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Female Initiation in the American Novel


Gabriele Wittke

Initiation has always been a major theme in American fiction. This study traces the hitherto neglected literary tradition of the adolescent heroine from the late eighteenth century to the present, focusing on important women writers such as Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Katherine Anne Porter, Carson McCullers, or Sylvia Plath. Their works are compared and contrasted in a close analysis with particular emphasis on common patterns, recurrent motifs, and thematic parallels which illustrate the specific nature of female initiation in American literature.
Contents: Adolescent Heroines in the late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries - Willa Cather and Edith Wharton - Ellen Glasgow and Katherine Anne Porter - Carson McCullers and Jean Stafford - Shirley Jackson and Sylvia Plath.