How does one capture the delightful irony of Edith Wharton's prose or the spare lyricism of Kate Chopin's? Kathleen Wheeler challenges the reader to experiment with a more imaginative method of literary criticism in order to comprehend more fully writers of the Modernist and late Realist period. In examining the creative works of seven women writers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Wheeler never lets the mystery and magic of literature be overcome by dry critical analysis.
"Modernist Women Writers and Narrative Art" begins by evaluating how Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, and Willa Cather all engaged in an ironic critique of realism. They explored the inadequacies of this form in expressing human experience and revealed its hidden, often contradictory, assumptions. Building on the foundation that Wharton, Chopin, and Cather established, Jean Rhys, Katherine Mansfield, Stevie Smith, and Jane Bowles brought literature into the era we now consider modernism. Drawing on insights from feminist theory, deconstructionism and revisions of new historicism, Kathleen Wheeler reveals a literary tradition rich in narrative strategy and stylistic sophistication.