Dancing in the Flames

Spiritual Journey in the Novels of Lee Smith


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About the Book

This book examines Lee Smith’s novel-length fiction and its powerful reflection of her personal search for and journey toward spiritual reconciliation. The protagonists of Smith’s novels feel estranged from any sense of feminine sacredness as they struggle for a belief system that offers them hope and validation.
Chapters describe how Smith has retrieved in her fiction a source of transformative power—the power of the sexual, maternal, feminine divine—in hopes of creating a new image of the total, sacred female whose sexuality, creativity, spirituality, and maternity can reside comfortably in the bodies of everyday heroines.

About the Author(s)

Linda Byrd Cook is a professor of English at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

Linda Byrd Cook
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 248
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4110-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5350-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1
Lee Smith Chronology      3
Introduction      5

I. “Nothing left to say”: Silenced by the Dichotomy in The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed and Something in the Wind      15
II. “Visions of rape”: Patriarchal Assault in Fancy Strut and Black Mountain Breakdown      37
III. “Enclosed … in God’s womb”: The Chance for Rebirth in Oral History      61
IV. “Upended among these roses”: Damage and Hope for Healing in Family Linen      86
V. “I walked in my body like a Queen”: The Honey-Imbued Goddess in Fair and Tender Ladies      106
VI. “Figures a-dancing … in the flames”: Toward Healing the Wound in The Devil’s Dream      141
VII. “Swimming free … in and out of undersea caverns”: Reconciliation with the Feminine Divine in Saving Grace      161
VIII. “Praying straight into the wind”: The Sacred Circular Journey in The Last Girls      178
IX. “Part of the earth and the sky, the living and the dead”: The Divine Cycle of Life in On Agate Hill      198

Conclusion      223
Works Cited      227
Index      231