Beyond the Lighthouse. English Women Novelists in the Twentieth Century

December 2, 2020
Beyond the Lighthouse. English Women Novelists in the Twentieth Century

Are novels by women 'different' from those written by men? Ifso, how? Do women writers possess a sense of humour? And why haveso many of their novels been over- or under-rated? These are someof the questions raised in this stimulating book, which considersthe work of some sixty British and Commonwealth women novelists ofthe twentieth century. Margaret Crosland's enthusiasm for hersubject will encourage readers, both women and men, to study themodern classics which they had always meant to read, or re-readthose they read too long ago. The author considers some pioneers,such as May Sinclair, and experimenters of different types:Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Richardson, Anna Kavan, Ann Quin; humoristswhose humour is often 'black': Rose Macaulay, Muriel Spark, BarbaraPym, Beryl Bainbridge, Fay Weldon, Ivy Compton-Burnett; the writerswho chronicle the intimate but devastating world of family andsexual relationships: Elizabeth Bowen and Rosamond Lehmann; whileDoris Lessing's work encompasses major socio-political themes andis far-ranging in its vision.Attention is given to the novelists produced by the north and southof England and the 'Celtic fringes' and also to those brilliantwomen writers who came from the Commonwealth countries: ChristinaStead, Margaret Laurence, Nadine Gordimer, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, toname only a few.Feminity in writing, the author believes, comes through insurprising but undeniable ways, notably in a preoccupation with theindividual and a distinctly caring attitude towards even the mostunlikely characters. She also considers why women are so successfulin the writing of historical fiction and how far it is possible toanalyse the work of such a latterday 'giant' as Iris Murdoch,nominated by one novelist critic as 'the Barbara Cartland of themiddle classes'. Margaret Crosland has interpreted a wealth ofinformation - some of it stranger than fiction, which she conveysin her usual witty, vivacious style.Margaret Crosland is a well known translator of works by Cocteau,Colette, Pavese and de Chirico, and is the author of Colette: thedifficulty of loving, published in Britain, America, and in Francewhere it was awarded the Prix de Bourgogne. In 1976 she publishedtwo books: a volume of Raymond Radiguet's work and Women of ironand velvet, a study of some fifty French women writers of thenineteenth and twentieth centuries. Since then she has completed atranslation from the French of Robert Linhart's The assemblyline.Margaret Crosland's diversions arc music, textile design, andcollecting modern first editions. She lives in Sussex.