Metafiction and Metahistory in Contemporary Women's Writing by Ann Heilmann, Mark Llewellyn

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By Ann Heilmann, Mark Llewellyn

In recent times, historic fiction, fairly that through ladies authors, has been on the innovative of postmodern reconceptualizations of the prior and of latest worlds. This assortment examines the dynamic experimentation of latest girls writers from North the US, Australia, and the united kingdom. Blurring the dichotomies of the preferred and the literary, the fictitious and the real, and overlaying these narratives that defy categorization, the essays assembled the following provide new ways to interpreting modern ladies fiction writers' reconfigurations of historical past.

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Moreover, religious radicalism was the context in which women, like lower-class men, were able for the first time in any numbers to find a political voice, publish their opinions, engage in debates, argue over the meaning of life and good government. 11 For Winterson, however, Puritanism has a very different meaning. In Sexing the Cherry, it is a narrow, repressive, hypocritical thing, characterized above all by its refusal to acknowledge human desire: The Puritans, who wanted a rule of saints on earth and no king but Jesus, forgot that we are flesh and in flesh must remain.

Sarah Gamble 39 The most significant character in this story is known only as the Count. An ‘ageing, drunken, consumptive aristocrat’ (p. 45), he is the distilled personification of European decadence. In his habitual dress of ‘soiled, ruffled shirts and threadbare suits of dandified black’ (p. 46), he seems a figure more suited to the turn of the eighteenth century than the nineteenth, and thus out of context historically as well as geographically. The Count is the possessor of secrets and the focus of rumour and speculation.

For a lively account of these various strands, see Diane Purkiss, The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations (London: Routledge, 1996). 17. This tradition is perhaps even more powerful in children’s novels, but elements of it are found very widely. Adult examples include Gregory, The Wise Woman, and Erskine, Hiding from the Light; in children’s fiction, Celia Rees’s very successful Witch Child (2000) and Sorceress (2002), and Julie Hearn’s The Merrybegot (2005). In fact it is a pattern that goes back some way and is found in novels about many other periods besides the seventeenth century; see for example Margaret Reisert’s The Third Witch (2001), The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1959) and Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Witch’s Brat (1970).

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