Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Wednesday, December 09, 2015 10:41 am by Cristina in , , ,    No comments
The Irish Times literary editor Fintan O'Toole was one of 82 foreigners polled by the BBC to choose the 100 best British novels. Wide Sargasso Sea was one of his choices.
10. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (final position: 46)
Postmodern, not in mere tricks of style or even in the way it twists itself around Jane Eyre, but in its brilliant subversion of narratives of empire, race and male domination. The mad woman in the attic would never be the same again.
And seeing the results of the poll, the BBC wonders whether Britain's best writers are women.
The British Isles’ mightiest novelists are women. So reveals BBC Culture’s critics’ poll of the 100 greatest British novels, which places George Eliot’s Middlemarch at number one, followed by Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein also feature in the top 10, leaving room for just two male authors to muscle in: Charles Dickens with Great Expectations, Bleak House and David Copperfield, and William Makepeace Thackeray with Vanity Fair. (Hephzibah Anderson)
This of course contrasts with the question asked by writer Stephanie Storey in The Huffington Post: 'Should a Woman Use a Masculine Pen Name?'
Women writers have long published under male pseudonyms. Nineteenth century female writers--the Brontë sisters, Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin (George Sand), Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot)--all published under pen names lest they not get published in the male dominated industry. Today, some writers still choose an androgynous moniker. J.K. Rowling, El James, Rob Thurman, J.D. Robb, Magnus Flyte are all women who made the decision to publish under a male name--or at least an ambiguous one. [...]
But also I don't want to run away from being a female writer. I'm tired of these discussions: Do men read women? Can women be funny? Is it a woman's fault for not "leaning in" or is it society? My book is coming out in 2016. Nearly 20 years after Harry Potter. Over 150 years since Emily Brontë published Wuthering Heights as Ellis Bell.
Maybe I'll alienate a few readers. Maybe I won't get reviewed as often as my male counterparts. Who knows how such an unconscious bias will affect the sales of my novel--hopefully it won't have any affect.
It is indeed a strange world.

The Brussels Brontë Blog reports on this year's Christmas Lunch and Entertainment. Reviews of a Shameless Fangirl posts about Wuthering Heights.

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