lundi 10 octobre 2011

Linda Huf, APORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG WOMAN, New York, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1983, 196 pages.

The most obvious way in which the woman's artist novel differs from the man's is in the character of its protagonist. Whereas the artist hero, as Beebe has shown, inclines to be passive, sensitive and shy (that is, to have conventionally "feminine" traits), the artist heroine tends to be stalwart, spirited, and fearless (or, to have traditionally "masculine" attributes). Accordingly, artist heroes by men are slight in build, clumsy in sports, reluctant in fights, inept in mathematics, timid in love, and guilt-ridden in sex; while artist heroines by women are athletic in build, skilled in sports, unshrinking in fights, able in mathematics, plucky in love, and daring in their sexual adventures.
The second way in which the woman's artist novel differs from the man's is in its protagonist's ruling conflict. As Beebe has shown, the artist hero is a divided self - unhappily split between his sensual longings, which immerse him in life, and his spiritual aspirations, by which he would transcend life in art. As the following pages will show, the artist heroine is that and more. She is torn not only between life ant art but, more specifically, between her role as a woman, demanding selfless devotion to others, and her aspirations as an artist, requiring exclusive commitment to work. Unlike the artist hero she must choose between her sexuality and her profession, between womanhood and her work.
The third characteristic of the woman's artist novel which distinguishes it from the man's is that it pits its protagonist against a sexually conventional foil. This frivolous friend, or enemy, who embodies excessive devotion to the female role, serves to make the aspiring artist look, not unwomanly, but herois by contrast.
The fourth way in which the woman's artist novel differs from the man's is in its want of a muse. Writers of women's Künstlerromane do not create male muses as their male counterparts create female muses. They do not idealize men as men idealize women - a fact which is unremarkable if we consider the fundamental truth in the truism that no man is a hero to his valet. In the woman's portrait-of-the-author novel, the heroine does not gos to Man in order to create. To the woman artist in fiction, men are not muses or models who guide or lift her upward and onward. Rather they are despots or dunces who drag her down.
The fifth and final characteristic which sets the woman's artist novel apart from the man's is its radicalism. The woman's Künstlerroman belies Louis Auchincloss's comfortable thesis in Pioneers and Caretakers that creative "women... have always been the true conservatives... They never destroy; they never want the clean-sweep." The woman's artist novel calls for the smashing of the man-forged manacles on her sex. While the artist hero battles only the bourgeois and philistine (as Beebe has shown), the artist heroine combats a much more insidious banality. While the artist hero is only up against the banker and broker, the artist heroine is up against the wall. She challenges not only the Babbitt and boor, but also the biggot and bully - including the bone of her bones and flesh of her flesh, the very men she loves and who purport to love her.
(p. 4-11)

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