Feminized Male Character in Twentieth-Century Literature
|Author: ||Grace, Nancy|
This study explores a character type who is neither androgynous nor feminine, presenting a critique of the way in which the term "androgynous" has been misapplied to the feminized male, and through the use of reader response theory, argues that this type of figure appeals to female readers because he reflects parts of themselves often ignored or outrightly ridiculed through male literary representation. The book presents new arguments about characters created by James Joyce (Ulysses), Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises, The Garden of Eden), Jack Kerouac (On the Road), and Saul Bellow (Humboldt's Gift), advancing a growing body of research rejecting the majority view of these four writers as antifeminine artists. The feminized male, whose male creator has intentionally endowed him with feminine as well as masculine qualities in an effort to explore the complexities of gender in a dialectically social (via literary) realm, presents a powerful technique to explore, challenge, and redefine gender, not only in fiction but in our everyday lives as well.
"A worthy addition to the growing literature on gendered reading. . . . All academic collections." - Choice
"Lucidly and engagingly written, and painstakingly documented (with an abundance of illuminating notes and cross-referenced material), Professor Grace's work represents a unique contribution to narrative analysis and gender studies. She offers a superb critical background to each work, important biographical information on the authors and their influences, and a comprehensive overview of trends in literary theory and outlook in the twentieth century." - Gordon J. De La Vars
"The Feminized Male Character represents the emergence of an important new approach in women's studies and literary criticism because it addresses honestly the vexing question of why women readers are drawn to and empathize with male characters in such modern canonical texts. Grace offers a sympathetic, but not uncritical, feminist analysis of male characters who reflect and, she suggests, even advance changes in modern definitions of masculinity. Readers familiar with the field of women's studies will appreciate the fact that the text is thoroughly interdisciplinary, integrating (rather than simply raiding) a wide range of recent scholarship in history, sociology, psychology, communications theory, and the study of masculinity as well as literary criticism. The texts under consideration are explained clearly, and the arguments carefully crafted and closely reasoned. . . . .This book will fit well in advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in literary theory and women's studies. Those already engaged in such scholarship will want to read it because it opens up an original perspective for analyzing modern novels by male authors who have heretofore seemed unable to empathize with female experience." - M. Christine Anderson