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Moving across a Century

Women’s Short Fiction from Virginia Woolf to Ali Smith


Edited By Laura Lojo Rodriguez

The difference between modernism and postmodernism has been object to constant revision from a variety of critical perspectives. The present collection of essays on women’s short fiction tackles anew this thorny distinction from the theoretical perspective sketched by psychoanalytical philosopher Slavoj Žižek. According to Žižek, modernism hints at the incompleteness of the Symbolic Order, but does so from a separate, marginal and alternative sphere of enjoyment. Postmodernism, on the contrary, exposes the fundamental inconsistency of the Symbolic Order by giving it a central place at the very core of the text. The key distinguishing feature is the mutation of the status of paternal authority throughout a century to which modernist and postmodernist texts are responsive. Starting from this theoretical premise, this volume analyses the work of five major women practitioners of the short story – Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Bowen, Angela Carter, and Ali Smith – to offer fresh critical readings of canonical pieces that exhibit either a modernist or a postmodernist sensibility. The volume has, therefore, both critical and theoretical value: it redefines Woolf ’s and Mansfield’s modernist status, the transitional character of Bowen’s short stories, and the different versions of postmodernism found in the work of Carter and Smith, while, at once, contributing to the reassessment of modernism and postmodernism from a new theoretical angle. The methodological consistency of the book – half-way between collection of essays and monograph – places it at a remove from the usual collection of critical pieces from disparate perspectives around a particular issue.


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Index 129


Anamorphosis 15-16; 23n Anderson, Walter 41n Archer, Debora 117 Arendt, Hannah 25 Atkinson, William 44 Atwood, Margaret 92; The Handmaid’s Tale 92 Bakhtin, Mikhail 121n Baudelaire, Charles 89 Bettelheim, Bruno 89 Bluebeard 88-90, 104 Borges, Jorge Luis 115; Labyrinths 113 Bowen, Elizabeth 1-3, 2, 8-10, 55-58; The Cat Jumps 9-10; 55, 57, 71, 80n; The Demon Lover and Other Short Sto- ries 57-58; The Happy Autumn Fields 9-10, 55, 57; Look at All Those Roses, 55, 65 Burgan, Mary 39n, 49 Butler, Judith 39n Carroll, Lewis 78n, 92; Alice in Wonderland 78; Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There 92 Carter, Angela 1, 3, 10-11, American Ghosts and Old Wonders 2, 83-84, 107, Black Venus 12, The Bloody Chamber 83-84, 88, 89-93, The Bloody Chamber and Other Short Stories 12, The Erl-King 83-84, 96-97, 105, The Executioner’s Beautiful Daughter 87, 105 The Fall River Axe Murders 12, 83-84, 103, 107; Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces 10, 11; Lizzie’s Tiger 83-84, 103, 107, 109; Wayward Girls and Wicked Women 10, Wolf-Alice 11, 83-84, 98-99 Castration 3, 12, 58, 61n, 68, 70-71, 73, 108 Chodorow, Nancy 60n Cixous, Hélène 117 Collins, Wilkie 15, 125; Basil, 15 Composite novel 118 Cycles 86, 111-112, 122 D’Arcy, Ella 5n. Day, Aidan 90 Debussy, Claude 89 Robinson Crusoe 101 Desire 7, 12, 15, 20-23, 36-37, 49, 52, 58, 63, 87, 115 Donovan, Josephine 117 Dostoevsky, Fyodor 5; The Eternal Husband and Other Short Stories 5 Dunbar, Pamela 37, 40, 42 Dunn, Maggie 118...

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