The Older Woman in Recent Fiction

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About the Book

This critical study explores late twentieth century novels by women writers—including Doris Lessing, May Sarton and Barbara Pym—that feature female protagonists over the age of sixty. These novels’ discourses on aging contrast with those largely pejorative ones that dominate Western society. They break the silence that normally surrounds the lives of the aged, and this book investigates how older female protagonists are represented in relation to areas such as sexuality, dependence and everyday life.
Beginning with an investigation of popular opinions about aging and a survey of hypotheses from disciplines including gerontology, psychology and feminism, the text reviews literary critical attitudes toward fictions of aging; analyzes representations of physically dependent characters, whose anger over their failing bodies is often eased by relationships with their female friends; discusses how paradigms of female sexuality exclude the possibility of older women being sexually desirable; examines characters that live a contented life, finding a more polemical side to them than is noted in more conventional literary critiques; and analyzes the aged sleuth in classical detective fiction.

About the Author(s)

Zoe Brennan is a part-time lecturer in English Literature at the University of the West of England. She lives in Wiltshire, England.

Bibliographic Details

Zoe Brennan
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 195
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1900-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8028-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

1. Paradigms of Aging and Ageism      17

2. The Angry and Frustrated Older Woman      46

3. The Passionate and Desiring Older Woman      76

4. The Contented and Developing Older Woman      110

5. The Wise and Archetypal Older Woman      134

Conclusion      156

Notes      161

Selected Bibliography      175

Index      183