Women and the Novel: by Camille Vinson Group A





This blog refers to an Essay by Carol Anne Douglas entitled “Are Women Writing ‘Women’s Writing’?” Jstor link above

To look at women in relation to the novel incites exploration into a broad and varied landscape. We can look at a million different things; great women novelists, how women are perceived in novels and if women do in fact read in a subjective way, influenced by gender. The article I have chosen by Carol Anne Douglas looks at how women’s writing is being reviewed and presented to the public, consequently affecting what we do and don’t decide to read. She asks why certain books aren’t being reviewed at all, and if the concept of reviewing itself is becoming outdated and irrelevant in the face of blogs and new forms of media. Douglas asks why, when women do t just write for women but delve into a wide range of serious, important subjects, the same subjects that men write about, should their novels still be labelled as ‘women’s writing.’


The ostracisation of a lot of women’s literature from being reviewed replicates the empty gaps in the canon throughout history where Jane Austen is the main contributor of the women’s novel. Douglas then discusses different female novelists that she would recommend to a reader, although these novels of course advocate feminism Douglas makes the point that it’s not the reason she has chosen them, disregarding political purpose and gender they are simply books she finds well written and interesting, and that should be a good enough reason for them to be reviewed and talked about, by doing this Douglas gives these authors an additional platform for their work and creating her own canon of women’s literature.

Douglas first discusses Virginia Woolf, ‘an exemplar’ of women writing women’s writing, but making it widely relevant. She recommends ‘night and day’ and writes about how the novel has insights into love, relationships and the unwillingness to lose identity that anybody could relate to. I think the points Douglas makes in this article are very interesting and more than simply making these points she also offers mix of intelligent, female authors that demonstrate women’s writing isn’t just for women and should not be treated as such.



4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jo on January 26, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Douglas points out that Murdoch’s novels deal with the difference between being nice and being good, and that she does not necessarily write about subjects that are considered women’s subjects, or ‘embody feminist ideas’. Perhaps it is a shame that Murdoch chose not to write about ‘women’s subjects’ or engage with the issues surrounding women that were prominent at the time she wrote but how fantastic is it that she chose to engage in the issues of politics and philosophy, issues that are also of great interest and importance to women


  2. Posted by Ellie on January 27, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I agree with Jo, it is a shame that Murdoch does write about subjects concerning women, but I must say it was refreshing reading this novel. Instead of focusing on women issues, Murdoch focuses on philosophical ideas. Those ideas are applicable to all human beings in general. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, because morality is the same for both genders. In a way, Murdoch unites both genders, but showing that we all are humans, trying to make our way through life.


  3. Posted by Olivia on January 28, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Murdoch certainly doesn’t focus on issues of women in Under The Net. I agree with Ellie that this makes it a refreshing read. Her detachment with gender allows her to explore serious and important subjects without being restricted to womens writing. The novels focus on philosophy, which concerns both genders. However, I found it particularly interesting that she uses a male protagonist and wonder if the novel would have been ‘womens writing’ if the protagonist was female.


  4. Posted by Billie on January 28, 2014 at 11:12 am

    I agree with Douglas’ discussion of the problems of labelling ‘women’s writing’, as it means many ‘women’s’ novels are omitted from literary canons as men do not consider reading them. Her choice of writers such as Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield are good examples of female novelists that write intelligent, insightful work that deals with philosophical ideas. I think female writing offers insight into the shaping of identity that can be applied to both men and women.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: