Spinster heroines, aunts and widowed mothers, 1910–39
in Odd women?
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The third chapter re-examines the spinster heroine of modernist fiction, focussing particularly on the widowed mother/repressed daughter and aunt/niece paradigms as examples of same-sex alliance and rivalry. Showing the influence of psychoanalytical models of the family, the widowed mother in novels by May Sinclair, F.M. Mayor and Lettice Cooper is a monstrous presence from whom the daughter must separate, in order to make the transition from an out-dated Victorianism to an uncertain modernity. Aunt figures are haunting presences in the modernist text. In the work of lesser-known middlebrow novelist E.H. Young, the challenge to heterosexuality posed by the tantular, and the uses of fantasy, offer playful alternatives to spinster narratives structured around repression.

Odd women?

Spinsters, lesbians and widows in British women’s fiction, 1850s–1930s

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