WOMEN WRITING ABOUT MEN by Jane Miller

WOMEN WRITING ABOUT MEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lesbian feminists have made important contributions to literature, but this isn't one of them. Reprinted from a hardcover edition published by London's Virago Press, Miller's joyless study suffers from a basic misconception: the women authors she describes, from Austen to Woolf, did not write only about men, or only about women, but about life. Miller's volume is organized partly according to the order in which she personally discovered the books in question. Unfortunately, her personal reactions prove to be either flatly wrong or banal: to start, she states that ""the men in women's novels are not just men, but men seen from a woman's perspective."" This is hardly news. Given the author's sexual bias, it is natural that she should seek to write about authors who state the ""bisexuality of women's experience."" Yet Miller herself confesses that many of these writers are uneven in quality, like Dorothy Richardson, who can be ""boring and 'bad.' "" She ignores writers like Eudora Welty apparently because they do not fit her preconceived pattern. Miller seems wary of women who write ""as well as men,"" perhaps because they don't address the themes that interest her. Good writing is not dependent on sex, a statement Miller might disagree with, oddly enough. And throughout, she also ignores the basic issue in evaluating fiction: quality. Throughout, the author apologizes for inept women writers who failed because ""they have needed to be extremely circumspect."" Nonsense. Starting with Miriam in the Old Testament, good women writers have always spoken their minds.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 1986
Publisher: Pantheon