The Dark Sister

The Dark Sister

by Rebecca Goldstein
     
 

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If you like the fiction of Henry James, the psychology of his brother William, and have a taste for Gothic mysteries you will enjoy The Dark Sister. The novel is a curious mixture of the Victorian repressiveness about sex, intricate stories within stories, and Jewish humor.

With a new afterword

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Overview

If you like the fiction of Henry James, the psychology of his brother William, and have a taste for Gothic mysteries you will enjoy The Dark Sister. The novel is a curious mixture of the Victorian repressiveness about sex, intricate stories within stories, and Jewish humor.

With a new afterword

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Clever, observant and nimble. . . . A wicked satire on feminist fiction. . . . Simultaneously re-examining one of her own favorite themes, first laid out in The Mind-Body Problem, namely, the relationship between reason and passion, the intellect and the hungry soul."—The New York Times

"Immensely ambitious . . . Teems with ideas and provocative suggestions."—The Washington Post

"Goldstein has cleverly constructed a highly imaginative tale."—Publisher's Weekly

"Rich historical/psychological thriller . . . Successful blend of metaphysical suspense and satirical comment."—Chicago Tribune

Angeline Goreau
Her third novel, "The Dark Sister," takes up the issue in much more complex narrative form. Using borrowings and mirrors, parallel plots and "possession," Ms. Goldstein questions the divisions we make between masculine and feminine, self and other, fiction and reality, the corporal and the fantastic. Along the way, she gives us a sendup of academic feminist theory, which, she suggests, forbids women writers the riches of literary tradition, while offering only dogma in its place. "The Dark Sister" represents an impressively ambitious advance over Ms. Goldstein's earlier fiction, but it suffers from a serious weakness: the characters of Hedda and Stella are not evoked strongly enough to bear the weight of the structure of symbols and references constructed around them...."The Dark Sister" doesn't give us any fundamentally new insight into the enduring question of whether, as Henry James put it, "art makes life," or life makes art. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Goldstein ( The Mind-Body Problem ; The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind ) has cleverly constructed a highly imaginative tale that commands close analysis. Hedda, a grotesque, tormented author of angry feminist novels, has exiled herself to a gloomy New England house, where her grim solitude is interrupted only by phone calls from her silly but dangerous sister, Stella. Hedda is writing a Victorian novel, in Henry Jamesian style, about Henry's brother William, the 19th-century psychologist. In the work, William is sent to study two sisters--one a brilliant recluse, the other possibly murderous--with pasts as murky as Hedda's. Characters are mirrored, parallel plots overlap and several dark sisters--gifted with imaginative intellects but viewed as morbidly deviant--are doomed to destruction. Although this book may at times seem an unstructured melange of repeated themes, images and phrases inspired by 19th-century literature, psychology, metaphysics and feminist history, its disjointedness is purposeful and provocative. Readers who persevere will be rewarded by this witty, literary tour de force. (July)
Library Journal
A novel within a novel, this story of psychic misunderstandings and demonic possession occurs in two different centuries to two different characters. Hedda, an eccentric feminist author and creator of AJW (angry Jewish women) heroines, is blocked in her attempt to write a novel about an incident in the life of 19th-century New England psychologist William James. Finally, she allows the novel to write itself in the style of William's famed brother Henry. William fails to understand both his neurasthenic sister and his latest client, who fears her sister is possessed by the spirit of an astronomer. As the bizarre tale reaches its tragic climax, Hedda herself verges on mental collapse. Although knowledge of the life and works of Henry James would enhance the reader's enjoyment of this clever novel, this book can be savored on its own for its excellent characterization, wit, and compelling plot. Recommended.-- Judith F. Bradley, Acad. of Holy Cross Lib., Kensington, Md.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299199944
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
03/28/2004
Series:
Library of American Fiction Series
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Goldstein is the author of The Mind-Body Problem, The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind, Strange Attractors, Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal, and Quantum Physics, and Mazel. A MacArthur Prize Fellow, she is professor of philosophy at Trinity College.

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