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The subversive Cinderella : gender, class and colonialism in the work of Dorothy Edwards (1903-1934)

By Claire Andrea Flay


This thesis will explore the impact of gender, class and colonialist issues on the life and fictions of Welsh novelist and short-story writer Dorothy Edwards. Although largely a literary analysis, this thesis also includes new biographical material which suggests that the class and gender ideologies that influenced her early years became key to her writing. After an introduction presenting the arguments of the thesis, the first two chapters are both primarily aimed at establishing the context of Edwards‟ work, the first in terms of her community and life history, and the second in terms of literary context. Chapter one locates Edwards firmly in her social and historical context, in part by means of new and exciting information discovered in a recent deposit of manuscripts pertaining to Edwards held at the University of Reading. In chapter two I argue that Edwards can be placed within the female modernist tradition as a result of her experimentation with narrative perspective in her 1927 short-story collection Rhapsody and her particular utilisation of the short story form. The central body of this thesis consists of a literary re-analysis of Edwards‟ work in the light of feminist and postcolonial theory, alongside a class-based reading of her fictions. Edwards‟ work cries out for analysis in terms of feminist theory, and her depiction of female roles and female sexuality in Rhapsody forms the focus of chapter three. Most if not all of Edwards‟ women are assigned to a marginalized position, and I explore the implications this has regarding her concept of gender relations. Edwards‟s depiction of social class in her fictions is particularly interesting; accordingly, chapter four offers a discussion of the representation of class in her 1928 novel Winter Sonata. I argue that here, more clearly than in her short stories, she deconstructs the constrictive nature of class boundaries and expectations and the effects these have on male and female, working- and middle-class characters alike. I return in chapter five to the details of Edwards‟ life, this time during the much overlooked and misunderstood period following the publication of Winter Sonata, much of which she spent in the company of the Bloomsbury group when visiting or living in London. The final chapter of this thesis analyses the literary produce of Edwards‟ time in London in the light of postcolonial theory; I suggest that the idea of a pervasive and mentally colonising cultural imperialism is key to understanding Edwards‟ work. The thesis ultimately aims to demonstrate that an analysis of Edwards‟ literary output in the context of current theoretical paradigms, together with new biographical information discovered in archival sources, reveals that issues of class, gender and colonialism are central to the work of Dorothy Edwards, as indeed they were to the Wales in which she was born and raised.Arts and Humanities Research Counci

Topics: Edwards, Dorothy, 1903-1934, 823.914
Publisher: University of Glamorgan
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Glamorgan Dspace
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