Tag Archives: feminism

Lessing, Doris. The Golden Notebook

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‘The Golden Notebook’, the landmark novel by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, is a powerful account of a woman searching for her personal, political and professional identity amid the trauma of emotional rejection and sexual betrayal.

In 1950s London, novelist Anna Wulf struggles with writer’s block. Divorced with a young child, and fearful of going mad, Anna records her experiences in four coloured notebooks: black for her writing life, red for political views, yellow for emotions, blue for everyday events. But it is a fifth notebook – the golden notebook – that finally pulls these wayward strands of her life together.

Publisher: Fourth Estate
Year: 2013
ISBN-10: 0007498772

Gilman, CP. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories

Fictional account of one woman’s experience of ‘hysteria’ in the early twentieth century.

Title: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories
Author: Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
Publisher: Dover Publications Inc
Year: 1998
ISBN: 0486298574

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This is a really interesting story and one of the best explorations of psychiatric illness I’ve come across. I can’t remember all the details but I think the story is fairly autobiographical, about the authors own experience of postnatal depression (and psychosis?) compounded by the ideas about psychiatry and women) at the time.
On becoming depressed after the birth of her child the character is shut away for ‘rest’ in a kind of solitary confinement. With nothing else to do she begins to fixate on the yellow wallpaper in the her room. (Its better than it sounds!)

Even if you ignore the psychiological element this is a great wee gothic story. The added depth of mental illness under the guise of the supernatural reminds me of ‘the turn of the screw’ by James, another good, short read which was written around the same period

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A short, short story that packs a lot in – you could read it for the gothic E.A. Poe feel, for the feminist critique of male and medical dominance, for the striking visual motif of that patchy yellow wallpaper, for the ‘descent’ into madness. I’ve just read it in the time it took to take a bath – so don’t worry that this is a lengthy tome!