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'Stranger and Stranger' : Alice and Dodgson in Katie Roiphe's Still She Haunts Me.

By L Armitt


HISTORICAL fiction offers women writers and their female protagonists a way into history through the back door, into that masculinized history traditionally characterized, in the words of Angela Carter, by a conspicuous ‘paucity of historical references to that statistically rather more than half of the human race to which we belong’ (Carter 1980:227). As the symbolic Other of the white western male historical subject, women have repeatedly been relegated to the realm of myth,1 and sentenced to discursive non-being in the prison-house of patriarchal History, in much the same way as Margaret Prior, the protagonist of Sarah Waters’s Affinity, notes of Millbank Prison that ‘no-one in it*/not the women, not the matrons, not even myself when I am there*/seem quite substantial or quite real’ (Waters 2000:134). Historical fiction reverses these power politics of self-representation. As the temporal malleability of myth intersects with a specific juncture of ‘real’ time in a community’s past, ‘not quite real’ characters and contexts vie with actual historical persons and events for prominence, disturbing the presumed objective bases of historical knowledge. Accordingly, Carter highlights ‘a compulsive need’ among women writers to rewrite ‘those myths that reflect society as much as they create them’ as the means ‘to accommodate ourselves in the past’ (Carter 1980:228)

Topics: PN0080, HQ1101, PR, mem_text_and_place, other
Publisher: Routledge Taylor Francis
Year: 2004
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