No Man's Land


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The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century, Volume 2: Sexchanges

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar

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What might sex be, and what could sex roles be, in the midst of a war between men and women? What is a "woman," a "man," an "androgyne"? Such questions haunt the works Gilbert and Gubar study in Sexchanges, the second volume of their landmark trilogy No Man's Land. Investigating the connections between the feminine and the modern made by writers from Rider Haggard, Olive Schreiner, and Kate Chopin to Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, and Caryl Churchill, they show that the "no man's land" of the Great War became a metaphor for a crisis of masculinity—a crisis that was already associated with the decline of imperialism and the rise of the femme fatale at the fin de siecle, with the newly visible lesbian literary community that was formed in those years and with what many thinkers increasingly  understood to be the artifice of gender. Throughout this century, the therefore argue, images of sexchanges—explored in fictions about transvestism and transsexualism—constituted a set of striking tropes through which male and female writers sought to combat one another's conceptions of the relation between anatomy and destiny.

"No Man’s Land challenges the very basis of interpretation for a whole period. The study of modernism will never be the same."—Carolyn Heilbrun






"[They] consolidate a staggering amount of information into readable, enthusiastically argued prose."—Kirkus Reviews

"For the scholar, it will become an indispensable critical text, but it also will reward the thoughtful general reader with a great deal of insight into this extraordinarily complex century in which we live. It is bound to become one of the books we turn to when we, men and women alike, seek to understand where we came from, what we are now, and what we might expect in the future."—Deirdre Bair, Philadelphia Inquirer

"[An] ambitious description of the twentieth-century woman writer. . . . There are many sensitive readings in Sexchanges and much previously neglected material. As with their earlier works, Gilbert and Gubar set out to explore a literary frontier (and in spite of obstacles limiting such exploration) succeed in mapping enough of the territory to make the way easier for the next wave of critics."—Cynthia Giddle, New Directions for Women

"Volumes I and II of No Man’s Land are part of a three-volume work that brings feminist theory to bear on modern English and American literature. Focusing on both male and female writers, Gilbert and Gubar survey social, literary, and linguistic conflicts between the sexes as revealed in texts by nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers from Tennyson to Woolf, from Hemingway to Plath. . . . Provocative and witty, these two volumes inspire reflection. They bring us all, women and men, face to face with the powerful domain of literature, culture, and life as it has been represented in words throughout the twentieth century."—Harvard Educational Review

"Sexchanges is a provocative work, characterized by the wit and erudition we have come to expect from these two critics. . . . Sexchanges shows us that Gilbert and Gubar’s own critical practice has not been static in the last decade: it now reflects a far deeper cultural and historical awareness. . . . Sexchanges is sure to revolutionize the way we read modern literature. . . . We can never, after Sexchanges, doubt that gender exerts a key influence on the forms and themes of literary modernism: and without an understanding of that issue, we cannot make sense of female literary modernism. I am grateful for the sophistication and spirit with which Gilbert and Gubar make their case."—Elyse Blankley, Women’s Review of Books

"If No Man's Land achieves its complementary goal, it will set the direction of feminist criticism for the nest generation of students and scholars. Success seems likely, because Ms. Gilbert and Ms. Gubar write with facility and have a knack for subsuming complex problems under easily memorable labels."—Walter Kendrick, New York Times Book Review
ISBN: 9780300050257
Publication Date: January 23, 1991
483 pages, 6 x 9
No Man's Land

The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century, Volume 1: The War of the Words

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar

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No Man's Land

The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century, Volume 3: Letters from the Front

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar

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The Madwoman in the Attic

The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination

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