Published in French, The Second Sex is both feminist and existentialist. According to Beauvoir, one is not born a woman, but becomes one. Her analysis focuses on the Hegelian concept of the Other. It is the (social) construction of Woman as the quintessential Other that Beauvoir identifies as fundamental to women’s oppression. Beauvoir maintained that it was the attitude that women were a deviation from the norm, outsiders attempting to emulate “normality” that limited women’s success. In her opinion, women were as capable as men and could choose to take responsibility for themselves and the world. 6.5 SUMMARY 53
6.6 ACTIVITY 6.7 FURTHER READING 54 In this lecture I have talked about the origins of feminism as a movement and the development of feminist literary criticism, focusing on Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir. I have been careful to underline the fact, and it is well for you to remember, that feminist criticism remains a mode of literary and cultural discussion, even though the term ‘feminism’ has acquired negative connotations through selective usage [restricted to militancy and a hard line stance] over time. Re-read Kafka’s “Metamorphosis.” Write down details of the different characters (other than the central character) as they have been given: Mr. Samsa, Gregor’s father Mrs. Samsa, Gregor’s mother Gretsa, Gregor’s sister The domestic servant (who served before Gregor’s transformation) The Charwoman (who helps out after Gregor’s transformation) Given what we have discussed in this lecture, attempt a feminist criticism of the text.
6.8 SELF-TEST QUESTION Look at the table of European winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature given at the end of lecture 2. How many of them are women, and what percentage do they constitute of the whole? Below is a table of notable European Feminist Critics (not to be confused with female writers. Name Country Language b. d. Key Work 1 Mary Wollstonecraft England English 1759 1797 A Vindication of the rights of Woman (1792) 2 Virginia Woolf England English 1882 1941 A Room of One’s Own (1929) 3 Simone de Beauvoir France French 1908 1986 The Second Sex (1949) 4 Eva Figes England English 1932 In Germany -- Patriarchal Attitudes: Women in society (1970) 5 Isobel Armstrong England English 1937 -- The Radical Aesthetic (2000) 6 Hélène Cixous France French/English 1937 -- Laugh of the Medusa (1975) 7 Marina Warner England English 1946 -- Monuments and Maidens: the Allegory of the Female Form (1985) 8 Toril Moi Norway Norwegian/ English 1953 -- Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory (1985) 55 Cixous, Hélène. Laugh of the Medusa . 1975.
LECTURE SEVEN THE WAR YEARS 7.1 INTRODUCTION 7.2 LECTURE OBJECTIVES 56 Welcome to lecture seven in the series MODERN EUROPEAN LITERATURE. In the last lecture I talked about feminism. In this lecture, I will talk about poems and stories that deal with the world wars and their aftermath. The First World War happened between 1914 and 1918. The Second World War happened between 1939 and 1945.
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- Fall '19
- European Union, Writer, 2nd millennium, modern European literature