The publication of Germaine Greer’s The Change: Women, Aging and the Menopause presents a manifesto for women’s emancipation and their imminent embarkment on the avenue of freedom towards the liberation from the male gaze. In a similar vein, Edna O’Brien, a pioneer of the literary treatment of female agency and sexuality in the Irish literary canon, moves past the age when women enjoy visibility. Age liberates O’Brien from her entrapment in the public persona and her anxious relationship with the public opinion. It has the power to enhance the possibility of women’s difference. Nowadays, the commitment to women’s cause, the inherent element of O’Brien’s narratives, continues to mark out the uncompromising discourse of transgression of the standard as well as her vigilant condemnation of violence against women. In time, O’Brien has become both a foremother author and a legend. She has embraced her unrepressed femininity and the personification of a female sage that Irish women writers have long lacked and may thus represent a role model for authors who wish to transgress the discriminatory standards and defend the female voice.
In their landmark text The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteen Century Literary Imagination (1970), Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar pose a series of hypotheses concerning women-authored fiction in the nineteenth century, identifying two archetypical female figures in patriarchal literary contexts – the Angel in the House, and the Monstrous (Mad)Woman. Gilbert and Gubar echo a Woolf-ian call to action that women writers must destroy both the angel and the monster in their fiction, and many contemporary women authors have answered that call – examining and complicating Gilbert and Gubar’s original dichotomy to reflect contemporary concerns with female violence and feminism. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (2012), and in particular the character of Amy Elliott Dunne, explores modern iterations of the Angel v. Monster dynamic in the guise of the “Cool Girl,” thus revising these stereotypes to fit them in a postmodern socio-historical context. The controversy that surrounds the text, as well as its incredible popularity, indicates that the narrative has struck a chord with readers and critics alike. Both Amy and Nick Dunne represent the Angel and the Monster in their marriage, embodying Flynn’s critical feminist commentary on white, upper-middle class, heterosexual psychopathy.
This article argues that, since the turn of the twenty-first century, fiction in Canada – whether by English-Canadian, Québécois, or Indigenous writers – has seen a re-emergence in the apocalyptic genre. While apocalyptic fiction also gained critical attention during the twentieth century, this initial wave was tied to disenfranchised, marginalized figures, excluded as failures in their attempts to reach a promised land. As a result, fiction at that time – and perhaps equally so in the divided English-Canadian and Québécois canons – was chiefly a (post)colonial, nationalist project. Yet, apocalyptic fiction in Canada since 2000 has drastically changed. 9/11, rapid technological advancements, a growing climate crisis, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: these changes have all marked the fictions of Canada in terms of futurities. This article thus examines three novels – English-Canadian novelist Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014), Indigenous writer Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle (2014), and Québécois author Nicolas Dickner’s Apocalypse for Beginners (2010) – to discuss the ways in which they work to bring about the destruction of nationalism in Canada through the apocalyptic genre and affectivity to envision new futures.
A.S. Byatt has expressed deep misgivings regarding the role which the human species has played in mis/shaping the natural world due to the wilful blindness which guides human behaviour in this respect. In fact, Byatt has focussed on the destruction of the planet caused by greedy and environmentally-unaware human beings in fictional texts such as Ragnarök: The End of the Gods (2011) or “Sea Story” (2013), as well as in critical pieces such as “Thoughts on Myth” (2011). Hence, I am particularly interested in investigating how Byatt’s texts have been shaped by environmental concerns, as expressed in both her fiction and her critical work. My reading of Byatt’s ecopoetics will therefore be set within the theoretical framework of ecocriticism. Finally, I will also examine Byatt’s argument that in a way her early fictional work was “a questioning quarrel” with her former Cambridge teacher F.R. Leavis’s, whose “vision and values” she nevertheless “inherit[s] and share[s]” (Passions of the Mind, 2) in light of Leavis’s discussion of “the organic community” as proto-ecocritical writing.
It is apodictic that postmodernism gravitates towards fragmented narratives, apparently “real” diegesis and characters in a chaos-ridden frame. The postmodern novel is a “looking glass” that delineates the vertigo instigated by “reality,” which is an artifice that leads to amending interpretations. The paradox of “fictionalizing the reality” creates heterogeneous reverberations among individuals. There is no preconception, but moments of revelation and realization. The theories of language alleviate the transcription of the intense and inevitable relationship between the text and the reader. The theoretical underpinnings, formulated on the basis of the multiple interpretations emanated by readers, foreground the fact that texts are constituents of our linguistic community, and are diversified with individual and cultural experiences. In this way, the consideration of the text extends beyond its stature of being a mere “object.” Joyce Carol Oates’ Wonderland is a text which abounds in intertextual references in the postmodern context. Oates has taken up the issues of destiny and identity from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as the thematic source. The protagonist, Jesse, does not enter a world of fantasy; rather, she enters a world that is real, absurd and phantasmagorical. The article purports to analyse Wonderland as “hypertext” and accentuate how the fragments of discourses in it, based on Carroll’s work as the hypotext, have acquired a transpositional change of meaning.
This article examines how Palestinian American novelist Hala Alyan employs sea imagery in her debut novel Salt Houses (2017) to reflect her characters’ emotions and thoughts. In particular, this article shows that by examining a number of events in which characters are sitting by the sea or wading into the waters of the sea, the reader is given an insight into these characters’ inner feelings and beliefs and the way they perceive their identities and contextualise their experiences as they move from one city to another. As the novel relates the narratives of four generations of a Palestinian family, sometimes using flashbacks, sea imagery increasingly occupies central positions in these narratives which reveal Alia’s and her descendants’ endeavours to express their opinions through memories and experiences of displacement, exile and estrangement. Although the title of the novel rightly heralds the significance of houses, it is the sea that forcefully emerges as a pivotal component in the narratives that these characters relate in their quests for a homeland that lives in the older generation’s memories and the young people’s imaginations. As Alia’s granddaughter, Manar, visits Palestine in the final chapter of the novel and draws the family tree of the Yacoubs on Jaffa’s beach, including her unborn baby, memories and imaginations merge to assert the right of Palestinians to “belong” to their homeland.