By Andrea Adolph

ISBN-10: 0754667340

ISBN-13: 9780754667346

In her feminist intervention into the ways that British ladies novelists discover and problem the constraints of the mind-body binary traditionally associated with structures of femininity, Andrea Adolph examines girl characters in novels via Barbara Pym, Angela Carter, Helen Dunmore, Helen Fielding, and Rachel Cusk. Adolph specializes in how women's relationships to foodstuff (cooking, consuming, and serving) are used to find women's embodiment in the daily and in addition display the writers' dedication to portraying a unified woman topic. for instance, utilizing nutrients and meals intake as a lens highlights how girls writers have used nutrients as a trope that illustrates the interconnectedness of intercourse and gender with problems with sexuality, social type, and subjectivity - all elements that fall alongside a continuum of expertise during which the mind and the actual physique are jointly complicit. traditionally grounded in representations of girls in periodicals, house responsibilities and cooking manuals, and beauty and health books, Adolph's theoretically proficient examine complicates our knowing of ways women's social and cultural roles are intricately attached to problems with meals and nutrients intake.

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Each of these novels uses particular generic conventions (gothic and mystery) that necessitate construction of tension through a withholding of information, and each foregrounds an embodied, consuming female character in order to maintain its narrative secrets. Through an elaboration upon theories of the body image as developed by Paul Schilder, as well as upon other theories of reading and of imagining, I explore ways in which the extratextual embodiment of readers serves as a catalyst for reader identification with those embodied characters within these texts.

Manresa, who has arrived in the middle class by marriage to a tradesman, is cast as a figure of difference and scorn. Her sexuality, called into question by her embodied nature and her consumption practices, is the Introduction 31 type of sexuality long associated with women of the working classes. Regardless of Woolf’s determination to imagine a collective new society for a future England, her creation of Mrs. Manresa is telling of the limitations within which Woolf was able to envision a dissolution of class structures.

Manresa, whose character opposition falls along lines that conform more closely to those older methods of aligning women as either physical or mental/spiritual, however, Pym’s Jane and Prudence are difficult to pigeonhole. Examinations of additional fiction of the period that adheres to a more typical relationship of food to femininity— Noel Streatfeild’s Saplings and Mollie Panter-Downes’s One Fine Day—allow the playfulness of Pym’s narrative to emerge. Pym tinkers with the traditional conventions of and expectations for using mind/body duality as a method of characterization and trades the domesticity that might more typically belong to a housewife such as Jane for the intellectual ambitions she continues to nurture, years beyond her academic life.

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Food and Femininity in Twentieth-Century British Women's Fiction by Andrea Adolph


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