-protagonist strolls in London will be part of a feminist culture and language that the memoirist preserves in her autobiography. Finally, two conversations with Michèle Roberts from 2003 and 2010 are presented in a last chapter in order to illustrate Roberts’s arguments when writing as a woman.

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Contents Acknowledgments ................................................................................ 7 Foreword by María del Carmen Martín Santana .................................. 9 Introduction ........................................................................................ 11 PART A Michèle Roberts, the novelist ............................................................. 19 Michèle Roberts’s background .................................................... 20 Michèle Roberts and writing novels ............................................ 24 Pastiche and the concept of L’écriture féminine in Michèle Roberts ...................................................................... 30 Feminism: women’s history ........................................................ 38 Michèle Roberts’s heroines ......................................................... 45 Michèle Roberts’s protagonists and their relationship with mothers: the conscious femininity ....................................... 53 Sex and religion in Michèle Roberts’s novels ............................. 66 Body and language in Michèle Roberts’s work ........................... 80 PART B Michèle Roberts, the memoirist .......................................................... 93 Michèle Roberts’s memoir: walking as a woman flâneur ........... 95 Paper Houses: a woman’s fictional memoir ............................. 102 Michèle Roberts’s personal and public Paper Houses .............. 106 The structure of Roberts’s memoir: locations, anecdotes and form .................................................................... 120 History and culture in London: the 1970s and 1980s ................ 130 Index: writers and historical women mentioned in Paper Houses ....................................................... 136 6 PART C Talking with Michèle Roberts: two interviews in 2003 and 2010 .... 139 Talking about women, history and writing with Michèle Roberts ................................................................ 139 A conversation with Michèle Roberts about novels, history and autobiography ......................................................... 154 Conclusions ...................................................................................... 165 Bibliography ..................................................................................... 169

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