Elizabeth Bowen and the pleasure of the text

Gildersleeve, Jessica ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7694-5615 (2019) Elizabeth Bowen and the pleasure of the text. In: Elizabeth Bowen: theory, thought and things. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 48-61. ISBN 978-1-4744-5864-1


This chapter recognises that while several authors in the extant criticism have used various lenses of critical theory through which to analyse Bowen’s work, a case for Bowen as a theorist herself has not yet been made. Through an analysis of Bowen’s critical essays, reviews, and depictions of reading and writing in her fiction, this chapter proposes a logic of literary theory as it emerges in her work. Bowen’s theory of reading does anticipate, in some ways, poststructuralist theory as it appears in the work of Roland Barthes, particularly in terms of her syntactical evocations of trauma. Where her work differs (or defers) from theirs, however, is in her insistence upon a kind of mindless and spontaneous memory-work which describes the impact of the reader and the text upon each other and the production of pleasure engendered through this relationship. It is in the process of this mutual engagement, Bowen’s work suggests, that each comes into being. This essay will thus argue for the innovation present in Bowen’s understanding of reading and writing as an anticipation and an inflection of later poststructuralist theory.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to file in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Heritage and Culture (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2020 02:27
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2020 05:22
Uncontrolled Keywords: Elizabeth Bowen
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200503 British and Irish Literature
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200525 Literary Theory
Fields of Research (2020): 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470504 British and Irish literature
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470514 Literary theory
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9781474458641.003.0004
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/38135

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