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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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Michèle Roberts, the memoirist This second main section is devoted to Paper Houses: A Memoir of the ‘70s and Beyond (2007). As this text takes the form of an autobiography, happening in a particular period of time, I would like to deal with personal and public spheres at the time of writing as a woman. Paper Houses, mainly set in London, will also take the form of a work of fiction. This time, however, past and present, true and false accounts participate in the reader’s perception to tell the story of a woman who is constantly moving places. This woman-writer and protagonist, Michèle Roberts, aims to find a home and, therefore, her identity as a woman and as a professional writer. As Michèle Roberts pointed out in the introduction of Paper Houses, ‘I am a witness, and I am an actor too. Writing this memoir joins up all the scattered bits of me, makes them continuous, gives me a conscious self existing in history’ (6). Roberts’s conscious past becomes constructive and active in this autobiographical work. Her memoir activates the writing process with memory backing it up. The memoirist uses language, autobiography, story-telling, history and fiction to create words that give form to her text. There is a connection between Roberts’s past narratives in the form of diaries, and her new readings of them. The feminist writer rereads her diaries and invents a new identity that it is portrayed in her memoirs from a present perspective: ‘Who...

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