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British Women's Writing, 1930 to 1960Between the Waves$
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Sue Kennedy and Jane Thomas

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621822

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621822.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 26 July 2021

‘Whoever She Was’

‘Whoever She Was’

Penelope Mortimer, Beyond the Feminine Mystique

(p.251) Chapter Fourteen ‘Whoever She Was’
British Women's Writing, 1930 to 1960

Jane Thomas

Liverpool University Press

Critical appreciation of Penelope Mortimer’s A Villa in Summer (1954), The Bright Prison (1956), Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1958), and The Pumpkin Eater (1962) has been largely limited to biographicalism and Mortimer’s perceived anticipation of Betty Friedan’s ‘feminine mystique’. Jane Thomas reveals how, in their extraordinary and illuminating grasp of the signifying practices that constitute the self, these early novels gesture beyond second wave feminism in their anticipation of some of the seminal concepts of gendered subjectivity pioneered by theorists such as Judith Butler in the third wave. Focusing on the centrality of narrative practices to the construction of the self, Thomas also highlights a hitherto unremarked intertextual connection between The Pumpkin Eater and Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Whoever She Was’, demonstrating what was truly original and avant garde about Mortimer’s work.

Keywords:   Penelope Mortimer, biographicalism, Betty Friedan, feminine mystique, Judith Butler, gendered subjectivity, intertextual, Carol Ann Duffy, Hannah Gavron

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