British literature of 1980s
I would like to pay attention on female writers of this era. Reading public was attracted by a group of female authors among who are Anita Brookner, Fay Weldon, Angela Carter, Emma Tenant, Sara Maitland, Jeannette Winterson, Pat Barker and Susan Hill. They produce fiction of a considerable quality and standard but also the most interesting fiction of the current period which presents wide spectrum of modes, methods, styles and approaches. Women’s fiction also brings new visions of morality. Otherwise each of the writers has different approach to the writing of fiction but all of them use myths, symbols, metaphors and fantasy, that makes their literary production exceptionally interesting. Most of these writers were also feminists. Language used in their works is fully appropriate, relevant, indicative and usually very unique.
She is a writer with an active interest in theology and identifies herself as both a Christian and a feminist. She searches for a synthesis between her feminism and her Christian faith. She uses many unusual and original metaphors to explore women’s experience of the spiritual as well as everyday life. Her successful novels were Daughters of Jerusalem (1978) and Virgin Territory (1984). She is interested in magic realism so she uses many symbols in these novels. She also dares to include New Testament figures into her work and adds symbolic meaning to them.
She is going beyond realism and she uses also magic realism. She experiments with a method of indirect narrative which she applied in works: Woman, Beware Woman (1983), Black Marina (1985) and Two Women in London (1989). Our judgement of people is determined by our own experience and by what other people tell us, so she realizes that people never see themselves as others see them and what is objectively ridiculous may be subjectively important. Lately she has published a sequence of novels called The Cycle of the Sun which immediately attracted attention because it was one of the most interesting experiments in contemporary fiction.
She was a great lover and admirer of books and films. She was actively interested in implementation of new media into traditional novel. She includes into her stories and novels different elements like myth, fairy-tale or legend but also film, radio and TV techniques. Electronic media are encovered into her fiction. The form of cinema is the heart of modernity for her. In her works Nights at the Circus (1984) and Wise Children (1991) the form of novel run into collision with circus, music-hall and TV game shows. Her novels are rich in imagination and celebration of richness of life.
For her the novel is a great game. It’s manifested in her specific way of describing life’s problems. She wants to knock down the walls and stress that her work is not fully authentic. “If you need reality you can find it on the streets”. Her best novels are Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985), Passion (1987) and Sexing the Cherry (1989). She herself feels to be her own censor. She tries to include poetry into her prosaic work and enjoys using new, rare words. She is very innovative in style, her humour is punchy and tender and her voice is poetic and very original.
She concentrates on timeless human emotions not on social problems. Her novel Family and Friends (1985) is structured as a wedding photograph, a still life changing slowly. Her prose is elegant, psychologically deep and its texture is very rich. At the same time we get soft irony and kind humour based on her knowledge of psychology. Every member of the family is a clear cut character, specified by its acts, behaviour, speech and dreams. Another her novel is Hotel du Lac (1984). Its main theme is solitude, loneliness because of lack of understanding, and the different tastes and habits of the people who are brought together. Her main character is usually an educated single woman in middle age. She can be very serious and entertaining but at the same time capable of deep interpretation of life’s endless richness.
Author and feminist, funny and serious. She has written many best selling novels but I will mention those from eighties. Although her novels vary in content and approach, she prefers the method of exaggeration and caricature. Her stories analyze actual problems and her central focus is on personal relations between men and women. Novel The President’s Child (1982) is a crime thriller with fewer jokes than it is usual for her. It is a political allegory about American involvement in Europe. The Life and Loves of She-Devil (1984) is a black comic fantasy of female revenge on a deserting husband.. Her most ambitious work is Leader of the Band (1988) in which she attempts a bridging between private and public worlds.