Item description for The Lost Girls: Demeter-Persephone and the Literary Imagination, 1850-1930. (Textxet Studies in Comparative Literature) by Andrew Radford...
The Lost Girls analyses a number of British writers between 1850 and 1940 for whom the myth of Demeter's loss and eventual recovery of her cherished daughter Kore-Persephone, swept off in violent and catastrophic captivity by Dis, God of the Dead, had both huge personal and aesthetic significance. This book, in addition to scrutinising canonical and less well-known texts by male authors such as Thomas Hardy, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence, also focuses on unjustly neglected women writers - Mary Webb and Mary Butts - who utilised occult tropes to relocate themselves culturally, and especially in Butts's case to recover and restore a forgotten legacy, the myth of matriarchal origins. These novelists are placed in relation not only to one another but also to Victorian archaeologists and especially to Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928), one of the first women to distinguish herself in the history of British Classical scholarship and whose anthropological approach to the study of early Greek art and religion both influenced - and became transformed by - the literature. Rather than offering a teleological argument that moves lock-step through the decades, The Lost Girls proposes chapters that detail specific engagements with Demeter-Persephone through which to register distinct literary-cultural shifts in uses of the myth and new insights into the work of particular writers.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.5" Width: 5.9" Height: 1" Weight: 0.3 lbs.
Release Date May 30, 2007
ISBN 9042022353 ISBN13 9789042022355
Availability 0 units.
More About Andrew Radford
Andrew Radford is Professor and Head of Department of Language and Linguistics at the University of Essex. His recent publications include Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the Structure of English (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and English Syntax: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Andrew Radford has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Essex.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Lost Girls: Demeter-Persephone and the Literary Imagination, 1850-1930. (Textxet Studies in Comparative Literature)?
Manacles of the Mind Mar 10, 2008
Until I read this book, I had no idea whatsoever of the significance of the Demeter-Persephone myth in Victorian and Modernist writing. The episode of how Hades abducted Persephone, and how the Earth Goddess Demeter intervened and secured her daughter's release was more than a memorable story: it was, Radford convincingly argues, the contested site of some of the most controversial issues of the time. The classicist Jane Ellen Harrison, for example, used its erotic elements to challenge the sanitised Greek mythology pedalled by her Christian counterparts. In fact, as a story involving the attenuation of male power by female opposition, it became the lightning rod for the battle over women's rights. For the women poets H. D. and Jean Ingelow, Persephone's interminable link to Hades--despite his manifest injustice to her--was a potent metaphor for the onerous burden that marriage was upon women of their generation. For Thomas Hardy and Mary Webb, however, whose novels were investing the English countryside with a proto-Greek luminosity and pathos, Persephone's failure to extricate herself spoke of the impossibility of true emancipation: their heroines, Tess and Hazel, are both crushed by age-old prejudices that define and delimit their very beings. A number of the leading classicists were gay and their subversive tendencies too are given expression through Radford's scrutiny of Forster's creative reworking of the myth in "The Longest Journey", which foregrounds same sex longing and passion. Radford's close and sensitive readings across a formidable range of works suggest that it would be too simplistic to characterise these writings as a form of counter-cultural resistance against a conservative Christian order. Liberal writers wrote against other liberal writers. Forster's privileging of male-to-male relations, for example, came at the expense of the status of middle-class suburban women. As for D. H. Lawrence, he reacted against Hardy's pessimism by featuring a Persephone-like figure in "The Lost Girl" who was in every sense the authoress of her destiny. Liberal writers too may display proclivities that are alarmingly illiberal. Radford's final chapter focuses on Mary Butts, whose uncompromising visions of rural England foreshadow as much of the developing Green consciousness as it smacks of provincialism and xenophobia. Her 'versions of Persephone are compelled to safeguard bloodlines and a sacred topography against a host of contaminating "foreign" influences' (p. 283), which in "Armed with Madness" and the "Death of Felicity Taverner" include homosexuals, blacks and Jews. Radford's painstaking, perspicuous elucidation of the Demeter-Persephone myth is a tour de force examination of the anxieties and contradictions underpinning a distinctively modernist English consciousness.