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The Feminization of the Novel

Michael Danahy

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“A new and provocative approach to the novel as a downgraded and feminized genre; an invitation to an original way of reading novels and exposing their feminine or masculine narrators; a lucid and penetrating look, not at the war between sexes, but at their inevitable cohabitation in language creations; a wise demystification of the prejudices of classic and new criticism.”—Edouard Morot-Sir, president, Institut Francais de Washington  
 
For centuries, men have spoken to other men covertly about women. Combining the tools of myth criticism and gynocentric criticism, Danahy discusses this phenomenon in relation to fiction by and about women.  
 
Discourse about the novel is discourse in disguise about women, Danahy says, connecting gender and genre in a reinterpretation of three major works of French fiction, The Princess of Cleves, Madame Bovary, and Little Fadette. His study redefines the importance of Jungian as opposed to Freudian categories for literary history, theory, and criticism, and unmasks those reading strategies that have pushed the novel—“the domestic genre”—to the margins of the literary canon.  
 
Boldly intended to change the way people think about literature, the book applies feminist criticism to the study of structures and forms rather than to themes and images. It breaks new ground in the synthesis of American feminist criticism with French philosophical speculation.  
 
Rich in metaphor and paradox, this prize-winning work offers adventurous reading to students of French, European, and comparative literature and to feminist scholars.
 
Michael Danahy, author of Plasir de Lire, is associate professor of French and chair of foreign languages at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.

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