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Not feminine enough? Rachel Cusk's highly-feminised world and unfeminine characters in Saving Agnes and The Country Life

Abstract : Rachel Cusk's first novels were published in the second part of the 1990s, at a time when British women's fiction was considered "parochial", "insular" and "piddling," prompting some intellectuals such as Elaine Showalter and David Lodge to react. However, at first reading, her texts may be unlikely to contradict the long-lasting view that women writers tend to write about women and for women. Her debut novel Saving Agnes (1993) is an introspective novel on Agnes Day, "sub-editor, suburbanite, failure extraordinaire." (12) It is exemplary of Rachel Cusk's fiction, in that it interweaves a seemingly uneventful plot with a realistic depiction of the characters' inner thoughts, by using a style chiselled with precision and dark humour. This can easily be seen as the epitome of what is often rejected as feminine, all the more so as Cusk's attempts at entering the male psyche can fairly be said to have proven less successful, or at least less frequent, Contradicting E. Showalter's assertion that British female authors tend to shun away from theory and feminist thinkers from fiction, Cusk has gradually sought to have a sociopolitical voice of her own, which is why we may wonder why she has not been given prominence in contemporary research works so far. In addition to her contributions to The Guardian, her fiction is peppered with political, feminist views that use humour as a way of debunking the feminine ideal which is constructed in the text, a straightjacket of convention in which the female characters are stuck. Cusk's characters are trying to build a sense of self that is not completely based on the stereotypical characteristics of womanhood, which are taken for granted.
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Contributor : Nicolas Pierre Boileau <>
Submitted on : Sunday, April 24, 2016 - 6:40:04 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 10:54:39 AM
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Nicolas Pierre Boileau. Not feminine enough? Rachel Cusk's highly-feminised world and unfeminine characters in Saving Agnes and The Country Life. Anglistik : International Journal of English Studies, Universitätserlag Winter Heidelberg 2013. ⟨hal-01306511⟩

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