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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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Introduction - 11

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Introduction I have had the extraordinary experience and pleasure of having met Michèle Roberts on different occasions in Maldon, London and Bath. Yet, when I first read some of her novels, The Wild Girl, The Book of Mrs Noah and In the Red Kitchen in one of the courses I was attending as part of my PhD studies, I felt haunted by her writing. Roberts is such a brilliant personality and a noteworthy influence on my professional career. With Roberts, I have learnt not only about women’s studies and feminism but also about language and culture as well. Being an outsider and a foreign language speaker, I have been able to understand and share what this other world is about with Paper Houses: A Memoir of the ‘70s and Beyond (2007). Roberts’s memoir intertwines with Roberts’s novels as in both written forms there is a protagonist who finally tells her story for the very first time. The first person narrator in this true account is real but is also rescued from her past and reshaped at the time of writing this memoir. I have also lived and strolled in London as a woman flâneur. The perspective of the 1970s depicted in Roberts’s account, however, is that of an independent and feminist revolution for women. Today’s London is not the same that London during the 1970s. Following Roberts’s physical and literary steps has given me language. I have enjoyed analysing her fictional work and looking into her autobiography. Topics...

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