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Angry Words Softly Spoken: A Comparative Study of English & Arabic Women Writers

9781872843933Angry Words Softly Spoken: A Comparative Study of English & Arabic Women Writers, by Alanoud Alsharekh (ISBN 9781872843933), deals with the concept of feminism as a cross cultural literary device that uncovers the social development of women’s emancipatory progress  through the work of both English and Arab female novelists.  Buy | Read review

The main premise of this study relies on many of the theories presented by the 1970s feminist critical movement, especially that of Elaine Showalter’s tripartite structure. It also suggests a new tripartite structure for the evolution of feminist consciousness in works of fiction involving the an inversion of scales in “softness” and “anger” explored through the work of such authors as Charlotte Bronte, Sarah Grand, Virginia Woolf, Layla al Othman, Nawal al Saadawi and Hanan al Shaykh.

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Acknowledgements    9
1  |     Feminist Endeavours and the Arabic Novel     11
1.1  |     Introduction    11
1.2  |     Feminism and Feminist Theory    13
1.2.1  |     Anglo-American vs French Feminist Theory     14
1.2.2  |     Other Schools of Feminist Theory    17
1.2.3  |     The Evolution of Feminism in the Arab World    19
1.2.3.1  |     Colonialism, Modernity and the New Mother    20
1.2.3.2  |     The Historical Progression of Feminism in the Arab World    21
1.2.3.3  |     Islam and Feminism    24
1.2.3.4  |     Problems with ‘Feminism’ as a Concept    25
1.3  |     Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of Their Own    26
1.4  |     The Development of the Novel Form in the Arab World    29
1.4.1  |     The Origin of the Arabic Novel    30
1.4.1.1  |     Contact with the West    30
1.4.1.2  |     Translation of Western Fiction    31
1.4.2  |     The Nahçdah and the Revival of the Maq¢amah    32
1.4.3  |     The Arabisation of the Novel    33
1.4.4  |     The Arabic Historical Novel    33
1.4.5  |     The Progress of Arab Fiction and the Growth of the Egyptian Novel    34
1.4.6  |     The Influence of Realism and Nationalism    34
1.4.7  |     Egyptian Modernists: Naj≥b Ma≠hf¢u≠z    35
1.4.8  |     The Contemporary Arabic Novel    36
1.4.9  |     The Birth of the Feminist Novel    36

2  |     Feminine    39
2.1  |     Elaine Showalter’s Feminine    39
2.1.1  |     Feminine Heroes and Heroines    43
2.1.2  |     Bront¦e and al-ôUthm¢an: Quintessential Feminine Novelists    45
2.2  |     Charlotte Bront¦e    45
2.2.1  |     Charlotte Bront¦e’s Work    45
2.2.1.1  |     Jane Eyre    46
2.2.1.2  |     Villette    47
2.2.2  |     The Victorian Principle: Setting Charlotte Bront¦e’s Work in Its Socio-Historical Background    48
2.2.3  |     The Autobiographical Novel    49
2.2.4  |     Internal Dialogues: The Tool of First-Person Narration    50
2.2.5  |     The Language of Emotion    52
2.2.6  |     The Feminine Male Ideal    53
2.2.7  |     The New Gothic: A Tool for Feminist Exploration    56
2.2.8  |     Splitting the Psyche: The Mad Woman in the Attic    57
2.2.9  |     The Role of Religion: Subverting the Male God    58
2.2.10  |     Families and Marriage: A Double-Edged Sword    59
2.2.11  |     The Socialist Implications of the Novel    60
2.2.12  |     The Controversy of Social Convention    61
2.2.13  |     Claims to Feminism    61
2.2.14  |     Defeating the Feminist Agenda    63
2.2.15  |     Literary Merits: Soft Anger    65
2.3  |     Layl¢a al-ôUthm¢an     66
2.3.1  |     Layl¢a al-ôUthm¢an’s Work    66
2.3.1.1  |     The Woman and the Cat    66
2.3.1.2  |     Wasmiyyah Emerges from the Sea    67
2.3.2  |     From Camels to Cadillacs: Setting Layl¢a al-ôUthm¢an’s Work in Its Socio-Historical Background    67
2.3.3  |     The Autobiographical Novel     69
2.3.4  |     Internal Dialogues: The Tools of a Feminine Author    69
2.3.5  |     The Language of Emotion     71
2.3.6  |     The Feminine Male Ideal    71
2.3.7  |     Woman against Herself:234 Kuwaiti Gender Roles    72
2.3.8  |     Mortifying the Flesh: The Dilemma of Arab Women Writers    73
2.3.9  |     Feminine Exploration: The Gothic Elements     75
2.3.10  |     Splitting the Psyche: The Angel in the House    76
2.3.11  |     The Missing God in the Work of Layl¢a al-ôUthm¢an    78
2.3.12  |     Families and Marriage: A Double-Edged Sword    79
2.3.13  |     The Socialist Implications of the Novels    80
2.3.14  |     The Controversy of Social Convention    80
2.3.15  |     Claims to Feminism     83
2.3.16  |     Defeating the Feminist Agenda    83
2.3.17  |     Literary Merits: Soft Anger    85
2.4  |     Conclusion    86
2.4.1  |     Physical and Environmental Similarities    86
2.4.2  |     Stylistic Similarities    86
2.4.3  |     Differences    87

