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Victorian Women Writers and the ClassicsThe Feminine of Homer$
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Isobel Hurst

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199283514

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199283514.001.0001

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Revising the Victorians

Revising the Victorians

(p.192) 6 Revising the Victorians
Victorian Women Writers and the Classics

Isobel Hurst (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses women writers in the early years of the 20th century, who had to learn the classical languages quickly in order to prove that they could compete with men in university examinations. Their responses to the classics are mediated by English literature, particularly novels by women. May Sinclair revises the plot of the Victorian girl who is prevented from studying by familial pressures. Dorothy L. Sayers and Vera Brittain studied Latin and Greek at Oxford for preliminary examinations; both comment on men's use of classical images to express scorn for women at Oxford. Sayers and Brittain draw on the epics of Homer and Virgil, and Aristotle's Poetics, to claim literary status for the popular forms in which they were writing, the detective story and the First World War memoir.

Keywords:   May Sinclair, Dorothy L. Sayers, Aristotle, detective story, Virgil, Vera Brittain, Homer, epic, First World War, Oxford

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