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Unbecoming Women
Author: Susan Fraiman

ISBN: 9780231080019
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 189
Published: 17 December 1993
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.1 x 1.2

Is there a "female Bildungsroman"? Can the story of Elizabeth Bennet's development be yoked to a genre conceived in terms of Wilhelm Meister and David Copperfield? Unbecoming Women unpacks the ideological baggage of the Bildungsroman, and turns to novels of development and conduct books by women for a new poetics of growing up.

In a subtle reading of works by Frances Burney, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and George Eliot, Susan Fraiman argues that a heroine's progress toward masterful selfhood is by no means assured. Focusing on "counternarratives" in which girls do not enter the world so much as flounder on its doorstep, Fraiman suggests that becoming a woman involves de-formation, disorientation, and the loss of authority.

By stressing the rival stories in a single text, Unbecoming Women provides a fresh assessment of the Bildungsroman. Instead of the usual question--"How does the hero of this novel come of age?"--Fraiman asks, "What are the divergent developmental narratives at work, and what ca...

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