In the three decades since her revolutionary and seminal article "The Character of Hamlet's Mother," Carolyn Heilbrun has been a prophet in the field of women and literature, gender and culture. This collection of graceful and uncompromising essays charts her development as a feminist writer and critic, which has culminated in such groundbreaking works as REINVENTING WOMANHOOD and WRITING A WOMAN'S LIFE.
Shakespeare's Gertrude was first among many literary figures illuminated by Heilbrun's feminist sensibility. Others include Homer's Penelope -- an archetypal single parent, weaving herself a new life for which she was given no script; Jo in LITTLE WOMEN, a model of autonomy for generations of female readers; Elizabeth Bennet, remarkable for the promise of friendship in her marriage with Darcy; and Harrriet Vane, outrageously unique on many counts. The consistency and clarity of Heilbrun's vision in matched only by its heterogeneity, as she discusses Margaret Mead and Freud's daughters, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, resistance to feminist studies in academia, mothers and daughters, fiction and myth, tomboys and surrogate sons, and the detective story, of which Heibrun herself (as Amanda Cross) is one of the ablest practitioners. HAMLET'S MOTHER AND OTHER WOMEN will spark recognition, again and again, in readers on their own quest for female redefinition.
"[A] witty, learned collection of essays . . . filled with delicate, sometimes startling gems of perception . . . . Provocative." -- New York Newsday [via]