Matricentric Narratives Recent British Women's Fiction in a Postmodern Mode

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Three chapters explore representative works of British women authors from the 1950's to the present. Further chapters trace how women's writing is historically produced, through social conditions and economic forces, as matricentric works and material culture interact; how various feminist criticisms problematize the matricentric and vice versa; a positive psychoanalytic discourse on female development confirms the centrality of matrix in women's writing and demonstrates the relative degrees of agency in their works. Writers examined also include lesser-known (in the US) authors Maureen Duffy, Wendy Perriam, Pat Barker, Elizabeth North, and Sara Maitland. An Appendix includes a conversation with Margaret Drabble.


"Matricentric Narratives is a polished gem reflecting so many glints as to dazzle the reader. . . . Dervin is remarkable for his determination to face these interconnected manifestations and to try to make sense of them. His guidance is deft and often illuminating. . . . Future historians of Western culture and society will turn to this book as they try to explain the explosion of feminine consciousness into the creative arts and the critical reaction to that explosion. . . . Dervin's example is exemplary for male critics. . . . Dervin is to be thanked for his vigorous examination of the critical detritus which is easily overwhelming without someone of his range to sort it. Dervin's critical priorities seem exactly right." - Andrew Brink in Clio's Psyche

"Dervin's wide-ranging study moves from the 'protofeminist writings' of post World War 2, through the consciousness-raising narratives of the seventies, to the proliferation of 'feminist' novels which were encouraged by the setting up of a number of women's publishing houses in the eighties and early nineties in the UK, and on to the effect of the present reabsorption of some those feminist publishers back into mainstream publishing. At no point does he simplify his account in order to promote a unified interpretation of his materials; on the contrary he respects and applauds the diversity and fertility of women-authored texts. . . . While avoiding the trap of essentialism, Dervin acknowledges the central significance of the affect of female sexuality on the phenomenological process. At the same time he neatly side-steps the postmodernist tendency to reduce us all to a cultural script. . . . a study which is permissive of and sympathetic to a variety of cultural positions. His refusal to simplify is an eloquent testimony to the achieved autonomy of the women authors he studies. In his hands relegated cultural ciphers become speaking subjects." - from the Foreword by Helen Dennis

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