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Historical Romance, Gender and Heterosexuality: John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman and A.S. Byatt's Possession

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Fletcher, LM (2003) Historical Romance, Gender and Heterosexuality: John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman and A.S. Byatt's Possession. Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, 7 (1 & 2). pp. 26-42.

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Abstract

This essay is a comparative analysis of two historical romance novels: John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman and A.S. Byatt’s Possession. While I acknowledge that some of the key storytelling priorities in Possession oppose those of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, I emphasise structural similarities in the treatments of the heroines in these two novels. My analysis of the characterisation and narrative function of Sarah Woodruff and Christabel LaMotte illustrates the novels’ common paradigmatic structure and reveals a deeper shared allegiance to heterosexual hegemony. I argue that these characters are crucial to the complex negotiation of the past which both novels offer. They enable, in Diane Elam’s words, “a re– engendering of the historical past as romance.” Sarah and Christabel’s representation as both historical and outside of history provides the conduit for the elaborate to–ing and fro–ing between the Victorian age and the late twentieth century which is central to both novels. The double aspect of these characters depends on allegorical stereotyping of women as “mystery” and “truth.”

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Fowls, Byatt, historical fiction, romance, history, heterosexuality
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies
Page Range: pp. 26-42
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2007
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:12
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/540
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