3| Feminist    89
3.1  |     Elaine Showalter’s Feminist    89
3.1.1  |     Earlier and Later Feminists    91
3.1.2  |     Suffrage    92
3.1.3  |     Grand and al-SaÙd¢aw≥: Representations of the Feminist    93
3.2  |     Sarah Grand    93
3.2.1  |     Sarah Grand’s Work    93
3.2.1.1  |     The Heavenly Twins    94
3.2.1.2  |     The Beth Book    95
3.2.2  |     Placing Sarah Grand’s Work in Its Socio-Historical Background    96
3.2.3  |     The New Woman     97
3.2.4  |     Feminist Autobiography: The Artist as a Young Woman    99
3.2.5  |     Political Diatribes: Social and Legal Issues in the Novels of Sarah Grand    101
3.2.6  |     Breaking the Silence: Taboos to the Fore    102
3.2.7  |     Feminism and the Marriage Question    103
3.2.8  |     Bearing the Fruits of Feminist Thought: Male Hypocrisy and Female Servility    106
3.2.9  |     Androgyny and the Annihilation of the Female Body    109
3.2.10  |     The Fight for Freedom: Unresolved Issues    110
3.2.11  |     Literary Merits: Rage Against the Machine    113
3.3  |     Naw¢al al-SaÙd¢aw≥    114
3.3.1  |     Naw¢al al-SaÙd¢aw≥’s Work    114
3.3.1.1  |     Memoirs of a Female Physician    115
3.3.1.2  |     Woman at Point Zero     116
3.3.2  |     Placing Naw¢al al-SaÙd¢aw≥’s Work in Its Socio-Historical Background    118
3.3.3  |     Woman vs Man: Radical Feminism in Naw¢al al-SaÙd¢aw≥’s Novels    119
3.3.4  |     Breaking the Bonds of Tradition    121
3.3.5  |     Pandering to the Western Reader    123
3.3.6  |     Feminist Victories    126
3.3.7  |     Penis Envy: Naw¢al al-SaÙd¢aw≥ and the Desire to be Male    128
3.3.8  |     Inverting Patriarchal Codes    129
3.3.9  |     Literary Merits: Rage against the Machine    131
3.4  |     Conclusion    132
3.4.1  |     Similarities    132
3.4.2  |     Contrasts    134
4.1  |     Elaine Showalter’s Female    137
4 |     Female    137
4.1.1  |     Early Female and Late Female    140
4.1.2  |     Virginia Woolf and ÆHan¢an al-Shaykh: Female Models    141
4.2  |     Virginia Woolf     141
4.2.1  |     Virginia Woolf’s Work    142
4.2.1.1  |     Mrs Dalloway    143
4.2.1.2  |     To the Lighthouse    144
4.2.2  |     Placing Virginia Woolf’s Work in Its Socio-Historical Background506    145
4.2.3  |     Doubles, Mirrors and Madness: Female Evolution through Feminist Revolution    146
4.2.4  |     The Flight into Androgyny    148
4.2.5 The Obsession with Inner Space: An Alternative Reality    150
4.2.6  |     Lesbianism and Female Self-Discovery    153
4.2.7  |     Claims to Feminism    155
4.2.8  |     Defeats to the Feminist Cause    156
4.2.9  |     Literary Merits: Angry Softness    159
4.3  |     ÆHan¢an al-Shaykh     160
4.3.1  |     ÆHan¢an al-Shaykh’s Work    160
4.3.1.1  |     The Story of Zahra    160
4.3.1.2  |     Women of Sand and Myrrh    161
4.3.2  |     Placing ÆHan¢an al-Shaykh’s Work in Its Socio-Historical Background    163
4.3.3  |     From Babushkas to Barbies: The Problematic Status of Women in Lebanon    164
4.3.4  |     War as Liberator in the Novels of Levantine Women Writers    166
4.3.5  |     Madness and Desire: Female Codes in the Search for Self Identification    168
4.3.6  |     Lebanon through the Looking Glass: Selective Realism     171
4.3.7  |     Claims to Feminism    173
4.3.8  |     Anti-Feminist Strategies    174
4.3.10  |     Literary Merits: Angry Softness    176
4.4  |     Conclusion    176
4.4.1  |     Similarities    178
4.4.2  |     Differences    179
5  |      Angry Words Softly Spoken    181
5.1  |     Conclusion    181
Bibliography    197
Footnotes            207
Index            231

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About the Author

Dr Alanoud Al Sharekh is a member of the Advisory Council of the London Middle East Institute. She is a specialist in feminist literature in the Arab Middle East and has held teaching posts at both Kuwait University and the Arab Open University. She serves on the boards of a number of NGOs and philanthropic organizations and has been an academic consultant on women’s issues and a representative for the Kuwaiti Government officially and as a civil society group representative at the French government, the United Nations and the EU Parliament. She has lectured in many local and international institutions including Uppsala University, Sweden, and has written several articles and two books on women in the Arab World. Dr Al Sharekh is the first individual recipient of a Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) grant and is currently working on three separate projects as a consultant for UNIFEM in the GCC area. Buy | Read review

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