A feminist reassessment of Ivy Compton-Burnett's writing in which the author argues that her dialogue novels comprise some of literature's most incisive and searching inquiry into the myths, maxims, manners and mores that constitute civilized society.
Ivy Compton-Burnett's writing focuses on the Victorian/Edwardian family as an arena of dialogical struggle among sexes, generations and classes. This reassessment draws upon multi-disciplinary feminist theories in providing a re-reading of the novels. By relentlessly interrogating the masculinist assumptions of our culture, her dialogue novels undermine the institutional authority of church state and family. Chapters on selected texts explore the novels' intertextual relationship to literary tradition, history and to each other.
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To know all is to forgive all - Compton-Burnett's ethic of tolerance; radical renovations in the house of fiction; unhistoric acts - early novels - "Dolores", "Pastors and Masters", "More Women than Men"; mothers and martyrs - "Brothers and Sisters", "Men and Wives", "Elders and Betters"; civilization and discontents - "A House and its Head", "Manservant and Maidservant", "A Family and its Fortune"; clouds and clearings - intertextual analysis - illegitimate parents, incestuous children, filling the blanks; character condensed - "Two Worlds and their Ways", "A God and his Gifts", "The Last and the First"; attention must be paid - Compton-Burnett and her critics.
Ivy Compton-Burnett by Kathy Gentile
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