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Literary RelationsKinship and the Canon 1660-1830$
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Jane Spencer

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199262960

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199262960.001.0001

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Women in the Literary Family

Women in the Literary Family

(p.188) 4 Women in the Literary Family
Literary Relations

Jane Spencer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses the place of women writers within the metaphorical family of the English literary tradition, considering the use and implications of metaphors of sisterhood and motherhood. It charts women writers' attempts to claim a place as sisters within a fraternity of male poets, and shows how ideas of the sisterhood of muses fostered a sentimentalized acceptance of women writers. It revisits the discussion of the maternal metaphor through a case study of Jane Austen, arguing that Austen's innovative use of free indirect discourse made for an acknowledged, formative role in realist narrative. It shows how she was subsequently adopted into the canon in terms that contested the previous denial of a generative role to the literary mother. However, some hostile reactions to Austen from later male novelists suggest that the idea of a generative mother within literary tradition remains a troubling one.

Keywords:   family, sisterhood, motherhood, muses, generative, free indirect discourse, Jane Austen

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