Gilbert and Gubar 1979

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Gilbert and Gubar, Madwoman in the Attic (1979)

opening sentence: “Is the pen a metaphorical penis?” – end of paragraph; “The poet’s pen is in some sense (even more than figuratively) a penis.” (3-4)

authors as paternal figures, quoting Said on authority/author

“In medieval philosophy, the network of conenctions among sexual, literary, and theological metaphors is equally complex: God the Father both engenders the cosmos and, as Ernst Robert Curtius notes, writes the Book of Nature: boh tropes describe a single act of creation.” (5-6)

Rochester and Auguste Renoir on painting/writing with penises, phallic pen on virgin page

influence described as paternal/filial relationship, quoting Bloom on anxiety of influence

“Though many of these writers use the metaphor of literary paternity in different ways and for different purposes, all seem overwhelmingly to agree that a literary text is not only speech quite literally embodied, but also power mysteriously made manifest, made flesh. In patriarchal Western culture, therefore, the text’s author is a father, a progenitor, a procreator, an aesthetic patriarch whose pen is an instrument of generative power like his penis. More, his pen’s power, like his pens’s power, is not just the ability to generate life but the power to create a posterity to which he lays claim, as, in Said’s paraphrase of Partridge, ‘an increaser and thus a founder.’ In this respect, the pen is truly mightier than its phallic counterpart the sword, and in patriarchy more resonantly sexual.” (6)

“Finally, that such a notion of ‘ownership’ or possession is embedded in the metaphor of paternity leads ot yet another implication of this complex metaphor. For if the author/father is owner of his text and his reader’s attention, he is also, of course, owner/possessor of the subjects of his text, that is to say of those figures, scenes, and events – those brain children – he has both incarnated in black and white and ‘bound’ in cloth or leather. Thus, because he is an ‘’author’’, a ‘man of letters’ is simultaneously, like his divine counterpart, a father, a master or ruler, and an owner: the spiritual type of a patriarch, as we understand that term in Western society.” (7)

“Where does such an implicitly or explicitly patriarchal theory of literature leave literary women? If the pen is a metaphorical penis, with what organ an females generate texts?” (7)

taking away pen from men = emasculation; quoting Barthes on de Sade’s imprisonment, when he was denied encil, ink, pen, and paper

“Lacking the pen/penis which would enable them similarly to refute one fiction by another, weomen in patriarchal societies have historically been reduced to ‘’mere’’ properties, to characters and images imprisoned in male texts because generated solely, as Anne Elliot and Anne Finch observe, by male expectations and designs.” (12)

“Since both patriarchy and its texts subordinate and imprison women, before women can even attempt that pen which Is so rigorously kept from them they must escape just those male texts which, defining them as ‘Cyphers,’ deny them the autonomy to formulate alternatives to the authority that has imprisoned them and kept them from attempting the pen.” (13)

“Before the woman writer can journey through the looking glass toward literary autonomy, however, she must come to terms wit the images on the surface of the glass, with, that is, those mythic masks male artists have fastened over her human face both to lessen their dread of her ‘inconstancy and – by identifying her with the ‘eternal types’ they have themselves invented – to possess her more thoroughly. Specifically, as we will try to show here, a woman writer must examine, assimilate, and transcend the extreme images of ‘angel’ and ‘monster’ which male authors have generated for her. Before we women can write, declared Virigina Woolf, we must ‘kill’ the ‘angel in the house.’ In other words, women must kill the aesthetic ideal through which they themselves have been ‘killed’ into art. And similarly, all women writers must kill the angel’s necessary opposite and double, the ‘monster’ in the house, whose Medusa-face also kills female creativity. For us as feminist critics, however, the Woolfian act of ‘killing’ both angels and monsters must here begin with an understanding of the nature and origin of these images. At this point in our construction of a feminist poetics, then, we really must dissect in order to murder. And we must particularly do this in order to understand literature by women because, as we shall show, the images of ‘angel’ and ‘monster’ hae been so ubiquitous throughout literature by men that they have also pervaded women’s writing to such an extent that few women have definitively ‘killed’ either figure. Rather, the female imagination has perceived itself, as it were, through a glass darkly: until quite recently the woman writer has had (if only unconsciously) to define herself as a mysterious creature who resides behind the angel or monster or angel/monster image that lives on what Mary Elizabeth Coleridge called ‘the crystal surface.’” (16-7)

double-voiced text – feminist subtext hidden in conventional narrative