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Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn G.…
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Writing a Woman's Life (1988)

by Carolyn G. Heilbrun

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Heilbrun has been one of the most important critical influences on me; I wrote about her in this post: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/novelreadings/writing-and-life-influential-cri...
  rmaitzen | Sep 20, 2013 |
Writing a Woman’s Life

Carolyn G Heilbrun

“Instead, we should make use of your security, our seniority , to take risks, to make noise, to be courageous, to become unpopular.”
“It is hard to suppose women can mean or want what we have always been assured they could not possibly mean or want.”
After reading this book – I must say, I cannot write reviews anymore – arrogant really – very arrogant that I even put on my website “review.” From now on I can only write my impressions of books.
My impression of this book is very favorable – and timely.
On November 8th 2012, I turned 48. I’ve been looking forward to this, simply because 8 is my number – with every decade I always look forward to my 8th year .
I will state here that I’m the baby of my generation. I’ve buried grandparents, I’m watching parents, uncles, Aunts, brother, grow older – and I’m enjoying watching the generation after me grow up.
My birthday has never bothered me – I simply don’t like everyone else’s birthday. I tell all of my nieces (I have three – and a niece-in-law) don’t leave me – don’t go away – but keep changing keep growing. I tell my son and my nephew the same – don’t go, don’t move away from me but keep growing, keep changing.
Strange isn’t it?
“Writing a Woman’s Life,” has challenged me; challenged me in the final chapter. Throughout the work I must say – I agree, I agree and yes I agree. I cringe at the thought of any woman at any time who had to dress as a man to experience life. This is a condemnation of our culture and of the men and women who demand that our dreams and aspirations are divided into a female and male context.
I cringe that both men and women write their literary aspirations within gender guide lines – in other words that a woman with “male,” dreams are hailed as revolutionary – rather than inspirational; inspirational on a human footing rather than a female or male footing.
I will say here I believe in the female and the male role. I believe women should show pride in the pursuit of love. He should pursue and she should let him down quickly or enjoy the pursuit. I say this now for I have little interest in romance and the dance it demands. Romance for me now is to be peaceful or not at all – up front and with as little pain as possible or never mind. I say this for younger women – as if I were talking to my nieces. I believe in the male role of chivalry and to give no man the egotism that he craves – she wants me.
Other than that – I want and crave individualism. Who are you? Where did you come from? What do you like, what don’t you like – will we be friends if so why, if not – why not?
These are the challenges this book has given me as an individual.
As a writer?
Frankly I’m not sure. Thankfully the book is short and I read it with care – I’ve highlighted, made notes, scribbled my impressions and all this because early on I understood this will be a handbook, a guide as I write – as I write until I die. ( )
  skwoodiwis | Nov 11, 2012 |
"Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force."
-Dorothy L. Sayers ( )
  fglass | Dec 31, 2009 |
The author, professor of English literature and writer of mysteries as Amanda Cross, discusses the lives (stories) women lead in western society. Great writers, such as Virginia Woolf, illustrate her conviction that women need another story to follow instead of the traditional romance that leads either to marriage or to death (the same result: death of a person). Thought-provoking and profound. ( )
1 vote bordercollie | Mar 18, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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There are four ways to write a woman's life: the woman herself may tell it, in what she chooses to call an autobiography; she may tell it in what she chooses to call fiction; a biographer, woman or man, may write the woman's life in what is called a biography; or the woman may write her own life in advance of living it, unconsciously, and without recognizing or naming the process.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 034536256X, Paperback)

With subtlety and great eloquence, Carolyn Heilbrun shows how, throughout the centuries, those who write about women's lives--biographers andautobiographers--have suppressed the truth of the female experience, in order to make the "written life" conform to the expectations of what that life should be. Heilbrun also examines literature's silence on such vital topics as friendship between women, the female physical experience, and the richness that often imbues a women's later years. Recommended reading for everyone, especially women and writers.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Presents new ways of looking at the lives of women in writing and explains how new biographical narratives can be invented.

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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