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Nina Auerbach: Feminists Fall Out, 6 July 2000

Critical Condition: Feminism at the Turn of the Century 
by Susan Gubar.
Columbia, 237 pp., £16, February 2000, 0 231 11580 6
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... Susan Gubar has kept the faith. Most of the ‘feminist critics’ of the late 1970s, myself included, have drifted away, though not away from feminism: feminist criticism, an exclusive academic sorority, was always distinct from commitment to a political movement. But despite her dismay and even despair at what’s become of academic feminism, Gubar does her best to tend the flame ...

Fifteen years on

Elaine Showalter, 20 October 1994

No Man’s Land. Vol. III: Letters from the Front 
by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
Yale, 476 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 300 05631 1
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... in the Attic, Sandra Gilbert, poet and professor at the University of California at Davis, and Susan Gubar, professor at Indiana University, planned a sequel: a feminist history of women’s writing in the 20th century. At first, they expected to complete it in just a few years, but they soon faced enormous obstacles in the material itself. The ...

Learning to speak

Gay Clifford, 21 February 1980

Gya/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism 
by Mary Daly.
Women’s Press, 485 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 7043 2829 1
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The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the 19th Century 
by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
Yale, 719 pp., £15.75, October 1980, 0 300 02286 7
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Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Margaret Dickie Uroff.
Illinois, 235 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 252 00734 4
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Women Writing and Writing about Women 
edited by Mary Jacobus.
Croom Helm, 201 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 85664 745 4
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... the germinating infection by which women may subvert the borrowed syntax of men. Gilbertson and Gubar study recurrent forms of female rebellion in the works of Mary Shelley, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, George Eliot, and Dickinson herself, centring on the symbol of Bertha Mason rampaging in the attic. Socially she is there because of the power of fathers ...

Mother’s back

Lorna Sage: Feminists with Tenure, 18 May 2000

What is a Woman? And Other Essays 
by Toril Moi.
Oxford, 517 pp., £25, October 1999, 9780198122425
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... feminists as naive empiricists. ‘With friends like these, does feminism need enemies?’ Susan Gubar asks with uncharacteristic bitterness in her new stock-taking book Critical Condition. Clearly Moi is unforgiven, even though she has partly recanted. For instance: she used to argue that ‘all efforts towards a definition of woman are destined ...

Fashionable Gore

Katherine Rundell: H. Rider Haggard, 3 April 2014

King Solomon’s Mines 
by H. Rider Haggard.
Vintage, 337 pp., £7.99, May 2013, 978 0 09 958282 3
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by H. Rider Haggard.
Vintage, 317 pp., £8.99, May 2013, 978 0 09 958283 0
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... neuroses and desires, She is a marvel. There are good feminist interpretations: Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar connect the witch-goddess figure with the newly fierce debates over the rights of women in Victorian England, and the proliferation of semi-scientific studies of woman’s ‘true nature’. With or without this reading, She has extraordinary ...

Marks of Inferiority

Freya Johnston: Wollstonecraft’s Distinction, 4 February 2021

Wollstonecraft: Philosophy, Passion and Politics 
by Sylvana Tomaselli.
Princeton, 230 pp., £25, December 2020, 978 0 691 16903 3
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... speaking to other women, preferring to speak as a genderless ‘philosopher’ or ‘moralist’. Susan Gubar pointed out in 1994 that one problem with a great deal of feminist or proto-feminist writing – Wollstonecraft’s included – is that, in quoting or impersonating its adversaries, it ends up duplicating their arguments and perhaps even ...

Amor vincit Vinnie

Marilyn Butler, 21 February 1985

Foreign Affairs 
by Alison Lurie.
Joseph, 291 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 0 7181 2516 9
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... of Charlotte Brontë and Poe – or, according to the recent feminist work of Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, of women’s writing generally. Lurie incorporates this idea among her other symbolic and literary motifs, leaving them all in the sub-plot and, as it were, in quotation-marks. The nuanced and naturalistically-observed middle-aged love affair ...

Trees are complicated

Maureen N. McLane: H.D. casts a spell, 2 February 2023

by H.D..
New Directions, 281 pp., £14.99, November 2022, 978 0 8112 2209 9
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Winged Words: The Life and Work of the Poet H.D. 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
Michigan, 360 pp., £68, June 2022, 978 0 472 13301 7
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... and misogynistic contempt that writers such as Guest and Hollenberg (and Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Susan Stanford Friedman and Susan Gubar) did much to dispel. Yet one does want to know just how things were paid for: did H.D. have any money of her own? It turns out she had an allowance from her parents, and that a ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... hallway, waiting for someone … She often wrote with her eyes closed, which Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar use for their argument that she was ‘essentially a trance writer’. The debate about how ‘instinctive’ (therefore less impressive to some) her process was doesn’t seem to me to be the best way of evaluating the books, though it would be ...


Kevin Kopelson: Confessions of a Plagiarist, 22 May 2008

... I’d like writing something other than legal memoranda. From having read Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s monumental The Madwoman in the Attic, I felt sufficiently ‘imbued with otherness’ to imagine myself doing for sexuality studies what these collaborators – and talk about walking together! – had done for feminism. Only instead of ...

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