Confronting the abject: women and dead babies in modern English fiction

Minogue, S. and Palmer, A. (2006) Confronting the abject: women and dead babies in modern English fiction. Journal of Modern Literature, 29 (3). pp. 103-125. ISSN 0022-281X.

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Abstract

Jean Rhys and Aldous Huxley were groundbreaking in that they represented the experience of illegal abortion openly with no apparent disapprobation, drawing it to the attention of a significant readership. Their representations – bodily, but grim – resonate with Bakhtin’s argument that modernity can sustain only a denigrated version of the grotesque, a faint echo of the carnivalesque humour of Rabelais, where laughter is superseded by fear (in Kristeva’s term, the abject). Twenty-five years later, Alan Sillitoe and Nell Dunn pushed the limits further, placing abortion at the centre of their novels, forcing the reader to engage with the woman’s experience, while working within a realist tradition that did not spare harsh details. Within this tradition they are nonetheless sometimes playful, even comic, in their language and modes of representation, carrying readers far beyond the stark specifics of realism and outside the reductive restrictions of the polarized abortion debate.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Jean Rhys; Aldous Huxley; fiction; abject, abortion
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English Literature > PR0111 Women authors
P Language and Literature > PR English Literature > PR0057 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English Literature > PR6000 1900-1960
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Dr Andrew Palmer
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2015 11:21
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2016 13:03
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/13593

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00