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By Michael Danahy

ISBN-10: 0813010381

ISBN-13: 9780813010380

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Example text

What is commonly called escapist reading . . is relatively frequent (sentimental, historical, detective novels) . . This homogeneity is obviously due to the fact that the life-style of woman, especially in the modern era, is relatively uniform. As for the specific coloration of the choice, this goes back to the beginnings of feminine reading in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when boredom was one of the sources of the novelistic at a time when the political and social responsibilities of woman were just about zero.

In short, the feminization of readers and of reading habits, which may seem merely marginal digressions, turn out to be canons of criticism, outliving all culture shocks that intervened from the Middle Ages on. After the French Revolution came the rapid development of the romantic and realist novel, the expansion of a vast, unknown reading public, and significant shifts in the social class affiliation of readers. 11 Stendhal, for one, did not hesitate to scoff at most novels. Written for the "unhappy many," like those of Madame Sand, they usually smelled of the soup kettle.

This kind of speculation could go on and on. In fact, it does go on, because making the issue one of individual motives and psychology endlessly defers dealing with it. Moving Rochefort's aside front and center, this book glosses "another story"the confession she dashed off. What links women to the novel? And are the links so strong that the chain cannot be broken? Have literary paradigms been doubly "engendered"that is to say, not simply brought into being but simultaneously patterned along sexual lines and explicitly assigned a matching sexual paradigm?

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The feminization of the novel by Michael Danahy

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