Myth and Fairy Tale in Contemporary Women's Fiction

Myth and Fairy Tale in Contemporary Women's Fiction

by Susan Sellers


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Woman as gorgon, woman as temptress: the classical and biblical mythology which has dominated Western thinking defines women in a variety of patriarchally encoded roles. This study addresses the surprising persistence of mythical influence in contemporary fiction. Opening with the question 'what is myth?', the first section provides a wide-ranging review of mythography. It traces how myths have been perceived and interpreted by such commentators as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Bruno Bettelheim, Roland Barthes, Jack Zipes and Marina Warner. This leads to an examination of the role that mythic narrative plays in social and self formation, drawing on the literary, feminist and psychoanalytic theories of Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Helene Cixous and Judith Butler to delineate the ways in which women's mythos can transcend the limitations of logos and give rise to potent new models for individual and cultural regeneration.
In this light, Susan Sellers offers challenging new readings of a wide range of contemporary women's fiction, including works by A. S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Anne Rice, Michele Roberts, Emma Tennant and Fay Weldon. Topics explored include fairy tale as erotic fiction, new religious writing, vampires and gender-bending, mythic mothers, genre fiction, the still-persuasive paradigm of feminine beauty, and the radical potential of comedy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780333720158
Publisher: Macmillan Education UK
Publication date: 11/10/2001
Edition description: 2001
Pages: 198
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

SUSAN SELLERS is Professor of English and Related Literature at the University of St Andrews.

Table of Contents

Preface.- Acknowledgements.- Contexts: Theories of Myth.- The Double-Voice of Laughter: Metamorphosing Monsters and Rescripting Female Desire in A.S. Byatt's 'The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye' and Fay Weldon's The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.- Re-creation in Other Love: Myth-Breaking and Myth-Making in Christine Crow's Miss X or the Wolf Woman and Helene Cixous' The Book of Promethea.- Becoming Gods and Umbilical Wordbows: The New Hagiography of Michele Roberts.- Unlimited Horror: Vampires, Sex-Slaves and Paragons of the Feminine in Anne Rice and Emma Tennant.- Bodies of Power: Beauty Myths in Tales by Marina Warner, Emma Donoghue, Sheri S. Tepper and Alice Thompson.- New Myths or Old?: Angela Carter's Mirrors and Mothers.- Conclusion.- Bibliography.- Index.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

'A highly interesting, well-informed book, which will be of particular usefulness in discussing contemporary vampire fiction by women.' - Dr Ann Heilmann, University of Wales, Swansea

'...this volume is for all collections and readers at all levels.' - Choice

'Susan Sellers has made a great contribution to the study of fairy tales and feminism.' - Jack Zipes, Professor of Scandinavian Studies, University of Minnesota

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