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Hamlet's Mother and Other Women
     

Hamlet's Mother and Other Women

by Carolyn G. Heilbrun
 

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In the three decades since her revolutionary and seminal article "The Character of Hamlet's Mother," Carolyn Heilbrun has been a prophet in the field of women and literature, gender and culture. This collection of graceful and uncompromising essays charts her development as a feminist writer and critic, which has culminated in such groundbreaking works as REINVENTING

Overview

In the three decades since her revolutionary and seminal article "The Character of Hamlet's Mother," Carolyn Heilbrun has been a prophet in the field of women and literature, gender and culture. This collection of graceful and uncompromising essays charts her development as a feminist writer and critic, which has culminated in such groundbreaking works as REINVENTING WOMANHOOD and WRITING A WOMAN'S LIFE.

Shakespeare's Gertrude was first among many literary figures illuminated by Heilbrun's feminist sensibility. Others include Homer's Penelope — an archetypal single parent, weaving herself a new life for which she was given no script; Jo in LITTLE WOMEN, a model of autonomy for generations of female readers; Elizabeth Bennet, remarkable for the promise of friendship in her marriage with Darcy; and Harrriet Vane, outrageously unique on many counts. The consistency and clarity of Heilbrun's vision in matched only by its heterogeneity, as she discusses Margaret Mead and Freud's daughters, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, resistance to feminist studies in academia, mothers and daughters, fiction and myth, tomboys and surrogate sons, and the detective story, of which Heibrun herself (as Amanda Cross) is one of the ablest practitioners. HAMLET'S MOTHER AND OTHER WOMEN will spark recognition, again and again, in readers on their own quest for female redefinition.

"[A] witty, learned collection of essays . . . filled with delicate, sometimes startling gems of perception . . . . Provocative." — New York Newsday

Editorial Reviews

Andrea Dworkin
A wonderful, living book for those who love to read and to think. It is engaged, fervent, good-humored; it is wise and intellectually substantive and a real pleasure to read.
New York Times Book Review
[Heilbrun´s] arguments for the centrality of feminist criticism are advanced with passion and enlivened with wit.
New York Newsday
A book to delight the heart . . . filled with delicate, sometimes startling gems of perception.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this collection of essays and speeches advocating the application of feminist criticism to the canon of English literature, Heilbrun ( Writing a Woman's Life ), humanities professor at Columbia University, also offers an acute view of the politics of academia. Leading off with a reprint of her first published article, ``The Character of Hamlet's Mother'' ( Shakespeare Quarterly , 1957), in which she argues ably against the then-prevailing interpretation of Gertrude as frail and passive, Heilbrun organizes pieces written in the '70s and '80s according to such topics as ``Exemplary Women'' and ``Feminism and the Profession of Literature.'' During these years she declared herself more fully a feminist--one who ``questions the gender arrangements in society and culture . . . and works to change them.'' Calling upon such related fields as psychology and semiotics, she focuses on the lives and writings of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, E. M. Forster, Vera Brittain, May Sarton and others. As an academic, she is forthright and courageous; as a feminist, eloquent and persuasive; as critic, erudite, graceful and revolutionary: ``Tender buttons as well as phalluses can organize a vision.' ' (May)
The New York Times Book Review
[Heilbrun's] arguments for the centrality of feminist criticism are advanced with passion and enlivened with wit.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345372086
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/16/1991
Series:
Gender and Culture Series
Pages:
340
Product dimensions:
5.59(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.87(d)

What People are Saying About This

Andrea Dworkin
A wonderful, living book for those who love to read and to think. It is engaged, fervent, good-humored; it is wise and intellectually substantive and a real pleasure to read.

Meet the Author

Carolyn G. Heilbrun is Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. She has written Christopher Isherwood, Toward Androgyny, Reinventing Womanhood, Writing a Woman's Life, and numerous works of detective fiction under the name Amanda Cross.

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